A couple which has lived and worked near three Amish communities in Iowa say their members continue to hold true to their beliefs, even when the outside world encroaches on them.

Don and Dianne Kramer gave a presentation entitled “Our Neighbors the Amish” at the Knoxville Public Library on Monday; they covered a wide variety of Amish customs, ranging from how they define roles in their society from birth through adulthood to how they approach education, marriage and family.

Don Kramer says although traditional Amish communities continue to avoid using many modern conveniences, changing times have forced them to make the occasional compromise. He tells KNIA/KRLS News they have to deal with the outside world on a regular basis in order to make ends meet.

“They can’t make a living from farming full-time…you could live on a farm all the time and be there all the time and it wasn’t a problem. But today because they need to make their living off of the farm quite often half the time, they’re having to kind of come out into our society and accept some of the things that we do,” Kramer says.

“Access us as people who will buy their products and so on; so that’s changing in their lifestyle. (But) I think there’s some things that will always stay the way they are.”

For example, some Amish have jobs in factories and offices, and use telephones, computers or machinery when on the job; but while they decide not to have them in their homes, they sometimes have shared landlines and answering machines for use when needed.

Kramer says the outside world is often fascinated with how the Amish live, and one common question is whether or not they pay taxes. He says yes, although they decline to collect on Social Security or any other government benefits…preferring to provide help for each other when needed.