Sunday, March 2, 2014

In Major Shift, LDS Church Sending Out More, Younger Women Missionaries

Posted By on Sun, Mar 2, 2014 at 3:00 PM

In what is being called a fundamental shift in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more young Mormon women will be participating in missions in the coming years, expecting to trigger sharp drops in some of the region's colleges.

This morning's New York Times reports that the change comes from an October 2012 decision from the LDS church to lower its age for female missionaries from 21 down to 19. The Times reports that so many women signed up right out of the gate that a number of colleges saw immediate drops in enrollment and "the standard image of a Mormon missionary, a gangly young man in a dark suit, was suddenly out of date."

The Times' Laurie Goodstein and Jodi Kantor report that LDS church leaders "have been forced to reassess their views because Mormon women are increasingly supporting households, marrying later and less frequently, and having fewer children."

“The great unfinished business in the church is gender equality,” Joanna Brooks, an English professor at San Diego State University who often writes about her experiences as a Mormon woman, told the Times. “An increasing number of young Mormon women are growing up in a world where they not only can work, but have to work, and they are operating 12 hours a day in contexts where gender is irrelevant, but in a church structure where all financial and theological decisions are made by men. This will just stop making sense.”

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