Parents of Mormon missionaries will be able to hear their children's voices a lot more often under new rules announced Friday that allow the proselytizing youngsters to call home every week instead of only twice a year. The move is aimed at encouraging families to be more involved in the missionary experience, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a news release. Missionaries can call, text, or do video chats once a week on a designated day called preparation day. Previously, they were only allowed to call home on Christmas and Mother's Day. They could email or send letters once a week. The immediate change affects 65,000 Mormons serving on worldwide missions that are considered rites of passage, reports the AP.
The change triggered a slew of reaction among Mormons on social media, with some applauding the move and others expressing concern the faith was getting too soft with missionaries. Others joked that some youngsters may not want to talk with their parents every week. Mormon scholar Matthew Bowman said he suspects the change is related to the 2012 church decision to lower the age for missionaries; from 21 to 19 for women and from 19 to 18 for men. There have been reports of more missionaries experiencing anxiety and wanting to come home, said Bowman. "The idea here is to keep their spirits up and morale up and lower the degree of separation that they're dealing with."
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