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20-Aug-2018 17:39

“It’s going to be a lot more efficient.” For Mormons, this about-face on social media was a radical change, as startling as if the church had dropped its ban on beer.Until the June announcement, the Internet had been off-limits to missionaries to shield them from “worldly entertainment,” like the Times and Twitter, that could distract them from their religious calling.

Believing that accepting a new faith would be far too profound a revelation for mere chatrooms, the church instructed the inaugural Internet missionary to funnel potential converts to local missions, which could take over offline. People like L’Espérance preferred the safety of a screenname to the awkwardness of lectures from two strangers in suits.

Ryan Tucker, a missionary who helped convert him in the church’s chatroom, hailed it as a journey “from troll to testimony.” "Those chats were so amazing," says L'Espérance.

"Before I even knew much about the church, I really felt its power immediately." The teenager’s unlikely route to baptism helps explain why the white-haired patriarchs of the Mormon church stunned their followers last summer by lifting a ban barring missionaries from social media.

Along with their in-person preaching, missionaries can now use social networks to check in on potential converts, or woo new ones with status updates about the Heavenly Father.

“The principles missionaries have always been taught actually just work better online,” says Gideon Burton, a professor at Brigham Young University who has advised the church on its Internet missionary work.

Believing that accepting a new faith would be far too profound a revelation for mere chatrooms, the church instructed the inaugural Internet missionary to funnel potential converts to local missions, which could take over offline. People like L’Espérance preferred the safety of a screenname to the awkwardness of lectures from two strangers in suits.

Ryan Tucker, a missionary who helped convert him in the church’s chatroom, hailed it as a journey “from troll to testimony.” "Those chats were so amazing," says L'Espérance.

"Before I even knew much about the church, I really felt its power immediately." The teenager’s unlikely route to baptism helps explain why the white-haired patriarchs of the Mormon church stunned their followers last summer by lifting a ban barring missionaries from social media.

Along with their in-person preaching, missionaries can now use social networks to check in on potential converts, or woo new ones with status updates about the Heavenly Father.

“The principles missionaries have always been taught actually just work better online,” says Gideon Burton, a professor at Brigham Young University who has advised the church on its Internet missionary work.

ntil three years ago, Aubert L’Espérance had no idea who Mormons were or what they believed. To be fair, L’Espérance, then 15, was clueless about most religions.