For Mormon missionaries in hot climes, suit jackets now optional

Thu Jul 2, 2015 8:31pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Mormon male missionaries, long recognizable worldwide for their dark suits, white shirts, neckties and black name tags can now ditch suit jackets while proselytizing in hot climates, the Utah-based church said on Thursday.

More than 85,000 missionaries, known as "elders" within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), are currently trying to win converts around the globe.

"However, in some parts of world with hot climates, suit coats are impractical," the LDS Church said in a statement.

"To reduce the financial burden on missionaries and their families, elders who are called to serve in missions identified by the Church as having hot climates will no longer be required to purchase or wear suit coats."

It published a list of about 100 of its 406 missions where the new rules apply, including in Africa, South and Central America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

In general guidelines, missionaries are told they should always strive to look their best, with neat, clean, pressed clothes and "conservative hairstyle ... relatively short and evenly tapered on the top, back and sides."

The Church says missionary numbers have risen fast, from about 58,000 just three years ago.

One well-known "ex-elder" is former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who served as a missionary in France and has talked about his work as a pastor in the Mormon Church.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Editing by Eric Walsh)