Religion: Women's Rites

The Mormons modernize a supersecret ceremony

Jews have bar mitzvah, Catholics have confirmation, and Mormons have . . . endowment. Never heard of it? Not surprising, since this coming-of-age rite for all regular church members occurs only in temples that are strictly off limits to nonbelievers, and initiates vow to die rather than reveal details of the ceremony. Despite the secrecy shroud, news has leaked that Mormon officials last month instituted the most sweeping ritual changes in a century.

Among other things, the church deleted the pledge of wifely obedience demanded of women, who typically undergo endowment prior to temple marriage. Now women merely join the men...

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