Mormons crack down on missionaries' email

The Mormon Church, as those of us close to her know, manipulates is members in countless ways. Just when you think you have seen it all, the Church raises the bar.

The Church has just created a vivid example of its micro-management of its members' lives. Missionaries now are forbidden to email home. The Church says it is so missionaries will stay focused on their job of proselytizing. But that is only the partial truth.

I think the real truth is that young, homesick missionaries might decide to leave their missions if they have too much contact with home. A young missionary eventually wakes up to the fact that his decision to accept a mission call to Chile really was motivated by a desire to please his parents, his Bishop, and his ward, rather than a burning desire to spread Mormonism. He wonders if he has made the right choice.

So the Church dictates that he can make only two phone calls a year to the folks back home. And, as in any legalistic organization, when technology makes it possible to live the letter of the law and still communicate (email and faxes), the missionary quickly takes advantage. So the Mission President (or the Quorum of Twelve) has to plug the leak. Regulate, Regulate, Regulate! Produce a Rules on email and Faxes. Keep the people busy and out of communication. Its in their best interest.

It is possible, however, the Church has gone too far this time. (Of course, I say that all the time only to find out the capacity for Mormon sheep to be led is mind-boggling.

Time will tell. Here is the AP story:


Mormons crack down on missionaries' email
The Associated Press
--THE IDAHO STATESMAN, JAN. 10, 1998

SALT LAKE CITY--The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has banned e-mail and faxes as ways for its missionaries to communicate with families and friends back home.

Don LeFevre, church spokesman, said there are exceptions to the new policy, such as missionaries living in areas where postal service is poor.

Communication between missionaries and their families has always been tightly controlled by the church in an effort to keep missionaries, typically between 19 and 22 years old, focused on their work, he said.

Missionaries are allowed to phone home only twice a year, on christmas and Mother's Day, and are not supposed to write letters more than once a week.

LeFevre said that given the convenience ofe-mail, "some missionaries may be communicating more than once a week, and that would detract from missionary work."

Bonnie Carter of Orem called the ruling "a cruel move" at a time when several missionaries have been injured or killed in foreign countries.

Carter's son, Andrew Carter, is on a 2-year mission for the church in Sweden. For a number of months, Andrew Carter has been sending his family a weekly e-mail from a library.

Carter said there have been occasions when she and her husband needed to communicate with their son about urgent matters, such as insurance or wiring money.

"By the time he's written us and we've written him 20 days have passed," she said.