I was right about masks from the beginning

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Friday that a universal mask mandate is no longer in place for Church members. The Church is encouraging local LDS leaders to follow guidance from “local health and government officials and local customs and conditions.”

When leaders of my church first began encouraging mask use in the second half of 2020, there were literally dozens of LDS intellectuals claiming the mandate was for health reasons. I heartily disagreed and pointed to the many years of studies indicating that almost all masks are useless against viruses. The science has not changed: almost all masks are as useful in stopping a virus as a chain link fence is in keeping out mosquitoes.

The mask mandates were never about health, and I don’t believe Church leaders ever believed the mandates were about health. The mandates were about government control and offering a frightened populace some symbol that governments were “doing something” about SARS-CoV2. It is worth pointing out that hundreds of individual stakes, including mine, told members they did not have to wear masks before the February 18 announcement from the First Presidency, so if the FP announcement imposing masks was a commandment of some kind, why did these stake presidencies commit apostasy?

Over the months I have linked to dozens of studies on masks showing that masks do not stop viruses.

Just to give one example, here is what a leading surgeon and the former editor of a medical journal has to say:

A response to people who use the classic fallacious argument, “Well, if masks don’t work, then why do surgeons wear them?”

I’m a surgeon who has performed more than 10,000 surgical procedures wearing a surgical mask. However, that fact alone doesn’t really qualify me as an expert on the matter. More importantly, I am a former editor of a medical journal.

I know how to read the medical literature, distinguish good science from bad, and fact from fiction. Believe me, the medical literature is filled with bad fiction masquerading as medical science. It is very easy to be deceived by bad science.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve read hundreds of studies on the science of medical masks. Based on extensive review and analysis, there is no question in my mind that healthy people should not be wearing surgical or cloth masks. Nor should we be recommending universal masking of all members of the population. That recommendation is not supported by the highest level of scientific evidence.

First, let’s be clear. The premise that surgeons wearing masks serves as evidence that “masks must work to prevent viral transmission” is a logical fallacy that I would classify as an argument of false equivalence, or comparing “apples to oranges.”

Although surgeons do wear masks to prevent their respiratory droplets from contaminating the surgical field and the exposed internal tissues of our surgical patients, that is about as far as the analogy extends. Obviously, surgeons cannot “socially distance” from their surgical patients (unless we use robotic surgical devices, in which case, I would definitely not wear a mask).

The CoVID-19 pandemic is about viral transmission. Surgical and cloth masks do nothing to prevent viral transmission. We should all realize by now that face masks have never been shown to prevent or protect against viral transmission. Which is exactly why they have never been recommended for use during the seasonal flu outbreak, epidemics, or previous pandemics.

The failure of the scientific literature to support medical masks for influenza and all other viruses is also why Fauci, the U.S. Surgeon General, the CDC, WHO, and pretty much every infectious disease expert stated that wearing masks won’t prevent transmission of SARS CoV-2. Although the public health “authorities” flipped, flopped, and later changed their recommendations, the science did not change, nor did new science appear that supported the wearing of masks in public. In fact, the most recent systemic analysis once again confirms that masks are ineffective in preventing the transmission of viruses like CoVID-19.

So, we must ask ourselves in retrospect, why did the position on masks change all of a sudden in April 2020?

Two words: fear and control.

An unscrupulous media had stirred up the populace into a mania of fear over a virus that had a 99.8 percent survival rate for most people, and most government leaders felt they had to do something — anything — to show they were acting. So all of a sudden, masks were mandated across the globe. If there is any doubt that people can lose their liberty in the space of just a few months, we have just lived through it.

The position of the LDS church was always the same: 1)wear a mask if your government tells you to and 2)wear a mask to show concern for people (the elderly, for example) who may be at high risk.

So in August 2021, the Church issued a statement from the First Presidency asking people to wear masks and encouraging people to be vaccinated. I will note that the FP has never repeated this guidance. But on Friday the Church rescinded the mask guidance and encouraged people to wear masks based on local conditions. In other words, now that many governments are rescinding their own mask mandates, masks are no longer required at church.

So, if Church leadership truly believed that masks were necessary for health, wouldn’t the Brethren have insisted on continuing the mandate? Many virtue signaling left-wingers say they will never stop wearing masks — why wouldn’t the Church adopt that position if mask wearing was about health? The virus is still around, after all.

The answer is clear and it is what I have been saying since the beginning: the mask mandate is NOT about health, and Church leadership never believed it was. Church leadership simply wanted to keep up the Church’s mission, and the Church could not afford, politically, to be known as the “anti-mask church.”

So, just for the record, I would like to point out that I was publicly and privately labeled an apostate by dozens of people, some of them former friends, for the last 18 months or so for simply repeating the science on masks and for pointing out that the Church suggestion was not about health but instead was a response to government mandates. To sum up: I was right, and all of these people, most of whom were repeatedly rude and insulting to me, were as wrong as wrong can be.

I do not expect any of them to apologize, because all of them have proven that they have zero integrity. But perhaps some of them will surprise me. And if they do, I will acknowledge that I was wrong about their lack of integrity, and I will reach out a hand in friendship. It takes a big person to admit you were wrong. Will any of you do it?

This entry was posted in General by Geoff B.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

24 thoughts on “I was right about masks from the beginning

  1. I know it’s no consolation but I’m sorry you’ve lost friends. Know you’ve gained others.

  2. Hillary, thank you. That does make things better. It is probably worth mentioning that I have been contacted over the last year or so privately and publicly by many people thanking me for taking a stand on the mask issue and the lockdown issue. And there have been several friends who have reached out to me to say that I have helped change their minds on the pandemic response. So it is not all bad — far from it. During stressful times, peoples’ true natures often are revealed, and that can go both ways. I have been heartened by the bravery of many people who have stood up against the COVID cult.

  3. Thank you for your words of truth. The misinformation and blind following of anything just because we are told to has always been something I cannot do. It’s how I ended up as a convert to this church. I lost relationships because of it. Now it seems to be happening again, although for a different scenario but it’s within the church. I can’t do it. I can’t be inauthentic, disingenuous, pretending, when I’ve done nothing but walk, no run away from all of that my entire life. My spirit won’t allow it. I’m not better than anyone else, I just can’t walk into the land of pretend and attempt to worship in a spirit of truth. The two things clash so loudly in my soul and I am caught in the middle in a battle I cannot bear. Wearing a mask in church has been like this for me, so I watch on zoom. Even that pains my soul…to see all the faces unnecessarily covered. I’ve cried to the Lord so many times. Why? I pray this is over, but my fear is it’s not.

  4. Sheila, yes, I know exactly what you mean. Here is the thing for people like you and me: we cannot stand living in a way that does not reflect truth. I am also a convert (I got baptized in my mid-30s), and the Gospel to me has always been about real, deep truth. When you live outside the Gospel and discover it at a later age, the thing that is often driven home to you is that there are so many lies outside the Gospel and so many truths when you accept Christ in your heart. So, when somebody tells you to wear a mask when you know it is all about theater, is goes against your entire being and your entire Spirit. It is not just about wearing a mask, it is about going backward and living a lie again (at least it was for me). I don’t think people who were raised in the Gospel can empathize with this feeling as much as some of us converts. This may help explain some of the disconnect between people who were born in the Church who think it is somehow easy to mask up all the time. No, it is not, at least for me and people like Sheila. For us, it is like telling us to give up the entire Gospel, and that is not something we are willing to do.

  5. I have gotten many messages over the last 18 months asking me to stop posting on subjects related to the pandemic. To the people who have written to me: you simply do not understand how serious and horrendous the tyrannical reaction to the pandemic has been. You don’t get it. I would beg you to look at what is happening in Canada where people’s rights are being trampled in the name of vaccine mandates. Do you know that people who contributed $50 to the truckers are having their bank accounts seized by the government? Do you even comprehend how serious a violation of rights this is? So, to the people asking for a change of subject, I would ask you to read Sheila’s comment and my response to Sheila’s comment to perhaps help you understand why the mask issue has been a big deal to us, and I would ask you to please consider that we are on a knife’s edge where all of our rights to liberty could be erased in the next few years.

    Now having said that, the good news is that I think we can take a break for a time, at least on the mask issue. I imagine M* will have more to say about vaccine in the months ahead, but the mask issue appears to be dead. At least we can hope it is.

  6. I rarely comment. But I have wanted to say “thanks” so many times the last 2 years. It just seemed so small and insignificant- wanting to avoid posting just to post. I convinced myself mere “thank yous” clogging up the comments were not necessary. But I’ve changed my mind.

    Geoff specifically and other posters tangentially: I want to tell you what a vital source of truthful and helpful information your posts have been as I have helped navigate my family, 4 generations, through this time. I am sorry for the arrows you have taken in behalf of the readers and not known the depth of my gratitude. These times we live are a practice, or prelude, and you should congratulated on the fine way in which you chose to stand. I am sure you have been blessed and rewarded with personal growth you can count on in coming days.

    (I am not awarding medals, nor suggesting anyone writes for praise and thanks. I am merely observing that bravery begets courage. The law of harvest would indicate that through these trying times, personal learning and growth was probably poured out and richly deserved.)

    M* posts have been a source of learning, sorting, sifting and strength and I am genuinely thankful.
    I have been taught by the examples and courage of various posters and commenters. I am grateful for this forum and all that I have learned and been reassured of by spending time here. Times ahead will be what they are prophesied and it is so reassuring to know there are fellow brothers and sisters out there as one can find here at M*.

    Thank you.

  7. NotThatMeg, thank you for your very kind comment. I cannot overemphasize how nice it is to hear that. It really makes a difference, more than you can ever know.

    Well, in the last two years since the pandemic started, we have lost some readers, lost some bloggers and and we have gained some new readers and new bloggers. About half of the commenters hate our posts and about half love them. I guess that’s what happens when you take on controversial subjects.

  8. Geoff, I’ve never commented on a blog before. I just wanted to offer a hearty “thank you” for your thoughtful research and commentary on what has been such a divisive subject for so many.

    As a private practice healthcare practitioner and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ I have had to balance diplomacy with combatting harmful lies about the “science” of masking. It has been difficult to say the least. Mostly because I care about people’s feelings, while at the same time caring about truth, (sometimes they can collide in a bad way).

    Your posts have helped me feel supported. You have given us all information that was so carefully compiled and easy to share with others. It has really assisted in presenting an organized, logical, balanced point of view.

    Thanks again.

  9. EastSide, thank you! I have tried to be logical and persuasive about this pandemic from the beginning, and it is nice to hear that I actually succeeded, at least with a few people! I have to say that I know of no other LDS site that is discussing this issue from the perspective we took here, so I am glad I was able to provide some useful information.

    Take care!

  10. Not only are bank accounts in Canada being seized, their finance minister said in a press conference last week that the government was going to start going back into people’s banking history, without cause or warrant to see if they had done anything else “objectionable”. That is chilling. Because if they can dig thru your records and make you a criminal, then everyone of us will be criminals.

  11. I’ve been reading your posts since the August announcement, and I appreciate the consolation and affirmation you provided that I wasn’t perhaps crazy.

    I do still feel angry and at ill will with those who have helped support the mandates in our church, including one who is an immunologist with Pfizer, and especially the presidency for that August message which put me in multiple uncomfortable positions. Any advice?

  12. LoneWolfGen, I think it is a trap to blame the Brethren for this situation in any way. I say this as somebody who has studied Church history in-depth. I think the Kirtland Safety Society is perhaps the best example. Joseph Smith was a prophet — of this I have no doubt. He was not a financial prophet, and it was a mistake for people to see him this way. So, Joseph Smith did not see the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society, and a lot of Saints lost a lot of money, and many of the stalwarts apostasized because of it. Several of them later came back to the Church very chastened by the experience. Their mistake had been to let the cares of the world overcome their testimony of the prophet.

    In the same way, the guidance from the Brethren on masks and vaccines made perfect sense — given all of the other alternatives. We could not be known as the “anti-vax church” or the “anti-mask church.” The Brethren asked us to wear masks and to get vaxxed, but they did not change the temple recommend questions, for example. It is not doctrine. It was a temporary response so that the Church can continue to operate in all of the tyrannical places around the world — from New York and California to Australia, NZ, Canada and Germany. In those places, members can honestly say: “look, our church tells us to wear masks and get vaxxed.” But at the same time, in other places, like where I live, you could not get vaxxed and not wear a mask and still go to church throughout the pandemic. So the Church allowed as much personal freedom as possible given the circumstances. As time goes on, the Church’s response makes more and more sense to me.

    I have heard the rumors that the Brethren heard from a GA who works for Pfizer who told them all how safe the vaccine is. Let’s be charitable and assume this GA really believed in the establishment response to the pandemic, and he is responsible for advising the Brethren in a way that we will find, over time, to be very helpful to Pfizer but harmful to millions of people. This GA will have to answer to God for this advice (which I consider to be bad advice), but so will all of us in our different decisions in life. Overall, this GA is probably a better person than I am.

    Here is my practical advice:

    1)Love your family and show special attention to your spouse, if you are married, and to your children.
    2)Go to Church either in person or via zoom and take the Sacrament. Do your calling and ministering.
    3)Pay attention to people around you who may have special needs.
    4)Go to the temple if you can take the mask for a while, and if not go as soon as the temple mask mandate is lifted.
    5)Remember that Christ is at the center of the Church and is guiding the Brethren, and He will not steer them the wrong way.
    6)Keep the commandments, read the scriptures, pray twice a day.
    7)Support your local leadership.
    8)Work on yourself — read books, learn things, exercise, lose weight, take up a hobby.
    9)Remind yourself again that the Savior is guiding the Brethren and prepare for the future. One of our responsibilities right now is to help prepare the world for the Second Coming. Think about how you can do that.
    10)Forgive the people who have transgressed against you (and there are many in my case, and I am working on it).

    Bottom line: we will get through this, and if we do it the right way we will be stronger when the next test comes along, because believe you me, there will be more tests.

  13. BTW, they’ve kicked Millennial Star off the bloggernacle so you can remove that Mormon Archipelago button if you wish.

  14. AnonAnon, yeah I noticed that several months back. Apparently you are not allowed to tell the truth about masks or vaccines on the Bloggernacle. The sad news for these people is that those of us still associated with M* really don’t care much about their opinions of us, and in fact, based on what I have seen recently, I could change the Groucho Marx quotation to say something like: “I would never want to be in a club that would have such people as members.”

    Just kidding. Some of the people in the Bloggernacle are fine people — I and many others at M* are just not interested in being in their club.

    If I had the technical skills, I would take the Mormon Archipelago link off. Not sure how to do it.

  15. @LonewolfGen,

    (Taken from my comment on another thread.)

    Here is how I square the First Presidency statement:

    I can see the possibility that the vaccine trials had a higher level of harm/deaths than the threshold allowed for approval, but still far below the number of expected deaths (due to this coronavirus’s transmissibility and virulence) had there been no vaccines.

    I suppose someone or some group (I assume in the CDC, FDA, NIH bureaucracies) made a “grown-up decision”, and opted for the lesser number of people harmed/killed. Kill/harm X people with the vaccine, …or…, allow 500X people to be killed/harmed by the virus. (500 is a made-up number, a guess, on my part.)

    This is how I parse the 1st Presidency statement… regardless of any harm/death due to the vaccine, _in the aggregate_ the vaccines are safer than the virus.

    (Analogy: yes, some saints died on the trek west, but collectively the saints were better off because they migrated. And… some just waited until the railroad was completed in 1869.)

    If one supports the First Presidency as prophets and seers, then the only valid trump-card that I see is to claim personal revelation that you, individually, are one of the exceptions. Both Pres Nelson and Pres Oaks described such exceptions in these talks:


    Politicallly, Pres Nelson couldn’t say “Get the vaccine unless you receive personal revelation directing you otherwise.” But given that he has frequently emphasized everyone should seek personal revelation, and taking into consideration both his and Pres Oaks previous talks about _rules and exceptions_, I don’t think connecting the two is a stretch at all.

    I’ve also responded to Jacob and Geoff in other threads, that another take-away I have from the First Pres statement, is that in regards to whatever factions might be taking advantage of the pandemiic as a crisis, that the 1st Pres statement strongly implied “vaccines and masks are not the hill to take a stand on.”

    These two things can both be true: 1) In the aggregate, we needed the vaccines to get over the pandemic. And, 2) The pandemic is the perfect excuse, or cover, for our authoritarian caste to implement controls that they wanted all along.

  16. @LoneWolfGen,

    I’m with you. It’s hard to go to church with people I see as actively supporting tyranny.

    What I’ve realized, watching Canada, is that the tyranny is not from the top necessarily. It’s like Geoff said in an earlier post, there are lots of people failing the test to value freedom over fake safety. That middle-grounders feel it’s more important to care for the feelings of the fearful rather than for those who are against tyranny is very telling.

    It’s not wrong to feel angry in this situation, that’s the first thing. But just remember to channel your anger in productive ways. When you start to feel angry, think of something you can do that will create rather than destroy. I like to take time to teach my kids about how bad tyranny is, even tyranny of the majority over the minority. You’ll have to find something in your life to channel that anger, but anger is just a motivational feeling, it’s only bad if you don’t properly channel it.

  17. I am grateful for your posts and positions, Geoff. You got much more right than the vast majority of folks, including the “experts” at the CDC, APA, Dr. Fauci, etc.

    I still diverge with you somewhat, however, on the First Presidency message. Here’s a line: “To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible.” I’m not sure how you don’t read that as them saying/implying masks and/or social distancing actually work. By August 2021 it was clear neither of those limited exposure to the virus and, indeed, some governments were already not mandating either of those. Was the First Presidency message a type of noble lie or an attempt to placate folks on the left?

    I’m also not a fan of the war analogy. “We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders.” To me many have used that analogy throughout the pandemic to escalate the “we/us who are the good, pro-mask, pro-vax, pro-mandate, pro-the science people versus them who are the bad, anti-mask, anti-vax, anti-mandate, anti-science other” tribalism.

  18. LL, I will have to agree with you that the war analogy seems strange, especially now that we are seeing an actual war in Ukraine. But here’s a thought: perhaps what we are meant to see is that this pandemic is part of the spiritual war taking place around us all of the time. Here’s how you win the spiritual war during the pandemic: by following the prophet, being kind to your fellow man, avoiding fear and promoting tolerance, liberty and free agency, even though there is a difficult tribal war going on around you. You lose during the spiritual war by denigrating the prophet, being unkind, being fearful and promoting the control and/or censorship of those who have other opinions. If our spirits have existed forever and always will exist, even after death, the key is how we learn and grow during difficult periods. The war cannot only be about a virus — it is about our progression.

    Regarding masks and social distancing, you are correct that one of the things we learned with omicron is that just about everybody is going to get the virus eventually, no matter what measures you take. What can I say? I tend to believe that the Brethren felt it was politically expedient — more than medically expedient — to make the statement about masks. I would not say it was about placating the left or about a noble lie — I would say it was about keeping the church open in hysterical, tyrannical places, from New York to Australia to Germany. But I can also see the other side of the argument. I would say this: I don’t go to Church leaders for health advice. I do my own research and so far that has worked for me. I am really, really healthy for a guy approaching 60 years old, and a lot of the things I have discovered about health tend to be different than what the medical establishment believes. And, frankly, some portions of the WoW get it wrong, at least for me. It turns out meat is really, really good for me personally, and eating a lot of meat is keeping me at a healthy weight. And most grains are not good for me. Obviously, the most important parts of the WoW are correct — no alcohol, no tobacco, no coffee or tea. But, as I say, I look to Church leaders for spiritual advice, where they are never wrong, not health advice.

    Thanks for the rest of your comment. Keep on coming back to M*!

  19. LL: Even if masks reduced spread by only 15%, I think that would make them worthwhile in some situations where there are people in close proximity.

    “Limit” does not mean eliminate 100%, it means to reduce from what would otherwise be.

    I think too much “all or nothing” thinking has clouded the public discourse about how viruses are spread and how mitigation measures work.

    Because of how math works, and due to the exponential nature of transmission, even a small mitigation percentage can have large knock-on effects in only a few iterations.

  20. I appreciate your comments, Geoff and Bookslinger. Nice to be able to have a civil back-and-forth.

  21. I think the real long term damage of COVID will be on family, since that is target number one for Satan. Especially marriages. If you want to be depressed, look at what is happening in divorce courts. It is ugly. But you can even see it in marriages that are still a going concern. There is no shortage of fear testing the limits on these most important relationships.

    The worst government overreach even before COVID was in family law, where you need not even break any law to be deprived of your liberty and property. As bad as false accusations are between single people, the situation is worse for married people whose spouses have turned on them. Hell on earth for man, woman and child. COVID has made it worse.

  22. Look, I sustain the prophet. But the correct response, according to doctrine AND his own teachings, should have been to seek personal revelation. There are plenty of people who should not get this shot. To universally rubber stamp it is madness, especially from someone who puts his medical expertise behind it. This was NOT handy appropriately. (See also: Elder Rasband)

  23. @ C Arkell: In a church that almost constantly teaches and preaches personal revelation, leaders (at all levels) should not need to append “unless you receieve personal revelation to the contrary”. It should go without saying.

    Pres Nelson strongly emphasized, before the pandemic, that personal revelation is strongly needed for our spiritual survival.

    See my above comment of Feb 23, for more of my thoughts regarding your concerns: https://www.millennialstar.org/i-was-right-about-masks-from-the-beginning/comment-page-1/#comment-187527

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