Church leadership came out with the following statement today:
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent the following message on Thursday, August 12, 2021, to Church members around the world:
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
We find ourselves fighting a war against the ravages of COVID-19 and its variants, an unrelenting pandemic. We want to do all we can to limit the spread of these viruses. We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population.
To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible. To provide personal protection from such severe infections, we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.
We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders. Please know of our sincere love and great concern for all of God’s children.
The First Presidency
Russell M. Nelson
Dallin H. Oaks
Henry B. Eyring
This statement has already been sent to me several times by triumphant people who hate the common sense things I have written on M* since the start of the pandemic. If you want to see hatred, you should see the emails and messages I get. But even if there are hundreds of people out there who apparently hate me, I do not respond in kind. The Gospel is not about hate, it is about loving God, loving Christ and supporting Church leadership.
I support Church leadership. I support my bishop, I support my EQ president, I support my stake president, and I support all Church leaders including President Nelson, who I have no doubt is inspired.
So, will this message change me or what I write? No, it will not. Here is what the people who hate me do not apparently understand: I have no problem with voluntary calls by the Church or anybody else for people to wear masks and get vaccinated. My concern has always been with government mandates for lockdowns, masks or vaccination. The Church asks for voluntary measures, not mandatory, government enforced measures. I have no issues with that.
When my local ward said we must wear masks to Sacrament meeting, I went every week and wore a mask. When the temple said we must wear masks if we wanted to attend, I wore a mask (and fyi: the masks turned out not to be required when I actually got there, but I was willing to wear a mask to attend. There is a lot of social distancing at our local temple). When a brother I minister to asked me to wear a mask when I visit, I wore a mask without a problem. The Church is asking members to get vaccinated. I have said from the beginning of the pandemic that I am open to getting vaccinated eventually. I have already gotten COVID, and I have anti-bodies, so I don’t need to get vaccinated now. But some day? Sure. I have written multiple times that people at high risk from COVID should be vaccinated.
My primary message today is to the many hundreds of people I know personally and have heard from in the last 18 months who oppose the Church’s position on masks and vaccines. The Church is still true. Nothing has changed. Why is the Church taking a position that you find difficult to support, a position that is not supported by many scientific studies? The Church’s mission is to spread the Gospel. The Church cannot be known as the “anti-vax church” or the “anti-mask church.” In addition, the Church has a long history of supporting vaccines. We cannot expect the Church to say that all of the past vaccines are OK, but the COVID vaccines are not.
To those who oppose the Church’s position on masks and vaccines, there is another important point: we will all be tested in our different ways as to whether we will follow the Brethren, even if we disagree. For progressive Mormons, the test over the last 20 years has been a difficult one, and many have fallen away. The progressives who I most respect are those who say, “I don’t understand and I oppose the Church’s position on this issue, but I still support the Brethren and my local leadership, and I know the Book of Mormon really was translated by Joseph Smith through the power of God.” The progressives who are still going to Church and keeping their covenants even though the Church is against gay marriage, against elective abortion, against government welfare and against the transgender agenda are modern-day heroes.
So, to my conservative friends who oppose masks and vaccines, I say: keep your covenants, keep on going to Church, keep on watching Conference, keep on going to the temple, keep on doing your calling. All will be made clear in time.
So, sorry to disappoint the haters, but I am completely at peace with the First Presidency’s announcement today.
But I do have some questions for readers to consider:
1)Do you support the Church’s positions on masks and vaccines but oppose the Church’s position on gay marriage? How about on abortion or gender identity issues?
2)Do you believe the Church is saying EVERYBODY should be vaccinated, including infants? How about women who are pregnant or people with Guillain-Barre Syndrome? (Keep in mind before you answer that the WHO has said that people under the age of 18 should not get vaccinated).
3)In our ward, we practice social distancing, but most people do not wear face masks. Do you think we are somehow violating the Church’s position?
4)Will you personally try to be kind to people who decide not to get vaccinated or wear masks?
5)Do you only eat meat and chicken during the winter, or “in times of cold, or of famine?” (See D&C 89:13 — if you have ever had a hot dog or hamburger for July 4 in the United States, the answer is no).
6)What do you think Joseph Smith meant when he said, “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves?”
7)Are the questions “do you wear a mask during social situations?” and “are you vaccinated for SARS-CoV-2?” asked during temple recommend interviews? Do you think members would act differently if these questions were asked during temple recommend interviews, and why is that?