Friday, July 31, 2015


Despite almost 300,000 people converting religions to the Mormon church in 2014, these numbers up against the number of missionaries are lagging. This 9 percent increase marked the largest number of converts in this history of the church, but the 44 percent increase in missionaries make the total number seem better than it was in actuality, according to the Associated Press.

Elders Andrew Jefferies and Zhuofeng Li are two of the local missionaries in Pullman, Washington, focusing on students at Washington State University. During the regular school year they get about three to four individuals interested enough to give them their phone number and about two who actually come in to the church per day, according to Jefferies.

During their walk around campus, Jefferies and Li make an effort to say hello and be friendly to everyone they pass. If an individual seems interested to talk, they try to engage them in conversation, asking if they have a religion and if they would be interesting in coming to a service at their church. They don't identify themselves as Mormon unless they get deeper into conversation, however, with the slacks in 95 degree heat and the white shirt and tie, they are easily recognizable as Mormon missionaries.

Many people will just put their head down and walk past, ignoring the missionaries and hoping they don't engage them. Logan Pillings, a student at WSU, says his first reaction when he sees the missionaries is thinking to himself, please don't talk to me. However, if the missionaries do engage him, he won't be rude and will talk to them for a minute or two. Eventually, if they go on too long he will give them his opinion on religion and go along his way.

This seems to be a common reaction around campus, especially with the Mormon religion seeming behind the times on matters like marriage equality and feminism, hot-button issues for the millennials. With news stories like the church considering cutting ties with the Boy Scouts of America over their recent vote to allow openly gay leaders as well as documentaries like "8: The Mormon Proposition" explicitly displaying the funding coming from the Mormon church to make gay marriage illegal in the state of California with proposition eight in 2013, the church is fighting an uphill battle with socially liberal college students.

The church has changed in the past to keep up with modern times, banning polygamy in 1890 and allowing blacks to become full members of the church in 1978. Institute of Religion support specialist Barbara Jo Vandehey said any changes within the church come from God, and the prophets praying about it. Elder Jefferies doesn't expect any major changes in the near future for the church.

In order to conduct an official interview with the Elders, permission had to be granted by the office of public affair for the Mormon church in Salt Lake City. There were certain things that were allowed to be discussed, and certain things that were off-limits. Anything considered controversial was not to be talked about.

No comments:

Post a Comment