What Religious Missions Mean For Mormons 04:56
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Mormon missionaries Cameron Johnson, center, and Jeremy Christenson, right, greet a pedestrian in Cambridge, Mass. (AP)
Mormon missionaries Cameron Johnson, center, and Jeremy Christenson, right, greet a pedestrian in Cambridge, Mass. (AP)

Last week we spoke with Reggie Shaw about texting while driving. Reggie was convicted in 2008 for killing two men because of his texting behind the wheel, and as a result, Reggie, a Mormon, wasn't able to go on his Mormon mission.

Reggie got just a 30-day sentence, which some felt was too short. In fact, Reggie himself thought the laws in Utah, where the accident happened, were too lenient for those who text while they drive.

He spoke to the Utah legislature and helped to get one of the most strict laws against texting while driving passed.

But his 30 day sentence brought a different reaction from Mormon Janike House. In a letters segment broadcast last week, House told Here & Now's Robin Young that even though Reggie got a short jail sentence, the fact that he couldn't go on a mission was a devastating penalty. House said (incorrectly, we now know) that if young men don't go on a Mormon mission they won't be able to "inherit celestial glory" and reach the top tier of the afterlife.

On our Facebook page, Tashera Bevan wrote "This is not true."

And a listener named Cori writes:

Serving a mission in the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints is not mandatory for entering the celestial kingdom. it is a part of the three-fold mission of the church (proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the saints, and redeeming the dead). all young men are encouraged to go, mostly for their own benefit. it is a tremendous growing experience for one both spiritually and temporally, but is in no way a requirement for salvation.

We spoke with Kathleen Flake, practicing Mormon and professor of religion at Vanderbilt University. She confirmed for us that Janike House had been incorrect.

Flake said that young men are not required to go on a mission, rather it is considered a religious duty — not mandatory. She added that going on a mission is not required to achieve the highest level of salvation in the afterlife for Mormons.

This segment aired on July 16, 2012.

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