All guests and staff in temples operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ought to put on face masks “always” whereas within the temple, in accordance with a letter despatched by the church’s prime leaders to native church leaders world wide on Wednesday.
“We need to do the whole lot doable to permit temples to stay open,” wrote the church’s president, Russell M. Nelson, and his two prime counselors, Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring. “These security protocols are short-term, primarily based on Covid-19 situations, and will likely be rescinded as quickly as circumstances allow.”
Mr. Nelson, 97, is a retired coronary heart surgeon and is revered as a prophet by Latter-day Saints, also referred to as Mormons. He has repeatedly urged the church’s 16.6 million members world wide to put on masks and get vaccinated. In an August letter, he wrote that the accepted vaccines have been protected and efficient and added: “We are able to win this conflict if everybody will observe the smart and considerate suggestions of medical specialists and authorities leaders.”
There are 167 temples world wide, in accordance with the church, with dozens extra below development or deliberate. The church closed all of them in March 2020 to assist cease the unfold of the coronavirus, and started reopening them in phases in Could of that 12 months.
Temples should not utilized by Latter-day Saints for Sunday worship companies, and in contrast to the church’s extra widespread assembly homes, should not open to most of the people. They’re typically open solely to members who’ve a present “temple advocate,” a card that verifies they consider within the church’s doctrines and obey sure guidelines comparable to tithing and abstaining from alcohol. Members go to temples for a wide range of rituals, together with proxy baptisms for the lifeless.
“Temples are an important sacred websites in modern Mormonism, so limiting entry to temples to folks carrying masks sends an enormous message about how vital masks are to the leaders of our church,” mentioned Jana Riess, a senior columnist for Faith Information Service who writes concerning the church.
Though the letter says that the church solely “asks” members to put on masks in temples, Ms. Riess mentioned that it’s prone to be interpreted as “instruction that’s to not be violated.”
In August, Brigham Younger College in Provo, Utah, introduced that college students and workers members could be required to put on masks on campus. The non-public faculty, which is sponsored by the church, additionally urged college students to get vaccinated “in order that fall semester can proceed as deliberate.”
The letter on Wednesday emphasised that there’s ample precedent for the church urging members to guard themselves from the unfold of the illness. In 1900, church leaders urged members to be vaccinated towards smallpox, and in 1957 launched a related message concerning the polio vaccine.