To call the Mormon missionary program "God's Army" is no understatement. More than 58,000 missionaries are on patrol worldwide every year.
It appears these phalanxes of the faithful will be knocking on even more doors in the future now that the church has lowered the age that young folk can enlist—boys at 18, down from 19, and girls at 19, down from 21.
The new policy, announced two weeks ago, has resulted in a 471 percent jump in enlistments.
Here's the really interesting part—slightly more than half of the new applicants are women. Women used to make up about a fifth of missionaries.
The leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is all twitchy about how many more converts this flood of missionaries will bring in. But they seem to have overlooked the impact a flood of young, zealous women could have on the Mormon Church's doctrines that make the priesthood an ol' boys club. In a church where every man is a priest, the spiritual authority and leadership role is denied to women.
With half your missionary applicants being women willing to put a significant chunk of their youth on the line for their church, these troops might expect equality on the homefront. Rosie the Riveter meet Molly the Missionary. Unlikely? Consider the abrupt 1978 upgrade of the rights of black men in the Mormon church.