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Opinion
Virginia Postrel

Cutting-Edge Feminists of Latter-Day Saints

Over the long term, the religious groups that succeed are those that adapt their practices and institutions to cultural circumstances without abandoning their core beliefs or losing their distinctiveness.
The Mormon "brand" has changed since Ann Romney chose to raise her boys. Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The Mormon "brand" has changed since Ann Romney chose to raise her boys. Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Thanks to the First Amendment, the least regulated market in America is the market for religion. It's also one of the most competitive. To attract and retain members, religious groups are constantly adapting and innovating, in sometimes surprising ways. No one in 1970 would have imagined that by the turn of the century, evangelical Protestants would be worshipping to rock music in mega-churches.

A long New York Times article this weekend profiled another such adaptation: a change in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints's policies toward young women going on two-year Mormon missions. After the church lowered the age requirement for women from 21 to 19 in October 2012, the number of female missionaries about tripled, to 23,000.