By Jon Hurdle
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - America's Amish population has nearly doubled and spread out in the past 16 years due to large families, more marriages within the community and longer lifespans, a study showed on Wednesday.
The population grew 86 percent to 231,000 in 2008 from 125,000 in 1992, or 4 percent a year, and is set to double from this year's level by 2026 if the current growth rate continues, according to the study by Donald Kraybill, a sociology professor at Elizabethtown University in Pennsylvania.
The Amish, a Christian sect that migrated to the United States from Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, refuse to drive cars, use computers or connect to a public electricity supply. They speak a German dialect and travel through their predominantly rural communities in horse-drawn buggies.
At a time when some other ethnic and religious groups fear dilution t
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