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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended June 11, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 05Jul00

Summarized by Eileen Bell

Bill Allowing Foreign Missionaries in US Clears Senate Committee
(Panel OKs 'Mother Teresa' bill)
Deseret News 9Jun00 N1
By Lee Davidson: Deseret News Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC -- The full U-S Senate will soon be considering a bill important to the growth of the LDS Church around the world. The "Mother Theresa Religious Worker Act" allows missionaries from other countries to serve in the United States. While the law currently permits missionaries to enter the US, this legislation would make that law permanent. The bill has now been endorsed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The endorsement allows it to proceed to the full senate. It was drafted by Senator Spencer Abraham of Michigan who named it after Mother Teresa. Shortly before her death, she had written to him asking for help soher nuns could work more easily in American inner city areas. Elder Ralph W. Hardy of the Seventy testified before congress concerning the Church's stance on the bill.  He told a hearing in Washington that some foreign missionaries can learn about the LDS Church structure when they see it in action in the U.S. "The missionaries are able to see how our church, with its volunteer lay leadership, operates in the United States, and they return to their home countries with this institutional knowledge, which in turn strengthens the church and its lay leadership in these countries." LDS Senator Orrin Hatch calls the bill crucial for other reasons. He says "Religious organizations need to have the ability to sponsor individuals to provide services to local communities." Currently, legislation allows ten thousand foreign missionaries into the U.S. each year on a temporary basis.  The new legislation would not set up immigration possibilities or increase numbers. It would just guarantee that the current policy continues to exist. Half of the ten thousand are ordained clergy, while the rest can hold various service positions.


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