Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mormons Allow More Technology, Smartphones for Missionaries

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mormons Allow More Technology, Smartphones for Missionaries

Article excerpt

SALT LAKE CITY * The Mormon church's gradual embrace of the digital age for missionaries took another step forward Friday as the religion announced it is nearly doubling the missions where technology is allowed and swapping out tablets for smartphones.

The change signals ongoing adaptation to reflect how people communicate and interact as the religion updates rules for young men and women who have traditionally relied on door-to-door proselytizing to recruit converts, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a news release Friday.

The number of missions using smartphones is being increased to 162, from 87 previously, the church said. It wasn't immediately clear how many missionaries that includes.

The religion said that most missionaries in the future would use smartphones.

The smartphones can be used only to help prospective converts, and not for personal browsing or texting. The smartphones will be outfitted with apps for scriptures, manuals, magazines and other teaching materials. Missionaries can also use social media to talk with potential converts.

The move comes after the Utah-based religion launched a program to give some missionaries tablets in 2014. The year before, the religion loosened rules on internet use for missionaries, allowing them to send emails to friends, priesthood leaders and new converts.

"The online world is helping those asking life's most important questions find the church," the religion said in a primer on the changes. "Technologies can identify those who might be interested in the gospel, and the church is using such tools to help those interested in spiritual things connect with the church's resources."

The Utah-based religion, which counts nearly 16 million members around the world, also said Friday that it was implementing a set of 16 standardized questions designed to ensure that local lay leaders properly screen prospective missionaries. …

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