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Leaked guidelines for LDS mobile device use could be big change for missionaries

Leaked guidelines for LDS mobile device use could be big change for missionaries (Photo: Courtesy Mormon newsroom)

(KUTV) — Mormon missionaries may now be able to communicate with their families by way of Facebook.

The MormonLeaks website has released what it says are guidelines for mobile phone use from the LDS church for its missionaries, stationed around the world, in what could be a game-changer for how missionaries communicate, including to their family by means of social media platforms such as Facebook. It was reported in October that the number of missions using smart phones would expand to 162.

The guidelines seem to open electronic communication for missionaries in order to give them the opportunity to reach people by different means.

The LDS church declined to comment on the documents, provided to MormonLeaks by an unnamed source and posted as a PDF.

One portion of the apparently new instructions said:

You may connect with family and friends through social media, but do not allow communicating with them or reviewing their posts to distract you from your purpose.

The document doesn't suggest, or limit, specific social media platforms.

Missionaries are traditionally instructed to write letters home weekly, and are allowed to call home twice a year, on Mother's Day and Christmas. The apparently new guidelines do not speak specifically about phone calls or changes to that policy. Many social platforms, such as Facebook, allow text conversations between any two people who have signed up and connected.

Ryan McKnight, MormonLeaks founder said he was told the guidelines were tested for a small group of missionaries but will be applied to many more.

"According to our source, these guidelines were given to a limited number of missionaries sometime in September of 2017 as part of a pilot program," McKnight said, "and they are currently being rolled out in approximately 160 missions. They are designed to go hand-in-hand with the use of smartphones."

The guidelines also state that on a case-by-case basis, missionaries will be able to teach those who live outside their assigned area and their mission. "...your goal is to prepare them to meet with local missionaries," it states.

It also instructs missionaries to be respectful of those around them physically and to give others full attention when they are with them.

Do not check posts or answer text messages while speaking with another person face-to-face.

In instructs them to use profile pictures of themselves in missionary attire, including the name badge, but to use their names without the title of elder or sister.

There is also a lengthy section on safeguards that includes being focused and using discipline. Missionaries are told to "Always sit or stand so that you and your companion can see each other's screen when using devices."

Missionaries are placed in pairs, called companions, and instructions are for missionaries to safeguard each other by checking browsing histories, and to review all emails, messages, posts and comments before sending with the exception of email to mission leaders and letters home.

The full document can be found as a PDF at MormonLeaks.io.

The formal name of the LDS church, often called the Mormon church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with its headquarters in Salt Lake City.

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