The Church released the following statement today:
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has shared the following letter with Church leaders around the world.
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Thank you for your patience during restricted temple operations that occurred because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are eager to return the temples to full operation as soon as possible. Now that more people are immunized, we are pleased to announce that temples throughout the world will gradually return to more normal operations, including the elimination of face masks and capacity restrictions.
Based on local circumstances, the return to normal operations for each temple will be made by the temple presidencies and Area Presidencies in consultation with the Temple Department. Temple presidencies are invited to prepare plans to return temples to full capacity.
We are grateful for the sacred work performed in temples. We trust that our members will rejoice in the lessening of restrictions and will increase their commitment to temple and family history work.
Russell M. Nelson
Dallin H. Oaks
Henry B. Eyring
Reminder: “immunized” means people either have natural immunity or have been vaccinated.
“Now that more people are immunized”
True. But sadly not immunized by the vaccine. Immunity came from exposure. The vaccine may have granted some benefits against severe disease in some people (not others). But surely conferred little to no immunity.
Interestingly, the mask rule was not lifted when vaccine rates were high, but only after many millions of vaccinated people had gotten COVID and were actually immune.
At the recent funeral for Sis. Packer, outside photos showed Pres. & Sis. Nelson masked and Pres. Oaks and other apostles unmasked. Is this a reflection of personally held beliefs? Or a calculated move to give support to both sides of the mask issue?
On the latter point, there would be no need for this question if the church leadership spoke plainly about the risks of Covid and the negligible impact of masks and emphasized that health decisions must be personal, and that it is not consistent with the doctrine of Christ for one person to burden another with the demands of their personal beliefs
Disciple, it’s difficult to disagree with your statement which is consistent with medical science and my personal understanding of personal freedom, but I think Church authorities were inspired to know that the mask would become a political issue worldwide for billions of people, and they took the easiest route to get through this pandemic with the least amount of contention. It is difficult to imagine the Church taking a different route, given how politicized this issue was for about two years.
Hopefully we are moving past the pandemic, and never to return for another century! What remains are the “big picture” questions that were raised by how Church leadership reacted. Here are some scatterbrained observations.
(1) A unique aspect to the Church’s response to Covid is the type of member that took offense. The Liberal leaning members saw the church do exactly what they expected of a Social institution. The loyal, “follow authority” members may have had concerns but they embraced the zeal to mask and follow mitigation policies and could rationalize they were being good by being obedient. In the New Testament we label these people Pharisees.
It was the loyal, but libertarian minded members who were thrown for a loop. These are members with long experience serving faithfully in the church who, depending on their ward and stake leadership, found themselves on the outside of the church and unwelcome to serve, unless they bowed to the ignorance and lies.
Do the church officers understand the situation they put these members in? Do they have empathy for the member who in sincerity chose to be true to the truth they knew, even if that jeopardized their activity in the church?
(2) The open admonition of being good global citizens raises a serious question: Who is judging? What behaviors and beliefs make one a good global citizen? Are those beliefs consistent with Christian devotion?
(3) Do the leaders of the church consider the Book of Mormon prophecies of our day to be relevant? If not, what do they believe? If so, then what are the secret combinations of our day and what should we be doing to counter them?
(4) Is representing the church to the world the same as representing the doctrine of Christ to the world? If the priority of the church leaders is to represent the church,and promote it as an institution worthy of global respect, then who fills the gap to preach the true doctrine of Christ which, in Jesus’ word’s, will offend and cause the guilty to take the truth to be hard?
Disciple, you wrote:
“Do the church officers understand the situation they put these (libertarian-leaning) members in? Do they have empathy for the member who in sincerity chose to be true to the truth they knew, even if that jeopardized their activity in the church?”
This is what left-wing members of the Church have been saying for decades now. Remember all of those talks by ETB in which he extolled right-wing talking points? How about the talk saying no good member could be a liberal? How about the fact that the Church has never agreed with government-run welfare programs or gay marriage or the transgender movement? The left-wing activists always say they are driving away members from the Church, especially the younger ones. This is not a reason for the Church to change its positions on anything, in my opinion.
2)What makes a good global citizen? I think you raise a very important point, one that will increasingly be tested in the years to come, I predict. I don’t accept that a good global citizens “always follows the rules of government,” and I predict there will come a time when the Church is forced into a position where it calls on people to adopt non-violent disobedience. The Church encouraged non-violent disobedience for decades against anti-polygamy laws. There is a history there.
3)Regarding prophecies and secret combinations, obviously yes. It seems plain to you and me that we are living through a time when the entire system is all about secret combinations, and I believe Church leaders know this. They are walking a tightrope as it appears the entire world is one big secret combination, yet the Gospel must still be preached.
4)Regarding this point, I don’t see any evidence of any separation between Church leaders preaching the Gospel and Church leaders promoting people following local laws so people in many countries and states around the world can preach the Gospel. Did you see that Austria lifted its mask mandate for two weeks and then just re-imposed it? If I were an Austrian, I would be apoplectic, but this is the world the Church must operate in, and it does no good to the overall project of preaching the Gospel in Austria for the Church to disobey local laws, and it could very well mean the Church being shut down in Austria. So I think you and I see this situation differently.
Geoff your points are good, but bring further thoughta.
Can you point to any of Jesus’ life where he pointed to non violent disobedience? It seems like he submitted until the end to very wrong edicts, from walk an extra mile, turn the other cheek, to submitting to the priests to be turned over and judged by them and Rome.
Re: the church teachings on these issues, the church could choose to point to discipleship and following the saviors example by simply saying to submit ourselves to government authority as Jesus did and we will be blessed.
I think that leaves room for principled dissent.where debate is possible, but ultimate compliance with whatever we are required to do.
To my recollection, Jesus avoided conflict with the Roman government. However, Jesus was deliberately confrontational with the Jewish leaders. In particular, he sought out priests and Pharisees and acted and spoke to draw attention to their hypocrisy.
Just one example, Jesus entered a synagogue and initiated the question to the priests: Is it appropriate to heal on the Sabbath? He then proceeded to do the healing. Jesus’ behavior was so incendiary the scripture relates: “the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.” (Mark 3:6)
Later, after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, Peter & John followed Jesus’ example by directly confronting the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem in healing the infirmed and preaching the Gospel. They were arrested multiple times and at least once they escaped from jail. After which they and their fellow Christians rejoiced in their persecution knowing they were worthy to suffer the shame of Christ.
The notion that Christians must follow unjust law and stay silent about any injustice forced upon them is a philosophy of men. A defining aspect of the scriptures are the many stories of individuals telling the prevailing authorities that which they did not want to hear. Some of these, like Daniel and his friends were subject to punishment and by a miracle had their lives preserved. Others, like Abinadi, gave their lives in defense of their testimony of Christ.
I can appreciate the Church, as a public institution, will give overt statements in support of government authority. However, I do not think it is right for the Church to act as an arm of the government in enforcing unjust laws. Not is it right for Church leaders to coerce individuals to act contrary to their conscience.
Standing up to religious authority you view as corrupt, and who should know better is different though. Yes, the religious authority in his time had some civil authority, but I think when we get into accusations of philosophy of men, it’s pretty easy for us to look at what Jesus did with unjust law. Not religious law with civil implications, but rendering unto Caesar, going an additional mile, submitting to unjust judgement, and then forgiving them that did those things. Is that not keeping more true to Jesus’ ministry than arguing and disobeying every injustice you see from government? Surely if we did that, it would be a never ending crusade that could end in one thing and one thing only – force and violence until one side was the victor. And if Jesus chose to be the victor in a physical contest with authority, he could have been. Which in my view would have been a disastrous example for us to follow that would have lead to never ending might-is-right wars. As it is, his example of rejecting cruel religious abuse and turning over tables in the temple has been justify all kinds of responses, probably beyond that which Jesus would prefer.
But why didn’t Jesus follow that example of rejecting religious abuses into the civil realm as well?
I can point to plenty of noble people in scripture and history that stood up to unjust laws and tyrants. Jesus was not one of them — or rather he was, but the way he stood up and triumphed over them was probably the only way to do it. The way of a true disciple does not lead to gratifying mortal success though.
Who do we follow? Daniel or Jesus? Certainly we can learn from Daniel. We can put our faith in God in trust in faithfully keeping the commandments rather than the kings vaccine, err, meat. But a current prophet asked us to put our trust in the kings meat, when the intuition and promptings of many felt that was wrong for them.
Surely Jesus saw plenty of unjust actions going on around him, that our faith said he had power to stop and he didn’t stop. Maybe we can rationalize (not using that term negatively) that Jesus had his own path and we have a different path, and our sacrifice is to bear the punishment of standing up to unjust laws because he already bore the punishment of submitting to unjust laws.
I can articulate and support all of that. But I’m still stuck with the quiet example of Jesus standing mostly in silence before his accusers. He didn’t feel the need to turn the tables on them rhetorically and reveal their many sins and inconsistencies. He saw their judgement as a forgone conclusion and submitted to it.
Likewise, the shutdowns, mask mandates, and vaccines were literally foregone conclusions. At every stage each of these has been shown to be less effective than sold, and the solution has always been to ignore the fact that it didn’t work that well, over emphasize how well it worked, and then call for more of the same.
That being said, I am personally in no hurry to submit to anything not needed. My kids were pulled out of school when they started masking. We are not worried about vaccines as we’ve all had covid, and when expected to mask on an airplane, etc. we do so as expected without complaint.
I feel my actions and perspective is a healthy way to approach the issue. But I do personally struggle with this idea of every type of COVID vaccine, every dosage quantity, in every age group, in every manner of distribution, in every physical condition being a “Godsend”. I really don’t see how that can be remotely true — indeed it’s demonstrably false. But that’s somewhat how it’s being promoted with blanket generalities.
I think your reasoning may not apply because we supposedly have democratic government where the people are to be the rulers. You need to explain why you assume we are ruled by tyrants whether we like it or not. I’m open to the idea, even tempted to believe it. But on the other side, maybe I have a democratic duty to participate in civil disobedience that is a large part of the democratic process.
I’m honestly looking for discussion here since I can see both sides.
The sunday after GenConf, our stake is returning to the 9am, 10:30am, Noon, sac mtg times, with the 1/2 hour over-lap, as it was pre-pandemic.
That’s for the chapels with 3 wards. I’m not sure what the chapels with 2 wards will do.
Bookslinger – we have been doing that since January and with no more streaming options.