Obey your leaders and wear a mask?
On Friday, July 10, 2020 the Utah Area Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encouraged members to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 through the wearing of masks, both indoors and outdoors, and social distancing whenever possible. Elder Craig C. Christensen, and his counselors, Elder Randy D. Funk and Elder Walter F. González, issued this email for members in Utah:
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
We are in the midst of a global pandemic unlike any the world has experienced in more than a century. The effects of this escalating health crisis are being felt everywhere, with incidents of COVID-19 infection rising dramatically especially in the United States, including in Utah. Latter-day Saints are not immune. Just today, more than 800 new infections were reported in our state.
A growing chorus of medical authorities has confirmed that the simple wearing of a face covering when in public and when social distancing is not possible will significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19. This is true both indoors and outdoors.
We note with appreciation the care exhibited by our members in returning to sacrament meetings wearing face masks. Now we ask all Latter-day Saints in the Utah Area to be good citizens by wearing face coverings when in public. Doing so will help promote the health and general welfare of all.
We are most grateful for all you do to minister to one another and to your neighbors. Please join with us now in common purpose for the blessing and benefit of all.
Elder Craig C. Christensen
Elder Randy D. Funk
Elder Walter F. González
As a resident of Utah, I am personally grateful for this counsel from these men. However, I have seen quite a scuttlebutt over social media. I’ve seen comments from those who identify themselves as faithful members saying that these church leaders are in apostasy, that because it wasn’t from the First Presidency they could disregard it, that leaders have been deceived, they have their free agency, and a plethora of out-of-context President Benson quotes to justify not wearing a mask or hearkening to the counsel of their leaders. I don’t know how these members will reconcile answering “yes” in their next temple recommend interviews about sustaining their leaders. I know I’ve been there before.
I was chastised and told to obey my leaders. When I advocated for the constitutional right in my country for those of the same sex to marry, I was told to repent and obey my leaders. When I asked for more ecclesiastical authority as a woman, I was told to know my place and obey my leaders. When I questioned financial transparency, I was told to have faith and obey my leaders. When I was outraged over sexual abuse cover-ups, I was told to shut up and obey my leaders.
When I think of the issues facing church members, being asked to wear masks during a global pandemic is a small ask. Thankfully most of my friends who are still faithful members have expressed that they believe wearing a mask is Christ-like and is showing that they love their neighbors.