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 keeping with a letter sent by the church’s top leaders to native church leaders around the globe on Wednesday.
“We wish to do every thing attainable 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 “These security protocols are non permanent, based mostly on Covid-19 circumstances, and will probably be rescinded as quickly as circumstances allow.”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 called Mormons. He has repeatedly urged the church’s 16.6 million members around the globe to put on masks and get vaccinated. In an August letter, he wrote that the accredited vaccines have been protected and efficient and added: “We are able to win this warfare if everybody will observe the clever and considerate suggestions of medical specialists and authorities leaders.”
There are 167 temples around the globe, in keeping with the church, with dozens extra below building or deliberate. The church closed all of them in March 2020 to assist cease the unfold of the coronavirus, and commenced reopening them in phases in Might of that yr.
Temples should not utilized by Latter-day Saints for Sunday worship companies, and in contrast to the church’s extra frequent assembly homes, should not open to most of the people. They’re usually open solely to members who’ve a present “temple advocate,” a card that verifies they imagine within the church’s doctrines and obey sure guidelines similar to tithing and abstaining from alcohol. Members go to temples for a wide range of rituals, together with proxy baptisms for the useless.
“Temples are crucial sacred websites in modern Mormonism, so limiting entry to temples to folks carrying masks sends a giant message about how essential 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 more likely to be interpreted as “instruction that’s to not be violated.”
In August, Brigham Younger College in Provo, Utah, announced that college students and employees 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 similar message about the polio vaccine.