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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 16, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 13Apr00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

No Missionary Garb for LDS Seminaries
Salt Lake Tribune 13Apr00 N1
By Heather May and Peggy Fletcher Stack: Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The LDS Church has decided to ban "Missionary Week", a seminary activity in which students dressed as LDS missionaries during a week. Traditionally, seminaries throughout the Intermountain West have held the week for the past 15 years as a way of encouraging students to prepare for missions. But in recent years the activity has become a problem in some public schools, where non-Mormons and inactive members have found the event alienating.

Two years ago a group of students from Hunter High School in West Valley City wrote a letter to the Salt Lake Tribune calling the activity offensive because they became proselyting targets. "Some students got a little too exuberant, a little too gung-ho," said J.B. Haws, an instructor at Salt Lake City's East High School seminary. Because of this and other incidents, the LDS Church's Church Educational System has asked in the past that the week be scaled back.

Now, CES is requiring that the activities be limited to seminary buildings and kept to a single day instead of a week. Current and former missionaries may also be invited to speak to seminary students. However, wearing missionary garb in public schools has been banned.

According to Larry Tippetts, director of the Salt Lake Valley East CES area, the week was never meant to be a "mass proselytizing of the high school," but that is what happened at times as students became enthusiastic about missionary work. "There is a definite spirit among students of wanting to share their faith with others," said Tippetts. "We are not trying to say they shouldn't do that. But the danger is you always get some who are a little self-righteous or condemning and that is never right in any setting."And even in situations where proselyting wasn't involved, the day made it clear who was an active LDS Church member and who wasn't. The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah's executive director, Carol Gnade, says she gets a few complaints every year about the practice. Different LDS seminaries hold the week at different times.


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