The county where I live in Colorado lifted its mask mandate over the weekend, and happy Latter-day Saints responded by getting rid of their masks at church today.
It was great to see everybody’s faces, and people were happy and optimistic. A week ago, when the county mandate was still in place, about half of the people in Sacrament wore masks, and the other half did not, and there was almost zero contention about this situation. One of the reasons I love living here is that most people are truly tolerant and do not feel a need to boss other people around.
On the internet, however, not so much. I get hate mail all the time claiming I am “going against the Brethren” by writing that almost all masks are and always have been useless against viruses. Sorry, the uselessness of most masks is simply a fact (strangely accepted by almost everybody now), and I prefer to live in the world of reality, not the cult world that others have created.
So, as I said, until recently masks were “mandatory” in our ward because of local county guidance, but only half of the people wore them. And now that masks are no longer mandatory, but are “highly recommended,” nobody wears them. So, it appears that at least where I live all of the Church members are “going against the Brethren” by following the science, rather than the mask cult.
(This should be obvious, but I will write it anyway: if you are immunocompromised and wear a mask, you are not part of the cult. If you are perfectly healthy and still wear a mask because of COVID, you really should reconsider because it is not good for your long-term mental and physical health. But at end the end of the day, your wearing a mask doesn’t hurt me, so do what you want. But if you feel other people around you should be forced by government to wear a mask, yes, you are part of the cult and need to reassess your life).
Here is the reality: the Church only asked us to wear masks for two reasons: 1)because governments insisted on masks and 2)many people were afraid, and the Church was encouraging kindness by asking people to wear masks around people who are afraid. So what has changed? The government guidance, that is what.
The primary reason that no Latter-day Saints should have any anger towards the Church’s actions during the pandemic is that the Church was held hostage by thousands of tyrannical governments around the world anxious for any excuse to shut down worship services. If somebody is held hostage by a kidnapper, you don’t blame the victim, you blame the kidnapper. It was the governments doing the evil, not the Church.
Does anybody remember that the churches were among the first institutions to be shut down in March and April 2020, while pot dispensaries, liquor stores and bars were all considered “essential?” Our worship services were shut down for two months, and we could only go back under strict rules including massive chemical cleaning (the science clearly showed that COVID was not spread on surfaces, but again the science didn’t matter), distancing and masking. No singing was allowed. There is no doubt that many government rules seem to be inspired by Satan and are pure evil.
I don’t blame the Brethren for doing what they needed to do to keep chapels and temples open. I don’t blame individual members doing what they needed to do to go to Church and take the Sacrament. But I do blame individual members who joined the cult and gleefully came up with excuses to boss other people around and support the government tyranny taking place all around us. I blame anybody who ever yelled at another person to “mask up” or tried to bully other people minding their own business. This was a test, fellow Saints, and if you supported the government actions that limited other peoples’ freedom, you failed the test. You should be ashamed.
Take that shame and learn from it. For the next government “emergency,” (and there will be others) always stand up for individual liberty and true tolerance. If you find yourself supporting rules controlling the actions of others, rather than supporting their free will, you should stop and realize you are on the wrong side. It’s not that difficult. As I said, almost everybody in our stake in Colorado was on the right side during the pandemic. But the stories I have heard from other wards and stakes indicate there were many, many people who failed during the pandemic. Wheat and tares, my friends, wheat and tares.
One of the difficulties of the mask, is even as we understand it’s useless, it has become a sign of obedience and concern for others. Similar with the vaccine. The vaccine was perhaps always of questionable efficacy as an actual public policy to prevent the spread of infectuous disease, but especially now that the variant it allegedly protected against isn’t around, the vax is shown to be of no or even negative efficacy against spread — the entire legal premise for vaccine mandates to begin with.
So we have stalwarts clinging to at best questionable tactical advice that the situation doesn’t even warrant anymore.
The truth is, if you care about stopping covid spread, boosting immune health via diet and exercise and vitD is more effective than a vaccine or mask. And we’ve had plenty of time to achieve that in the last 2 years.
But instead, we focus on signs and symbols.
Sute, yes, the mask is a sign of obedience and ideological alignment and “concern” for others, but until now such signs were always voluntary, not mandatory. I am not concerned with fashion trends, and I don’t care, for example, about MAGA hats because nobody ever forced me to wear one. But I do care about me and my kids being forced to wear something on my face that is nothing more than a talisman or amulet for the superstitious.
Masks do not protect you from other people’s spit, that often carry virus and bacteria, sometimes COVID, from going into your lungs, but prevents the distance your oral mucous and saliva can travel, when you wear even just a cloth mask- stops the distance of your spit traveling, very far, when you talk and cough (coughs go about 20 feet, not six, but with masks six feet is reasonable).
Masks protect the spreader from spreading, and you better be happy your surgeon wears one when he wears a good N95 as he operates on you, as your internal organs are supposed to be sterile, and any bit of bacteria will cause a major post op infection! Thus, they are NOT USELESS AT ALL, but if you do not wear a mask and your grandma does and you have non-symptomatic COVID, that’s how Grandma got COVID, and you better bet your bottom if you’d all worn a mask, Grandma would not have gotten COVID.
The science has not changed. They always knew simple masks do not themselves protect you, but they protect others FROM YOU. I actually told people around me that they needed masks, before there was even a hint of a mask mandate and the word was that it was not airborne, and I told my work station that was a lie and it was a lie, they admitted THAT lie a week later and everyone got masks and soon everyone had to have one. Forcing people to do things even when they are good, make them resent you and rebel, they should not have lied and should not have forced and the prophet never forced, but I have seen people TRYING to cause contention at Church, I have been mocked for wearing a mask, seen people not wearing one coughing directly on others, there is a A LOT Of contention over this issue, and clearly a LOT of ignorance.
Again, science did not change, they always knew a simple mask was not real protection from someone NOT wearing a mask, coughing and whatnot, but hazmat suits are quite expensive, even for staff at hospitals to wear. This pandemic is real.
Debi, most of your comment above is simply incorrect, but your misconceptions are very common, so I will try to help you understand your errors.
“Masks do not protect you from other people’s spit, that often carry virus and bacteria, sometimes COVID, from going into your lungs, but prevents the distance your oral mucous and saliva can travel, when you wear even just a cloth mask- stops the distance of your spit traveling, very far, when you talk and cough (coughs go about 20 feet, not six, but with masks six feet is reasonable).”
The truth is there is simply no scientific proof of this. Here is a very extensive study looking at the science, and the truth is that there is still so much that is unknown about transmission:
There have been dozens of studies showing that cloth masks are useless at preventing the spread of aerosols, which are certainly a primary cause of transmission:
Meanwhile, there is simply no proof that areas where most people don’t wear masks (for example, Florida, Texas, Sweden, Nicaragua, Haiti) are any more likely to have COVID transmission than places where almost everybody wears masks (large U.S. cities or even smaller cities like Boulder near where I live).
To sum up: there is simply no scientific proof of your statement.
“Masks protect the spreader from spreading, and you better be happy your surgeon wears one when he wears a good N95 as he operates on you, as your internal organs are supposed to be sterile, and any bit of bacteria will cause a major post op infection! Thus, they are NOT USELESS AT ALL, but if you do not wear a mask and your grandma does and you have non-symptomatic COVID, that’s how Grandma got COVID, and you better bet your bottom if you’d all worn a mask, Grandma would not have gotten COVID.”
Surgical masks are used to prevent a surgeon from coughing into an open wound, which is an entirely different proposition than two people talking to each other across a table or two people sitting a row from each other in church. Most surgical masks are FITTED and are worn for short periods of time and then changed regularly. This is a completely different situation than putting on the same mask you wear to work all week as you head to church, which is, let’s face it, what almost everybody does when wearing a mask to church.
There is simply no scientific evidence, absolutely none, that you not wearing a mask around your grandma will cause her to get COVID. What kind of mask is your grandma wearing? If it is a cloth mask, which is what 99 percent of people wear, the mask is as useless as a chain link fence trying to keep out mosquitoes. If you are both wearing cloth masks, the same rules apply. If your grandma is wearing a fitted N95 mask, it might provide a slightly improved amount of protection, but she would need to change it regularly, and it would affect her breathing, and given how many seniors have respiratory problems, the mask might be significantly more dangerous to her than COVID. If you are visiting your grandma at the nursing home, and you suspect you might have been exposed to COVID, you probably shouldn’t go. But wearing a fitted N95 mask that has never been used before might provide a very small amount of protection, but the evidence even indicates that these masks don’t work that well.
But of course we are talking about you and grandma at church, and the evidence is still the same, ie, masks really don’t make a difference in preventing transmission of the SARS-COV-2 virus.
“The science has not changed. They always knew simple masks do not themselves protect you, but they protect others FROM YOU.”
Again, there is no scientific evidence of this. I am sorry to burst your bubble, but it is the truth. And when you consider all of the negative side effects of masks, the evidence indicates masks do much more harm than good.
“This pandemic is real.”
This is an unintentionally hilarious thing to write. Who said the pandemic is not real? Yes, there is a virus called SARS-Cov-2, just like there was a virus called SARS-Cov-1 and just like there have been many other viruses. But this was the only pandemic that involved a massive overreaction on the part of the media and the medical establishment, and if you follow the news you will see the talking heads admitting that again and again in nearly every news story these days. The sad thing is that so many people accepted the fear porn without doing any actual research, and the result, as I show above, was a lot of unscientific nonsense.
Debi and others, if you don’t want to read all of the studies I link above, this story is a good summary of my comment #4 above.
I’ve heard that another reason surgeons wear masks is to protect themselves from body fluids spurting up from the open surgical sites into their faces. Makes sense to me.
I haven’t worn a mask to church (or anywhere else) since I recovered from covid. I now have natural immunity, and the MN Dept of Health declared that I can’t infect anybody else, so no more masks for me. Many at our branch still wear them, but do so in so sloppy a way that their efforts seem useless and silly.
I also live in Colorado. There are a few in my ward that are still wearing masks: the bishopric and their spouse/families, and a few other families. The bishop’s wife specifically told me that they were told to wear them as an example to others, and she and her husband are consistent in doing so, which I respect. But, I am bothered by other members who on occasion choose to wear a mask at church, but at other times during church will take them off, which appears to me that they are conflicted as they want to follow the First Presidency, but then take it off when convenient for them. I stopped wearing a mask last May and was the first in my ward to do so and I’ve not worn one since then. It was difficult at first, but I have a great Ward, no one said anything. There was an incident today in which a member of the Ward Council said that some in the ward would need a commandment from the First Presidency to take the masks off at church. I was concerned when the First Presidency told the members to wear masks at church if unable to socially distance, that then members would then be needed to be told when to take them off. I wonder if the First Presidency will make a statement letting the members know it is okay to take them off, that they have free agency, etc. ?? It appears some need to be commanded in all things…..
Jeri, exactly. It seems obvious to me that the FP statement was intended, as I say above, to 1)deal with government mandates and 2)deal with situations where people may be afraid of COVID for one reason or another. In the case of 1), the mandate has ended in my county, use your brain and realize you don’t need to wear a mask anymore (which as I say everybody in my ward did) and 2)obviously if you are dealing with people who have fears, try to be as kind as possible. One of the people I minister to is immunocompromised and I always wear a mask when visiting him, and he is always grateful. But of course there were members who would wear a mask to Sacrament but not to the ward social just a few days later. The whole thing was such ridiculous theater. But, to repeat what I have written many, many times, I don’t blame the Brethren or the members — I blame the many tyrannical governments that have imposed these ridiculous rules. There is a simple rule that all should have abided by from the beginning: don’t force people to do things, and everything will be OK.
Not that the mask requirement was ever about science, but this just released study shows that 70 percent of masks have fungus. Gross!
“Out of 50 masks, fungal contamination was seen in 35/50 (70%) masks, with Aspergillus sp. being isolated from 26/50 (52%) masks and Mucorales being isolated from 9/50 (18%) of the masks. Aspergillus niger, Rhizopus a rrhizus and Syncephalastrum sp. were the most common species isolated.”
I’m bothered by the concept of adopting a public symbol, which you know is ineffective, which you disagree with, which you believe is being manipulated to divide us, which is also causing negative effects, socially and mentally; all because you want to appear obedient.
We are entering very dangerous territory when we adopt lies so easily, or even what we believe is a lie (if the truth is ambiguous). There are pathologies on many levels being cemented by this behavior.
Without a doubt, many negative future social interactions, on a personal and mass scale will be shaped by this in ways that we won’t be able to recognize, but the problem is already here.
What happens when you convince the entire world their neighbors face and breathe is a deadly threat to be covered? I know too many people who go through the theater of putting on a mask to walk across a parking lot and table, to take it off again when sitting and *they don’t feel safe* unless they do that. Its not scientific, its obsessive compulsive, hypochondriac behavior. Placebo effects themselves are real, aside from the obvious psychological damage inflicted by the widespread adoption of this pathology, there’s actual real potential for people to will themselves sick.
Sadly, as much as I love the brethren, I feel this aspect is completely ignored in their pragmatic advice to mask up. We are not mere machines. Our culture has been shaped by this and its not at all friendly love your neighbor and wear a mask stuff. If it were, we’d see more christlike behavior through this mask situation. That’s exactly the opposite of what we are seeing.
I do accept that the brethren are constrained by governments and guidelines and want to prioritize keeping temples and churches open. So perhaps this is the lesser of two evils. But that’s not how its being promoted. Its being promoted as effective concern that has no externalities. That is not true.
Sute, you make good points, but I return to the reality that if the Church had adopted an anti-mask and/or anti-vax position they likely would have faced eviction from countries like Australia, NZ, Germany, Austria and maybe even Canada with Trudeau becoming increasingly insane lately. Can you imagine how much joy MSNBC or CNN would have to be able to report that the “right-wing LDS church was expelled from Germany yesterday because they refuse to recommend that members wear masks and be vaccinated?” There was a reason for the Church to adopt the position it did, even if we don’t see it right now.
If I remember correctly, back in spring 2020 Elder Bednar spoke in defense of religious freedom. He gave no “orders” to members to protest for those inalienable rights, but he publicly defended the principle and criticized the government closure of churches.
I have no idea if those statements were scrutinized by foreign leaders. I know in the USA those statements are seen as perfectly legitimate. A politician may disagree with the application of the principle but there is no basis for alarm for the expression, especially since church leaders showed no inclination of being confrontational.
Later in 2020 I believe the church’s Utah regional authorities became outspoken to members in Utah about supporting masking. I don’t recall there being any association with this public position in Utah and church affairs in other countries. And why would there be? I can attest that on the east coast of the USA the Utah mask “controversies” didn’t register on our radar, even among church members.
My point is that while it is reasonable to believe the First Presidency would be respectful of Covid attitudes in other countries, it doesn’t justify them being so monotone in their Covid statements. Even if the First Presidency legitimately fears the virus – and they have acted consistent in this regard – a message of fear and constraint is inconsistent with a gospel of Faith and the belief in a God of Miracles.
I agree with Sute who wrote “We are entering very dangerous territory when we adopt lies so easily, or even what we believe is a lie (if the truth is ambiguous). There are pathologies on many levels being cemented by this behavior.”
As a people and a church we will be dealing for years with the emotional and spiritual damage created by the RESPONSE to Covid. It could have been different. It should have been different.
Most church leaders are members of the elite class in society. God is no respecter of persons, but people are, which means that it is necessary that church leaders have wide-based credibility.
Just like Joseph Smith was no exception to the banking crisis in his time, church leaders can’t escape the collapse of public trust in the elite class of society. But the problem is not the church leaders. The problem has always been that people want king-type leaders to take responsibility for problems. And no matter how many times church leaders have spoken against this mentality, people get scared and fall right back into it.
God bless our church leaders. May anyone who suffers from any perceived misjudgment of any leader strive to acknowledge their own part in any consequent mischief.
From Elder Christofferson in 2014:
“His companion agrees, “Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know enough, if we know we are the king’s subjects: if his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.”
Williams adds, “If the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make.”
Not surprisingly, King Henry disagrees. “Every subject’s duty is the king’s; but every subject’s soul is his own.””
Our state and county dropped the mask mandate recently.
Our bishop sent out an email saying our area presidency still wants everyone wearing masks to church, citing the First Presidency directive. We had 80% or compliance last Sunday. Without the directive, it would have been 20% masked.
Pete, I am going to write something controversial, but I nevertheless believe it to be true: the 20 percent are the ones who are going to bring freedom to the other 80 percent. These mask mandates are coming from government, not the Brethren. There have been many other pandemics over the last 60 years, and we have never been asked by the Brethren to wear masks. The difference for the COVID response was purely because of government tyranny. The Brethren want people to comply with local government mandates, which is fine. We are generally a law-abiding people. But every thinking person knows that there will be times when laws are not justified and the moral thing to do is to peacefully resist these laws. We can look to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s as a clear example. Church leaders were mostly silent about the civil rights movement in the South during the 1950s and 1960s because at that time we had very few members in the South. But if you were a member of the Church and peacefully resisted the tyrannical segregation laws in the South in the 1950s and 1960s, would you have been on the correct side morally, yes or no? Left-wingers and other COVID cultists will claim the comparison is offensive, etc, etc. That is because they are just like the Southern segregationists of that time, wedded to an ideology of force and panic that, with the passage of time, will be seen as increasingly evil and irrational. If you are paying attention to the media, we are already seeing that, with many mainstream sources already back-tracking on mask mandates and other controls.
So, in our ward in Colorado we had masks from May 2020 until the fall of 2020, and almost everybody stopped wearing them until August 2021 and the FP statement on masks and vaccines. And right after that statement, 90 percent of people started wearing masks, but 10 percent stubbornly refused. A key moment was in September 2021 when our local sheriff said he would not enforce the mask mandate because it was a waste of law enforcement’s time. A few more people stopped wearing masks to church. By early February it was down to half of the people wearing masks and half not (even though there was supposedly a mask mandate in effect). The stake presidency saw that at least half of the members were not wearing masks. I don’t think it is coincidental that when the mask mandate ended in our county the stake presidency said masks were no longer required, and as I say nobody wears masks at church anymore.
It was the people resisting the mandate who, in my opinion, convinced the stake presidency not to enforce mask wearing. (And to be fair, the local sheriff’s announcement that he would not enforce the mandate probably helped). These actions of peaceful resistance really did make a difference.
My apologies if my replies are annoying Geoff. I’d also add that we’ve also never had a heart surgeon as the President with another heart surgeon as an Apostle. Its not much of an assumption to guess that the quorum defers to their judgment on the mask issue. I’d assume the flippant remark often made that they wore masks all the time as surgeons is as much a rationale for masks not being a burden as any other calculations (and no doubt great weight was given to government “experts”, better safe than sorry, and let’s do what we can to keep functioning)
In France, the courts literally called wearing a religious face covering in society anti-social, anti-human, and a symbolic act of violence that erases the personhood of the one who wears it and further that it even causes harm to those who do not wear it by the sight reminding them of tragedies suffered in the past.
There is no doubt some hyperbole in that. And no doubt some truth too. The last thing we need, more than any potential marginal viral benefit (hint there’s none, it’s still spreading everywhere until it spreads no further, masked or not!!), is degradation of the regard we have for the humanity of each other.
I submit that in no way has masking at all proved to increase concern for each others humanity. The exact opposite is proved and tragically being enforced.
Just as an anecdote, the *maybe* 25% of my YSA ward that was wearing masks in church dropped to 10% or less after the second counselor read a letter from the First Presidency rescinding mandated mask wearing today. There was a sternly-worded warning to respect others’ decisions, which, to the best of my knowledge, has been the case since they let us start meeting again in 2020. In other words, not much changed.
That announcement was not read at Sacrament meeting at my ward today, probably because our stake has already stopped the mask mandate in response to local conditions.
So, for the record, my take on this issue has been completely vindicated. I say this as somebody who was insulted personally and called an apostate by my own co-bloggers because I simply pointed out the truth about most masks, that they do nothing to stop viruses. The Church went along with a mask mandate for two reasons: 1)most importantly, local governments imposed the mandates, and the Church believes in following local laws and 2)out of kindness to those who are fearful and may be at the highest risk. (This second reason is, by the way, why the Church still asks people to wear masks at the temple, but I will point out that I went to the temple yesterday, and the mask wearing enforcement was pretty lax).
If the Church position was that the masks actually worked, ie, that they stopped viruses, the Church would continue to insist on mask wearing. But of course the masks were never about health, they were about governments controlling people and ginning up fear. So, I repeat, I was correct on this issue from the beginning, but of course the people who accused me of being an apostate have no integrity, so I do not expect an apology from them, even though it would be good for their souls to do so.
Here is the Church announcement:
“The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent the following letter to leaders worldwide updating guidelines regarding COVID-19.
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
We are grateful that the Lord has heard the prayers of so many and provided the direction that has allowed us to navigate the global COVID-19 pandemic which, in some areas of the world, continues. As governments begin to modify the requirements for travel, masks, and other protective measures, we offer the following direction.
We are now encouraging Area Presidencies, in consultation with stake presidencies, to determine on a local basis whether masks should be worn or other precautions should be observed in the various Church meetings and activities. In doing so, local leaders should consider the guidance of local health and government officials and local customs and conditions.
For the time being, masks will still be required in temples, where so many who attend are part of an elderly, more vulnerable population and where our desire is to keep temples open and to have as many as possible participate.
We thank you for your faithfulness in heeding the counsel provided by Church leaders and pray the Lord’s continued blessings upon you.
Russell M. Nelson
Dallin H. Oaks
Henry B. Eyring”