Is this the behavior of Saints?

A friend reports these signs are popping up in Utah after area authorities urged Latter-day Saints to wear masks in public.

This is exactly the reason I wrote this post. Creating a sign like this — and claiming that you are only a follower of Jesus if you follow certain worldly conditions — is exactly the opposite of what Latter-day Saints should be doing. This sign does nothing but try to exclude other people. One commenter pointed out that people who put up signs like this are like the Zoramites. I see some similarities.

What does Alma say about the Zoramites?

Alma 38: 13: Do not apray as the Zoramites do, for ye have seen that they pray to be heard of men, and to be praised for their wisdom.

14 Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are abetter than our brethren; but rather say: O Lord, forgive my bunworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy—yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times.

Should you wear a mask in Utah in public? Yes, unless you have a health condition or some other legitimate reason not to wear a mask. Should you try to follow the advice of area authorities? Yes. Obviously. Should you go around telling other people that they are apostates if they don’t wear a mask? NO. Such attacks only bring contention, which is of the devil.

As President Nelson wrote in May 1994:

Our Creator decreed “that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.”15

Intolerance seeds contention; tolerance supersedes contention. Tolerance is the key that opens the door to mutual understanding and love.

Stop with the masking shaming! Please.

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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.

32 thoughts on “Is this the behavior of Saints?

  1. I agree. I’ve also seen the opposite, with “no mask” supporters shaming. We are a world in need of charity on both sides.

  2. WOW! There really are no words for something that manipulative. Because Christ would invite you to change and do the right thing, not coerce you using guilt into doing the right thing. People need to mind their own business at this point. No one cares if you’re pro mask or no mask, and signs, memes, more articles will not change people’s minds. Last night I went on a walk with my neighbor who is very pro mask. I am very much no mask. We didn’t freak out over each other’s choices. See how minding your own business works?

  3. Agree with your points, dislike the signs, but the “mind your own business” attitude does get tricky when this issue impacts community health and other people’s lives in a very real way.

  4. “…are required to be able to call yourself my follower…”

    Might this be taking the Lord’s name in vain? See Exodus 20:7, Mosiah 13:15, et cetera…

  5. The reason for wearing a mask is: if you are asymptomatic (no signs of COVID-19, but are infected with it) you are exposing your grandparents, parents, siblings, friends and those who are elderly and have pre-existing conditions. This is why wearing a mask is so important. It is being considerate of others. It is not to protect yourself. Even a very few doctors will tell their patients it’s political. Not true. Originally, sputum (expectorated matter made up of saliva, and discharges from the respiratory passages, lungs, mouth, nose) was said to travel 6 feet, just in conversation. Not true. Nearly 60 years ago, it was known to travel 20 feet, just in conversation. It is so simple to be considerate of others. This is why we are asked to wear a mask. This is why this virus has spiked in the United States.

  6. If I wanted to use the pandemic to destroy the United States, here is what I would do:

    First, I would impose draconian social restrictions that would crash the economy, drive millions out of work, cause massive collateral damage re: suicide, drug use, abuse, etc, and trample all over constitutional rights like freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, etc.

    Second, I would employ an obvious double standard when enforcing these restrictions, releasing dangerous felons into the general population while imprisoning business owners who refuse to comply with the lockdowns, or turning a blind eye to BLM protests while cracking down on protests against the lockdowns.

    Finally, as cheap, effective, and relatively unobtrusive solutions to the pandemic emerge, I would do everything in my power to politicize those solutions. Zinc, hydroxychloroquine, and azyithromycin? Can’t use that—it’s a Trump thing. Face masks? Can’t use that—we’re patriots.

    Now, if my goal was to use the pandemic to destroy the church…

  7. Joy,

    It is very telling that you aren’t addressing the issue of the sign or that you can’t see the problem with it.

  8. Well said, Geoff.

    I understand being resistant to compulsion, while heeding persuasion. Utah’s Area presidency didn’t command, leaving us our agency, which I appreciated.

    I wear one when I’m in a position to encounter others. This is not frequent; I stay at home as much as I can because I’m high risk, and am able to work full time from home. We occasionally have dinner with my parents and brother – also high risk, so when any of us is particularly vulnerable or feeling less than 100%, we steer clear.

    I’m as annoyed by those who rage at those not wearing one, and the non-wearers who disparage those who do.

    Contention is bad. So is fear, which I think leads to so much contention. Concern about the virus is understandable. So is concern about the economy, the emotional hit from all the isolation, the long-term impact on our kids, the uncertainty as to when this might all end. There is little to the overall madness that we control, so we look for ways to control what we can. Too many, sadly, think they can control the actions of others.

    Perfect love casteth out fear. We should try as often as possible to see others, particularly those doing what we wish they wouldn’t, through His eyes. Before we declare ourselves without sin and start hurling rocks.

  9. I wonder if the message was against abortion rather than for masking… Would that sign cause the same consternation?

    “Opposing abortion is required to call yourself my follower.”

    Or “Keeping the law of chastity” or “Being baptized”? Would those messages be as troublesome presented in the same manner?

  10. Old Man,

    Good questions. I will give you my answer.

    Yes it would be just as wrong. This sign claim to use the voice of the Lord to manipulate. Let the Lord make judgements by himself. I find this device disturbing.

    Also remember that you, I or this sign can be right, but still be wrong.

    I just read an article about a couple in California that was eating a picnic at a dog park when a woman came up to them an maced them for not wearing a mask. I thought of this sign when I read the story.

    One last thought, good people can have differing opinions on things.

  11. Geoff, and apparently most commenters:

    My take is that the sign is mocking the church’s request to wear masks.

    I think it reads like it came from a critic of the church, or a disaffected member.

    Does anyone else share this take on it?

  12. Book, I think that is possible. But I have seen plenty of “orthodox” people on other social media sites defend this sign as appropriate. So, apparently there are “orthodox” people who agree with this very problematic message. My post is aimed at them.

  13. Geoff, I understand who your target audience is, and what you’re saying to them.

    But if I saw the words of that sign in an anonymous blog comment here, I would immediately think “troll.” It has that tone, IMO. The orthodox generally don’t have that tone, but some are sometimes susceptible to such trolling because they don’t recognize the troll’s snark, and take it at face value.

    Or, there might even be a double head-fake going on. Unless you personally know those who do agree with the sign, I suppose some of them could be trolls too, critics who are also trying to embarass members. If the sign is false-flag, then some of those who agree might be false-flag.

  14. I don’t think the sign is appropriate, though it isn’t that far from the 6/24/20 joint statement by multiple religious leaders including an LDS Utah Area authority when they said, “We recall that the greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is like unto it, to love one’s neighbor as oneself. One cannot claim to love one’s neighbor while deliberately putting them at risk. … Please join us in continuing to take action to prevent the further spread of the pandemic by wearing masks in public and maintaining physical distancing.”
    And, if we are so offended by this sign we might want to take a look at the many signs of virtue signalling that we support like those related to tattoos, two earrings, white shirts, sleeveless tops, etc which have offended others.

  15. Book,

    There is always the possibility that this is a troll. I guess I was naiive enough to take it at face value without considering the possibility. Quite honestly, I hope it is just a troll. In any case, let’s be kind to everyone, especially those with whom we disagree.

  16. The sign is off. Whether it was someone’s well-intentioned attempt to “support” leader direction or a troll mocking leader direction, it’s off..

    I know masking up and obeying the law of chastity aren’t exactly analogous, but which of us would like to see a sign on the Church lawn declaring that adulterors and fornicators aren’t followers of Christ? Much more universal agreement with the concept, in Church circles. But off to post in that manner.

  17. Perhaps a sign suggesting that Jesus would encourage you to wear a mask, based on the second commandment of “loving your neighbor as yourself” and therefore you’d want to not put them at risk like @KarlS mentioned without suggesting that not doing so prevents you from being a follower? You can still belong to a religion whilst not being perfect/obeying all of its commandments at a certain point – I mean, if the criteria to be a Mormon or any other faith is to never slip up in anything the faith tells you/encourages you to do, there’s be zero members in almost every religion in the world!

  18. AK, I would not object to a sign saying that Utah area Authorities are encouraging all people in Utah to wear masks in public. But this sign is wrong in many ways.

  19. I recently confronted a gentleman in a post office. He was not wearing a mask. I did not mince my words. He complained about my style. He wanted me to be polite, respectful … nice. I offered him a mask, he batted it away. A postal worker offered him a mask, he continued addressing his package without the mask. Belittled the usefulness of masks. I spoke of him putting people at risk, especially the postal workers obliged to work for hours in a closed space with scofflaws like him entering all day long with no regard for their safety. And I spoke of death. I spoke of death because it was close at hand, stalking the vulnerable, borne by the heedless. Five people we had just lost to the virus at our assisted living center — Lorraine R. (who had a pixie’s smile and eyes and a love of fifties and sixties rock and of our daughter and her dog – she died on the 4th of July) and Enedina A. and Mary L. (who always greeted me – Hi, Jim — and never ever complained of anything although she required weekly dialysis) and Gary B. and Jeanne K (who though only in her sixties had lived in the center since 1998) – all taken by the virus within a span of two weeks.
    There was a time when smoking indoors in public places was the norm. It poses a long-term health risk. Laws were passed. It would be entirely consistent – correct me if I’m wrong – for someone choosing not to wear a mask indoors to light up indoors. Demonstrate their rights as freeborn Americans.

  20. James Heywood, you seem quite proud of yourself. Yes, the guy should have been wearing a mask inside a Post Office. Question: do you know that you actually just put yourself at MUCH higher risk of contracting COVID 19 by confronting this unmasked guy? Based on your description, you could have just walked by this unmasked guy, and your chances of catching COVID from him were zero. But by stopping to berate him, you had contact with him and droplets from his unmasked mouth certainly came close to your mouth and nose. So, I would classify your behavior as either 1)hypocritical because you don’t really think there was much of a threat from this guy or 2)incredibly risky and stupid, because you could have just contracted the disease, and then you will pass it on to other friends and family members. Which one are you: hypocritical or stupid?

    You are correct that it used to be normal for people to light up indoors, on airplanes, all over the place. I am very happy that this has changed. People stopped smoking around other people and in public spaces because of years of persuasion using health studies, lawsuits and changing laws in some cases town by town. It was an excellent example of how republican government should take place. But I also can report that people who berated people for smoking often got themselves beaten up, stabbed, shot, etc. There is this old adage that Americans used to know, which is, “mind your own business.” It is not a healthy habit to go around telling other people what to do. You may catch COVID 19 from the person you are verbally bullying, first of all, but you also might get beaten up, stabbed, shot, etc. Are you sure the gentleman you were yelling at did not have a knife or gun hidden somewhere? You could have very well ended up dead — the guy could have been a complete maniac. If you don’t believe me, do a search on “fights over masks.” You will see dozens if not hundreds of cases of people fighting each other because people decided not to mind their own business.

    I don’t see your behavior as heroic (which is how I am taking your comment — you appear to think you are some kind of hero). I see your comment as showing an incredible lack of self-awareness and, as I say above, either hypocrisy or stupidity. And if you keep on doing this to other people, you may very well end up dead, either from COVID or killed by some maniac because you wouldn’t mind your own business.

    Take some advice: mind your own business. You will definitely live longer that way, and so will your friends and family. (And, yes, you are correct that the guy should have been wearing a mask in the post office. Let somebody else deal with that issue, like the workers at the post office if they choose to do so.)

  21. James Heywood, what if the guy in the post office had looked you right in the eye and said “I’m asthmatic,” and went right back to addressing his envelope? You have no idea if he’s telling the truth. You don’t know him from Adam. Do you continue to judge him?

  22. Geoff B
    At no point did I yell at him, he did not yell at me. I did not step toward him, he did not step toward me. The exchange lasted maybe 5 minutes as we continued to do our business. Because of the exchange of words, a postal worker came out not to tell either of us to settle down, but to offrer the maskless gentleman a mask. And when I returned to my truck, a gentleman who had witnessed the entire confrontation gave me a thumbs up. Why are you so angry?

  23. James Heywood, I am not angry. Actually, I found your comment quite funny in a way, but at the end of the day I am sincerely concerned about your health and the health of other people who go around telling other people to wear masks. People do not like being told what to do. I am sure you don’t like being told what to do in certain areas of your life. People are called “karens” and “busybodies” for a reason: people make fun of them because they are annoying. A civil society depends on a layer of good behavior. The police cannot be there all the time to arrest people who threaten each other or even beat each other up. The truth is that even in the best of times a lot of physical confrontations never get handled by the police. And even in the best of times you simply don’t know how crazy that stranger is that you are talking to. A quick story. I was living in Miami and I walked by a guy’s house and his dog chased after me and bit my leg. I was on the public sidewalk, not on his private property. I swore at the dog and yelled at it to go home. The stranger came out of his garage with a baseball bat and chased me down the street. What did I do wrong? I swore and yelled at the guy’s dog — didn’t hurt it in any way. And the guy went crazy. He would have beaten me up with a baseball bat if I had not out-run him. I tell you this story because my primary motivation is that I don’t think you realize how many insane people there are in the world. Take this message to heart: mind your own business. You will definitely live longer, and you will be a happier person if you mind your own business. You cannot count on the police to protect you — especially now when budgets are being cut and police are all on the defensive because of the protests and riots. Police have much bigger things to worry about than you getting beat up by a maniac because you told him to wear a mask.

    But, yes, you are still either a hypocrite and/or incredibly stupid. You story proves it, and it is still funny (and kind of sad) that you don’t get it. So, when you saw the guy with the mask, you could have left him alone. He would have finished his business at the post office and left. The guy either has COVID or does not. But literally the stupidest thing you could do, if you are really concerned about COVID, was to have a five-minute conversation with the unmasked guy. Did it ever occur to you that he might have infected you with the virus? That mask you are wearing (presumably) does very little to truly protect you during a five-minute face to face conversation with somebody. If you really were concerned about this guy having COVID (which I doubt), literally the stupidest thing you could do is to have a conversation with the guy. I think it is more likely that you didn’t think he had COVID but you wanted to tell him how right you are and how wrong he is, which means you are a hypocrite because you weren’t really worried about COVID. You were worried about telling somebody else what to do, which brings me to the above point. You can get hurt these days telling other people what to do. People don’t like it. In the future, please just mind your own business.

  24. I just read your reply. It does no good discussing further; you clearly never noticed the pained heart beating at the core of my remarks. Due to the virus, my wife and I have experienced the death of people we cared for on a scale we could never before have imagined and it was due to a simple disregard by some people for the safety of others. I wear a KN95 mask in public spaces, that protects me from becoming infected as much as any mask can. I do not want to carry the virus back with me to our assisted living center, where I come in close contact with vulnerable residents. At one point or another, more than half of our staff became infected and had to stay home to recover. Etc. etc. Enough said on that point. The gentleman at the post office and I never stood face to face, but you’ve got your cartoon version of our encounter in your mind and it’s clear I can’t dislodge it. Two quick points and an anecdote: Point 1) Our local PBS station had a feature today on employees coming to harm trying to enforce mask wearing. It is dangerous. But why should those people obliged to work hours at a stretch in post offices, stores, etc. be left to fend for themselves? Can’t we as customers self-police, so to speak, show them that we stand with them in trying to ensure their – and our own — safety (the virus strikes quickly, we went weeks and weeks with nary a sniffle among staff and residents, then all hell broke loose)? The blatant disregard for the safety of the postal works was an explicit component of my remarks to the gentleman in the post office. Point 2) When I was growing up there wasn’t a week went by that I and my friends and family didn’t sing the words “Do what is right, let the consequence follow …” The anecdote: Years ago I attended a college football game with someone I respect. At some point a drunken man began berating in the most vile and racist terms a couple sitting near us. At the time I thought they were probably students from China. My impulse was to speak up in their defense, but I said nothing. I said nothing because of who I was sitting with, I didn’t want to make a scene, something the people who knew me knew me for. So, I sat in silence. Everybody sat in silence as that vile man abused those poor people – guests in our country — so very alone in our midst. We failed them. And I have never forgotten my failure and my deep and irremediable shame. But I was raised on a Mormon concept of repentance, so …

  25. James Heywood, you write: “I do not want to carry the virus back with me to our assisted living center, where I come in close contact with vulnerable residents.” I completely agree. This would be a horrible thing to do. So, stop confronting people who are not wearing masks! You are unnecessarily coming into contact with unmasked people who may have the virus. Just walk on by. The Church has told people in Utah to wear masks in public, as have other organizations. The word is out there. No reason for you to risk yourself and the vulnerable residents you speak of by coming into contact with unmasked people.

    I don’t usually do this much back and forth with commenters, but I wanted to present to you, in a very forceful fashion, another viewpoint you may not have heard. There is nothing heroic about confronting people not wearing masks. You are not going to change any minds. You are only going to cause an unnecessary confrontation that is going to solidify the idea in the non mask wearer’s mind that mask people are busybodies who love telling other people what to do. I am quite serious when I say it simply will not work and is, at the end of the day, more dangerous than anything else. And, yes, I feel your pain to a certain extent. I know people who have died from the virus. My eldest daughter was sick for three weeks and just went through a scary moment of blood clots in her leg. She was really scared about those blood clots, which luckily she caught early. But COVID has some weird side effects that can affect people months after other symptoms stop, and I am very worried about my daughter.

    Regarding your football story, I hate to tell you but I have spoken with football security, and they say the best thing you can do with horrific, racist drunks like this is inform security and let them deal with it. I have been involved in martial arts for many years, and there is a part of me that would like to take care of the drunk guy, either verbally or physically if necessary. There are few things I despise more than drunk racists screaming at the people around them. It is disgusting. But unfortunately your getting involved would have likely made the situation worse, and you may have ended up getting arrested for getting involved. I know it is not just, but it is simply a fact: ignore the idiots in the stands. Engaging with them only makes things worse. So, what you should have done is 1)informed security and 2)talked to the Chinese people and welcomed them to our country and been friendly to them so they see that not all people are idiots like that one guy.

  26. Let’s face it. If you don’t want to wear a mask, don’t wear one. If you don’t want to deal with the consequences, stay home. If you want the endorsement of people you put at risk you’re living in Fantasyland.

  27. Here is an idea. (Better late than never).

    The sooner we get this pandemic over, the sooner we can go back to snarking around about BYU/UofU/USU football. Man, I am so missing the hope that the Cougs lose every week!

    So as a show of loyalty to your favorite team, do anything and everything that MIGHT work to stop the pandemic, especially things that smart people recommend. Get BYU football back to being spanked often. The typical no-mask-for-me fool cares more about football than Jesus. Put a helmet on that Norse God with reddish hair and a red robe masquerading as Jesus on the poster. He sure don’t look Jewish to me.

    Theoretically, we could stop the pandemic in a couple of weeks if nobody infected anybody else. Those refusing to cooperate deserve the same respect rowdy, drunk fans show each other.

    But hey, if you want BYU and USU to lock their entire football teams into a bubble at an abandoned ski resort and only play each other all next fall, winter….Heck, if enough of us refused vaccination we could keep this pandemic going for a maybe decades, if we get really stupid about it.That would save the social security system from bankruptcy.

    There is so much misunderstanding about masks as if they were invented yesterday. Consider 2 questions:

    1, Why do surgeons wear masks in the operating room?
    2. Why do pathologists wear masks doing autopsies on corpses with dangerous infections?

    How have they worked for the past, say 100 years?

    You do not have the right to make personal choices that hurt or might hurt other people. The longer this goes on, the worse the economic damage, the higher our taxes, the more inflation,etc. and the more people die. I haven’t heard any reports, mask or no mask, of the cumulative number of dead going down, from resurrections, necromancy or whatever.

    One last crack. The virus mutates constantly. Each infecting virus particle makes millions of copies in minutes and each infected person harbors millions of individual viruses, all with slight variations from genetic rearrangements. It is like hyper evolution. The possibility that a new and much more dangerous strain emerges goes up, the longer the pandemic lasts.

    Will you persist with your personal rights if the fatality rate were to jump from <1% to say 50%???? 1%, 10%, 50%. Who cares when you are one of the dead.

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