“Mormon missionaries’ lifestyle is filled with structure and sacrifice,” reports Michigan’s Midland Daily News.

Mormon men are expected to serve two years as missionaries, while for women such service is optional and only lasts 18 months.

The lifestyle and rules of Mormon missionaries is demanding and rigid. They are specifically trained to present six precise and pre-set one-hour lessons in exact succession to potential converts.

Every day missionaries get up at 6:30 a.m., study the scriptures for three hours and then begin working their assigned area. They have one hour for lunch, then work until supper and continue working in the evening until near Bedtime, which is at 10:30 p.m.

Their required dress includes white shirts, black ties and slacks. Men must be clean-shaven, have short hair and avoid face piercings. Women must wear blouses, sweaters and skirts and also appear very conservative. They must address each other as “Sister so-and-so” or “Elder such-and-such.” They don’t use first names.

All this can be seen as a way of breaking down individual identity. Missionaries may cease to see themselves as unique and instead form a group sense of identification and related mindset.

Mormon missionaries are only allowed to phone their families twice a year, on Christmas and Mother’s Day.

Cut off from even their families, the missionaries have no meaningful outside frame of reference, but are largely locked into an environment completely controlled by their church. And this is reinforced by the rule that they must never be alone, are required to work in pairs and always be within speaking distance of each other at all times.

This can be seen as a means of monitoring every missionary, closely and constantly.

All media is prohibited. This includes television, radio, newspapers and magazines. Access to information is thus controlled.

One missionary told the Midland Daily News, “It’s about focus. For me, after I talk with my parents, I mean it’s really nice to talk to them, but it is so hard to get back on track.”

And a Mormon missionary can expect to be moved on short notice, if reassigned to another area they must pack up to leave and be gone within 24 hours.

One missionary said, “We are strained, stretched and stressed.”

It is interesting to note the parallels that can be seen between the rigidly structured life of a Mormon missionary and the established criteria of coercive persuasion.

Of course Mormon missionaries freely volunteer for service and such parallels might also be drawn regarding other religious orders and/or the Marine Corp.

But is being a Mormon missionary the equivalent of becoming a soldier? And are city neighborhoods somehow a beachhead?


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