By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
Big news broke in the Mormon world this weekend, when the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a lowered minimum age requirement for missionary service, most notably for women.
Women can now go out in the field to serve their church at 19, instead of 21. Though this may not seem monumental to outsiders, some Mormons say it's a game-changing moment that may rewrite women's futures and even influence broader dynamics within the LDS Church community.
“The narrative of young women has been that marriage trumps everything else as your most important spiritual pursuit,” explained Joanna Brooks, scholar, blogger and author of “The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith.” This shift “signals a reorganizing of expectations for women’s lives. … It changes the storyline.”
By 21, many Mormon women are either too deep in their search for a husband, if not already married, or too entrenched in their education or career path to step away for a Mormon mission, Brooks said. With the lowered age requirement, they have more choice. They, too, can go out in the world, study their faith intensely, follow spiritual callings and grow as individuals before they marry. And, Brooks said, they can be viewed more as equals when they return and start dating.
The surprise announcement by President Thomas S. Monson, who’s considered a "prophet, seer and revelator" by Latter-day Saints, left Brooks in tears. She wasn't alone. The Universe student newspaper at Brigham Young University reported that dorm halls "filled with shrieks, tears and disbelief." The announcement was made Saturday morning at the semiannual LDS Church General Conference, as more than 20,000 gathered in a Salt Lake City conference center to hear from church leadership. Millions of other Mormons tuned in via satellite, the Internet and television.
Not since the 1978 announcement that black men were able to serve in the priesthood has a revelation been greeted with such excitement, Brooks suggested in a blog post. That sentiment was echoed in the BYU newspaper, where an 18-year-old student drew the same parallel to '78: “It feels like one of those days. There are so many opportunities for so many more people now.”
There are 58,000 Mormon missionaries currently proselytizing in the field, of whom generally about 15% are young women, a church spokesman said. There are also older couples serving in these ranks, but the vast majority of missionaries are young men. Previously able to start service at 19, men can now answer a call to serve at 18 – giving them the option to head out right after high school, a move that The Salt Lake Tribune reported would affect admissions, scholarships and recruiting at Utah colleges. But that decision, too, is a shift that church officials hope will increase missionary numbers.
“We affirm that missionary work is a priesthood duty – and we encourage all young men who are worthy and who are physically able and mentally capable, to respond to the call to serve,” Monson told Latter-day Saints on Saturday. “Many young women also serve, but they are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men. We assure the young sisters of the church, however, that they make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome their service.”
The expectation of women to serve may not be the same, as they do not hold the priesthood. And their missions, if they do serve, are still limited to 18 months, while men serve for two years.
It's details like that that dampen enthusiasm about the age change among some Mormon women.
"We were told today that it's a vital time for the Lord's work and we need all hands on deck. Why are some hands valued more?" wrote Jana Riess, a prolific Mormon blogger and author of, among other books, "Mormonism for Dummies" and "Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving my Neighbor."
"It's progress for women. It's just not equality," said Riess, who initially shared in the tears of joy. "And after a few glorious moments of believing it would be, that stings."
But providing more equity in opportunity, in a church where change happens slowly, is the big takeaway, said Brooks, a feminist and activist who, as a college student and beyond, faced her own struggles to find her place in the only church she’d ever known.
“I would have relished the chance to get out early and put my faith to work,” she said. “Subtle changes can produce wide effects.”
I am so jealous of the men (and gals!) in the future that will get to enjoy nub.ile 18-year-old Mormon girls coming to their doors stark nak.ed and trying to recruit them to the Mormon Church. My God, it will be incredible. There they are, sitting on the sofa. The wife is still running errands. Her puffy nip.ples....her shaved va.gina....she smells wonderful....where do I sign....God forgive me but this is what you wanted and I am resolved...then she bends over to get some pamphlets....Praise God.
I hope this fellow does not have close contact with children. What a creep.
For more about the rise of the occult read the novel - Tales from the East by Ivanhoe.
Oh, my glob! When I read this, I almost had a Julius Seizure. At least, a mild Grand Mal. Finally, we'll be seeing some skirts instead of suits at my front door. I can hardly wait to attack them and mock their con-man's religion.
The LDS church will continue to change doctrine because it has too. Just like when they had to abandon polygamy and accept blacks in the priesthood. Why change? Because it is the most absurd religion ever devised by man. You can cahnge and adapt all you want. The original religion is based on lies and absurd stories that have been exposed by science and simple common sense. A seven minute video will teach you all you ever wanted to know.
This was a good piece. It would have been even better if it included the real reason why Mormonism practiced "plural marriage". That reason is plain as daylight. The elders wanted to have intercourse with all the young virgins and then keep them at home doing what women do best. Cleaning the house, doing laundry, and cooking meals.
This article is here simply to say to voters in a wink-wink-nudge-nudge way, remember Romney is a Mormon. This is racial bigotry and racial demagoguery and CNN has been guilty of it the entire campaign. It is East Coast liberal hate speech.
Then why has CNN run dozens and dozens of articles on Mormonism over the last 5-6 months? I don't recall seeing many articles on the Mormon faith before Romney was in line to challenge Obama.
So there wasn't an announcement by President Thomas S. Monson lowering the age for female missionaries over the weekend?
It can't possibly be reported in a column that includes news and OpEd pieces on the topic of religion without being part of the Liberal lamestream blah blah blah media conspiracy to re-elect President Obama?
Your own blatent biases reveal you.
obviously because having a Mormon Presidential candidate makes Mormonism more newsworthy by itself.
The big stories today were about the decline in Protestantism and the increase in the unaffilliated.
No mentions of Mormons anywhere in there. They're in the Pew report of course – but no statistically signficant changes in the number of adherents, so no news there.
Not GOPer, so if the candidate were Lutheran, CNN would run dozens of stories on the policies of the Lutheran church? the Presbyerian Church?
My Presbyerian religion does not allow me to type on these blogs, but I told them they could just fudge my butthole. Besides, I am going to start a new Meat Religion anyway, once I can get some damn money.
If Lutherans made a "surprise" announcement of a change in their religion, sure. The thing is that Lutheranism, Presbyteriansim have all settled down. They don't make "surprise" announcements very often.
And, by the way there's been a series of stories on the beliefs of the candidates, with a bunch of discussions on Catholicism but I doubt you're paying attention to those since you like the swarm of other Mormons who have responded to the call to 'get online on CNN' are only following instructions here anyway.
This topic was pretty moribund all day, and still is, compared with the topic on the increase of the 'unaffilliated'.
I grew up in the church and am a practicing member. As a woman, I have never felt that I've been treated as less than a man.
Tawanda, that is all well and good, but why are you a practicing member of something so bizarre and false?
Because the principles I've been taught are beautiful. If you truly had any interest in learning the truth about the Church, you could find out for yourself.
Go here to find out what we teach our children and strive for ourselves
Ok... so while Mormonism is bizarre and false, Tawanda is ok with it because the principles are beautiful. And these principles could not have been arrived at without the bizarre and false religion of Mormonism. Makes sense to me. Thanks.
and that is what makes the church so great is everyone is treated like a equal. Everyone is respected and everyone is treated nicely. We also are known to dontate a great deal of our time to noble causes. Soon after the Tsunami that his Indonesia, a Boeing 757 was already being loaded with tons of food and emergency survival supplies.
C U L T
Most popular degree at BYU? Mrs
very droll sir.
There's a bit of truth there. Haha!
Because Mormons and all religions are insane, and because missionaries are responsible for the destruction of more indigenous cultures than any other culprit. Mormons are evil. Religion is evil. The concept of God is evil. You are welcome.
"All religions are evil." To assign the value "evil" to all religions, implies some underlying religious belief set that good and evil exist, and are defined by someone...or something. Curious to know the source of your moral code.
I am an atheist.
I am arguing from the point of view of a believer. Would you care to explain how an omniscient and omnipotent God is not evil when the world we live in is nothing but?
Ahhh, those wonderful indigenous cultures to lament – most of them really knew how to treat a woman, and a slave, and a bordering tribe...gosh, if only we could have lived in those good old days! Oh wait, the Taliban are fighting like crazy to live that way in the 21st century, maybe you could go live with them in indigenous harmony.
Three cheers for civil discourse....oh, wait.
When our temple in BC was open to the public before it was closed for ever except to members, there was a member from another church who was brainwashed as to the evil things that happened inside the temple. He was invited into the temple and was shown all the ceremnies conducted. He then said, I WAS LIED TO BY MY CHURCH.. and said he is leaving his church because of its disonesty.
I have met MANY Mormons who were police, FBI, Fire fighters, Doctors as well as a host of other noble professions and they are the best people I have ever met.
Why the government likes LDS members, they have some of the highest moral fiber and good character and principle among the general population. We have NO PAID ministry meaning, we serve from the heart, not from the pocket book.
@24 Hour Crisis Center
Third try...posts apparently are getting filtered. This time short and sweet. I think the standard Mormon answer to "the world is evil, how can it be created by a good God" question is "life is a test, staged to see if we'll choose good, in an evil world."
If you really find that the world we live in is nothing but evil, no wonder you are so negative. Explains the pen name you have chosen. You need to either get out and see the beauty and good in it, or need some love and help yourself. It is an imperfect world, but it is also a glorious one. Love and beauty can be , literally, divine.
Why do Mormons get bashed in every article? Can't people have respect for all religions? Yay for more missionaries!
Because Mormons and all religions are insane, and because missionaries are responsible for the destruction of more indigenous cultures than any other culprit. Mormons are evil. Religion is evil; The concept of God is evil. You are welcome.
Because CNN is trying to reelect Obama and is resorting to religious bigotry to do so.
Interesting article and interesting reaction to the age lowering for missions. I am LDS and active in the church, I'm also a middle aged (45) mom of two young boys (4 & 6). I don't share the "inequality" feelings that the women in this article expressed, but then again I did not grow up in the church, rather converted at 25. I rather like the lowering of the age to 18 for my boys. They can go straight from HS to mission, then to college. It is very common that returned missionaries do better in college than they did prior to going on their missions so as a mom, I'm pretty happy that my boys won't do the graduate from HS, go to college for a year, leave on a 2 year mission, return to 3 years of college route.
As far as the very rude mormons aren't Christians comments, honestly? Really?!?! It's the "Church of JESUS CHRIST or Later Day Saints." Not Christian? Nothing could be further from the truth. Please get educated about our church before you preach against it. We don't preach against other people's religions, it's rude, insulting and honestly just in poor taste. It's really too bad your Momma never taught you that if you can't say something nice you shouldn't say anything at all.
@ Captian Moroni, nice post, great testimony...but dude you're casting pearls before swine.
Um...the "but dude you're casting pearls before swine" comes across as prideful. It doesn't resonate well with people.
What a crock of crapola. This is the religion that believes that black people sided with Satan in a pre-life. Thus the color of their skin is the mark they bear for so siding with the devil. The same rationale as to why Blacks cannot rise to the same level of priesthood as others in their faux church. Unless they made change in their 254th revision.
My favourite parts are that they believe in capital punishment particularly two methods – beheading, firing squad/shooting – why you might ask?
Because in the old testment – the believers burned offerings to God and 'the smoke would would rise up as incense' / as an offering, etc. So these cultists think that same 'smoke' ie condensation from your lungs is 'rising before God' happens via the wound/trauma holes left by their preferred methods of killing. Sorry, I almost peed myself laughing there.
Straight up these folks are whacked. Book of Moroni is right.
They teaching of Mormonism is not Christianity. How dare you bring up my Jesus..you now the one in the BIble... And add on with your book of lies ? Christians believe in one GOD. We do not strive to become a god of our very own planet. Our friends and family that aren't Christian are ALWAYS welcomed in our churches. Christianity is based on the Bible and not your false book. The moment you added on the bible you became a cult against god. You are confusing people by trying to be included as Christians, which you aren't. I am REPUBLICAN and Christian. If Romney is the best representation of Mormonism you have a problem. I thought there was no gambling but he offers a 10,000 bet? Jesus is clear in the BIBLE on how t treat the poor. Mitt should read it. I'd rather elect a scientologist because atleast they aren't putting my sweet Jesus name on the cult and trying to claim to be Christians. So yes ill be voting Obama this year. I'm not excited but if my party tanks that I am going to help promote Mormonism they have lt their minds. In mays ways they have. We wanted a moderate Christian. We are not the tea party and they are an embarrassment. So I'm sorry you got into a cult. You aren't going to be a god based on your works. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world. Give he the worship and paise he deserves... Not Joseph smith, the conman. Stop pulling people away from the truth. Jesus is the truth. The book of morman is a lie and has NOTHING to do with Christianity.
I see... trying the baiting approach with young attractive women now, I can see that working with lots of guys.... Next: Mormon bikini car washes...
I like it.
Did anyone notice all the diversity in that photo?
Dang, I wish I knew where those golden tablets are. In today's gold price I could buy my own god.
They had to lower the age to get more recruits.
The Mormon Church said I couldn't join. They don't accept towels. I tried to explain that I wanted to do my missionary work,
ya know, helpin' people out with towel safety and proper towel use. It's important!
You're the worst character ever, Towelie.
It is truly tragic that America still has its collective brain caught in the vice of religion. The civilized world laughs at us.
God is Santa Claus for adults. Why can't most of you realize this simple fact?
The harder it is to fight childhood indoctrination, the harder it is for us to break the spell. Filling young minds with literalist fairy tales is the real evil in modern America. It's one of the major reasons we're declining so rapidly in the STEM fields.
The religious nuts have become the American Taliban. In Afghanistan and other areas of the middle east, girls going to school are shot or have acid thrown in their face. In America, they are brainwashed into delusional subservience until they lose hope for being able to think for themselves and throw off the shackles of religion. Sometimes mental scars can be just as bruising as physical ones, as few things ruin a person's ability to think clearly like religion does.
Only the extreme right wing of Christianity can be equated to the Taliban. From there it's a sliding scale back to reality. Fortunately that segment of those who believe in reality is growing faster than the Taliban version or anything else in between.
@Freethinker seeking reason
Um, this doesn't sound like the post of someone seeking reason; sounds like you have already closed your mind and are set in your opinion and preaching it to the world.
And seriously? You are going to tell the hundreds of millions of bright, intelligent, hardworking women out there that they are brainless zombies if they don't give up their religious beliefs and convert to your form of reason? You definitely aren't out there to win any popularity contests...
"You definitely aren't out there to win any popularity contests."
So the object of life is to win the popularity contest? Most of the people professing atheism here know they will get a lot of push-back from the believers. Some clearly do this for the sport of it. Others out of expressing frustration. it is nevertheless a form of being true to one's self.
Yes, those women are brainless. Very clearly.
@I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV
I totally believe life should not be a popularity contest and being true to yourself is imperative, but part of being true to yourself is not being afraid to sincerly listen to other opinions and ideas. I knew I would regret the comment, but couldn't resist the underhanded compliment, basically trying to say "hey I don't have to question your motives from the standpoint that you are clearly not swayed by what other people are going to think of you".
Where do you get the idea taht religions in Ameria are all opposed to science , technology and mathematics? Many religous Americans work in those fields and promote STEM education. You need to get out more or take your blinders off.
Science and religion need not be opposed to one another. Any more than science and philosophy or art need to be opposed. They are different things, that is all.
While this makes a very lively topic of discussion, I must caution those that read information from people that are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For those that are investigating the church, let me tell you that the Heaven's are open and we have a living prophet on the earth today. There are some people quick to denounce the teachings of the Lord's church – they will have their reward. By their fruits you shall know if they are good...
1. The church is led by a living prophet like Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses.
2. There are twelve apostles as in the primitive church when Christ was on the earth.
3. God and His Son are eternal as is the family. "For this is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God and His Son whom thou has sent"
4. Marriage is ordained of God and the family sealed "for all time and eternity" when performed in God's Temple by Priesthood authority. Marriage is not just "until death do you part".
5. We believe in the Ten Commandments
6. Revelation is communication from God to Mankind. The prophet today receives revelation on behalf of all God's children whether they are members of the church or not.
7. Will you see a loved one that has passed on? Yes. Our bodies lie in the ground while our spirits go to the Spirit World where they await for resurrection. Because of the Lord's gift to us, all will be resurrected.
8 What happens if some of God's children don't hear the gospel in this life or was not baptized? They will have the opportunity to hear the gospel in the Spirit World. They still have their agency and will make the decision for themselves.
9. Is there just Heaven and Hell? No. In fact, there are three degrees of Glory referenced by the Sun, Moon, and the Stars. In latter-day scripture, it is explained as "Telestial, Terlestrial, and Celestial" glories. God dwells in the Celestial glory (kingdom). He wants all His children to be with him. In fact, Hell really symbolizes not be able to be in the presence of God the Father.
10. What are the Temples that people refer to? Temples are sacred buildings where the Lord dwells and His ordinances are performed.
11. What if my child past away and he/she wasn't baptized? Jesus gave the example that all of us must be baptized like he was performed by John being fully immersed in the water. Little children under age of accountability (age 8) are not required because they are not accountable of doing wrong. "Suffer the children to come unto me for such is the Kingdom of God". If they were older than 8 years, their names are submitted to the church by the family. The baptism is performed in proxy for the person. The apostle Paul explained that Baptisms for the dead were performed in primitive times as well – see 1st Corr. 15:29.
12. Is it important to find the very church that has the authority of Christ? Don't all christian church's have the authority? There are over a thousand christian church's today and only one of them can have the true authority of God. God stated, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism". Christ gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. This was lost when the apostles killed after the Savior's crucifixion. The dark ages last for 400 years without authority and revelation until God appeared to the boy Joseph Smith at the age 14years old. He saw a vision of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and although he and his family was tormented and the Mormon saints persecuted, Joseph never denounced the vision he saw.
13. Why is there another record called the Book of Mormon? Because this was the Lord revealing to both ends of the earth that He is the Son of God and atoned the sins of the world on all those that would believe on His name. The Bible is of the stick of Judah (Jerusalem) and the Book of Mormon is the stick of Joseph (America). Joseph is the same Joseph that was sold in to Egypt. The prophet Lehi in the Book of Mormon is a direct descendent from Joseph who took his family and fled the destruction of Jerusalem (city).
14. How can I know for these things myself? First, ask for a copy of the Book of Mormon and read sections in it. Next, no one can convince you the scripture is true but God himself through the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. This is through prayer. If you will read with real intent on knowing if true or not, you will receive a personal witness. This personal witness is a promise given in the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10: 3-5).
"Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would aask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."
15. Lastly, know this. God loves you. He knows your name. He knows your trials and your heartaches. This time is only a brief time before we will all meet our maker. Christ will come again and reign on the earth a second time. The righteous will rise and the wicked will hide their face in shame. His desires is that we all repent and do "good" in the world and live principals of righteousness. The Lord stated that those that believed in Him would be hated for His sake. I testify that this is the Lord's true church on the face of the earth.
I almost responded to this but then I thought, you must be joking. You are joking right?
Wow, you've displayed all your delusions in one post! Well done!!
Sorry, it would help that I cleaned up my spelling. The three degrees of Glory are Telestial, Terrestial, and Celestial kingdoms. This is referenced by the Stars, Moon, and the Sun (in the same order).
The three levels of heaven are better described as steerage, coach, and first class.
Can everyone guess which class of heave Mitt has purchased? First class, of course. It's only first class for Mitt, coach for the less affluent Mormons and steerage for all "those" other people.
@24 Hour Crisis Center,
Sadly it does not appear if Captain Moroni is joking. If Captain Moroni is joking, then this post should be used in the dictionary for the phrase Poe's Law.
Sadly I was joking. The Captain is not a Poe. He really is that stupid.
Hold it here apologist for the Mormon faith ... are you on crack? Families are forever in heavan? Where do you get that?
Look – God is wonderful – so wonderful you will never ever wonder about your family again while there in his embrace. So why make this tidy little world of my dollhouse view of the world is coming into the afterlife with me.
Mormons are only christian as a cover story. A mouse is more closely related to an elephant than the LDS are to christianity.
I had me a mouse once, I let it live in my toilet but it couldn't swim.
maybe it went to the planet Kolob and is now a mouse god.
I hope so cuz he was a good mouse and always cleaned up.
as someone on the outside looking in (i.e., unbiased, with no stake in the game), they're as Christian as any other sect/denomination.
perhaps if you outlined (your) definition of "Christian".
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.