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LDS First Presidency issues face mask order for temple workers and patrons

By Genelle Pugmire - | Sep 22, 2021

Photo supplied, Intellectual Reserves

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is requiring all temple workers and patrons to wear face masks.

Concerned about the safety of temple workers and patrons as well as the desire to keep temples open, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a letter to members Wednesday concerning the wearing of face masks.

In part, the letter recognizes the increase in cases of COVID-19 in many areas of the world.

“We want to do everything possible to allow temples to remain open,” the letter states. “Therefore, effective immediately, all temple patrons and workers are asked to wear face masks at all times while in the temple. These safety protocols are temporary, based on COVID-19 conditions, and will be rescinded as soon as circumstances permit.”

The First Presidency, consisting of church President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, Presidents Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring, also continued their encouragement for members to be vaccinated.

“Our urging church members to be vaccinated and to protect themselves and others from the spread of disease has precedent. Prior First Presidencies shared similar messages in 1900 about smallpox and in 1957 regarding polio. Please do all you can to protect yourself and others so the work of the Lord on both sides of the veil can move forward,” the letter said.

Over the past year and a half, church leadership through letters, social media and video presentations have encouraged members of the church to do all they can to limit the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.

As recent as Aug. 12, the First Presidency addressed the issue in a letter to all members of the church. They compared fighting the ravages of the viruses and pandemic to fighting a war.

“We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population,” the August letter said. “To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible. To provide personal protection from such severe infections, we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective. We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders.”

COVID-19 is not the only time the leadership of the church has spoken out about getting vaccinated to protect individuals.

In the Jan. 30, 1957, letter endorsing the fund drive of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, the First Presidency then consisting of President David O. McKay, and Presidents Stephen L. Richards and J. Reuben Clark Jr., also encouraged member to receive the polio vaccine.

“We have no hesitancy in urging all members of the church and other citizens to support the campaign now in progress by giving as generously as each can afford, and by making sure that all members of families, unless exempted on doctors’ orders, receive Salk vaccine inoculation,” that letter said.

On Nov. 17, 1900, Presidents Lorenzo Snow and George Q. Cannon of the Frist Presidency submitted the following to the Deseret Evening News: “To the question of vaccination we have given careful thoughts and consideration[.] … We are aware that there is a difference of opinion in the community as to the merits of this question; and… we have felt reluctant to express ourselves publicly on it. Now, however, we … suggest and recommend that the people generally avail themselves of the opportunity to become vaccinated[.]”

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