Why do some wild Amish teens drive cars and use drugs before adulthood?

That’s an interesting result of the historic Mennonite/Amish decision that only mature adults should be allowed to become members.

For older teens, too old to be ordered around like kids but too immature to commit to membership, there is a peculiar Amish, letting-off-steam institution called rumschpringes or “time out.”

The teens are encouraged to go out, sow a few wild oats, and live a worldly life for a few years until they get it out of their systems and develop some maturity. The teens join “buddy gangs”, with names like the Antiques, the Crickets, and the Pilgrims, buy souped-up cars and stereos, drink, date, go to dances, and otherwise act like teens everywhere.

But isn’t that a bad idea? How many would want to go back to barn raisings after being exposed to bikes, burgers, and Britney Spears? Here’s where it gets interesting.

True, a few may get into serious trouble, and others may decide to leave the Amish community and become Mennonites, or worse. Still, a surprisingly large proportion of the Amish youth taste the forbidden fruit and decide that it is not as nourishing as the simple life.

Besides, the threat of being permanently shunned by friends, family, and community likely makes a decision to leave the church for good a very difficult one.