The Mysterious No-Mask Rule

44F32E34-4B3A-4644-BD3D-EE011C27CA3B.jpgSo my ward, like probably most of yours, had our ward Halloween party this week. Likewise my ward, like I suspect most of yours, had a no-mask rule in effect. This caused some challenge for us as our son had an off the shelf Optimus Prime costume. And let’s be honest. The mask is a lot of it. We got creative and painted something like an Optimus Prime face on him. He was happy as could be and didn’t mind.

It got me to thinking though. What is the basis for this mask rule? While I can fully understand not wanting masks on teenagers to ensure you know who is at parties, the no mask rule for younger children never made any sense. Looking around I can’t see any high level Church rule for it. Yet nearly every ward enforces it.

There are also the inevitable (and dubious) theological reconstructions attempting to explain the mask ban. I’m sure you’ve heard these — the idea that they are somehow devilish or the like.

Honestly most explanations I hear are just plain silly. Anyone know where this idea came from?

(Note – I can understand being careful with masks outside as it restricts vision which can be dangerous on roads)

19 thoughts on “The Mysterious No-Mask Rule

  1. Every year I hear your question. I have no idea. I would love to hear the reason.

    Our Bishop is a recently re-activated convert. He wanted to wear a mask for our ward party and wife would not let him. He told her he could not find a rule for it. So instead of a mask he wore a lacy shroud covering on his face. Very spooky.

    No gender crossing costumes is also interesting. My mother has these funny pictures of males in the family in the 1940’s at family reunions and ward parties, dressed in their wife’s clothing in funny skits. My grandfather did not participate in such affairs, but my mother has said he used to laugh until tears came out of his eyes. Too bad we became so PC. I think people might have been a lot more fun in those days.

  2. It’s probably due to the liability involved if someone wearing a mask hurts themselves. A mask inhibits peripheral vision and makes it more likely for the person wearing it to run into something or fall and hurt themselves.

    Of course, it could just be unrighteous dominion. 😉

  3. Too bad about the no cross-dressing thing. I can still remember a church Halloween party where the Bishop and his wife came dressed wearing each others High School clothes. She had been a cheerleader and he had been on the baseball team. It as hilarious.

  4. I heard from my sister-in-law’s nephew’s BFF’s produce supplier that he knew somebody at the church office building who heard that a co-worker was caught playing with a Ouija board while wearing a Halloween mask by none other than Thomas S. Monson himself, who happened to see him through an apartment window while on his way to a hospital to minister to one of the old women in the ward he was bishop of 60 years ago. Also, I read that same story on Wikipedia. Taken together, this information is indisputable.

  5. We’re having our ward Halloween party in about an hour. I’ll ask my bishop his take on the reason behind the no-mask rule. I think the no cross-dressing rule is simple: people are likely to take things too far.

  6. Bill- No mention of you in Elna’s book that I remember. Do you know Elna? She says she changed names to protect people’s privacy. The nephew of a close friend of mine kind of got a mention. Yours is an awesome costume. I have seen it before and I believe you have attained some kind of celebrity status in Mormondom. Elna’s greatest Halloween costume was a fortune cookie that morphed into something else, I can’t say in mixed company, was classic as well

  7. I have always been told that people are more likely to behave inappropriately if they have the anonymity from wearing a mask.

  8. I have heard it is to keep rowdy people from crashing the party because of course everyone wants to crash the ward Halloween party.

  9. I think it’s kinda ironic that Heavenly Father’s plan did not allow Lucifer to come down and force us to do things his way so that we would return to our Father’s kingdom; now we have done it to ourselves with line upon line of rules with excuses such as they are there to make the ward members “safe” or because people would get carried away and go too far. Deal with safety and obnoxious people on a case by case basis and let us learn by our own experiences, thank you very much!

  10. Bubbatis, you may be on to something there.

    Somehow the rule didn’t get completely enforced at our ward’s Halloween party – there were a few kids wearing masks, or otherwise had their faces covered. It made me uncomfortable to say the least.

  11. The unwritten order of things aside, if it’s not in the CHI, it’s not a rule but tradition/folklore n’est-ce pas? Safe to ignore this one in 2009 me thinks.

  12. Please refer to the post “Enjoying Halloween” on the ‘by common consent’ blog for several comments on masks. Also interesting discussion on Halloween.

    For JA Benson’s Bishop, the mask rule is in the Activities Manual.

  13. Here’s the word from my bishop:

    He thinks the “no mask” policy was actually from a memo that came out from the Brethren sometime fairly recently and that it has not been put the bishop’s manual yet. He believes it is primarily aimed at teenagers and adults, who are more likely to do stuff they shouldn’t if they are behind masks. His point is that most Halloween parties are in chapels, and he believes the Brethren are concerned about members’ behavior in chapels, that it should at all times be reverent and not part of a rowdy party. The concern about masks giving people anonymity and encouraging possibly questionable behavior. The no-mask rule was extended to kids just to make it easier to enforce — no masks for anybody.


  14. I have no idea where this rule came from. Its very strange to me. But it was enforced at the T&T this year.

  15. In reference to the cross-dressing, a couple I taught on the mission dressed as each other at their Halloween party this year. Everyone thought it was hilarious.

  16. So far masks is concerned, the Church Handbook of Instructions says (p280) that Church units may not sponsor wearing masks, except in dramatic productions.
    Page 280 is in Book 2 in chapter 10 “Activities” and is also published separately as the Activities handbook. CHI Book 2 was published in 1998 and is the one in current usage. It’s under the heading “Unapproved Activities”.

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