In last week’s General Conference, many speakers including the First Presidency spoke of unity, respect for all people, civility and dealing with tribulation, namely the Corona Virus. They especially called for respect for people of color. It is a welcomed admonition since President Hinkley first addressed it in 2006.

There were also calls for exercising our right to vote this November, which is a responsibility of citizenship.

I thought the pandemic would be the one thing that could bring a divided nation together, with all of us fighting to keep the cost in lives down.  But, and here it comes, it has not. 

For some reason, which is a mystery to me, the solution for reducing the death toll and those who contract Covid-19 has been political with reaction and actions are pretty much divided along party lines.  Though, you can’t say that 100 percent of Democrats and 100% of Republicans have taken either side.

There are those among us, who believe the whole pandemic is a hoax. That it has been concocted as a way of ruining our economy and creating havoc in the U.S. The fact is, of this date (October 9,2020), over 7.64 Million have contracted the virus and 213 Thousand have died.  There were people in the highest place if our government calling it a hoax and downplaying the effects on the American people. Even though there was evidence it was going to be bad, steps were not taken to try to stem the spread of the virus.

As we were asked to socially distance, stay at home, close our businesses, cancel large gatherings and events, and wear masks when outside the home, there were those who openly resisted. Even though it was explained that doing these things could save thousands of lives.  As a result, some held gatherings in defiance of mandates from states and cities. Consequently, we saw a number of outbreaks after these gatherings including holiday parties and college events.

But, no one thing was resisted more than the wearing of masks when out in public and when social distancing is not possible.  There are a myriad of reasons given why some could not wear masks. Among them are:

  • They are uncomfortable
  • “I can’t breathe with it on”
  • “I have health reasons why I can’t wear a mask”
  • And finally, “it is my right not wear a mask. They are taking away my freedom.”

There is an old adage that the freedom to swing your arm ends at my nose or you don’t have the freedom to yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater.

These adages, like the wearing of the mask, are not about giving up your freedom, but thinking of others rather than yourselves. A clear application of the golden rule.

Because of some people’s defiance to not wearing the mask in public, places of businesses, states and cities have mandated it. In most cases, if you enter a store without a mask they will offer you one, or ask you to leave and come back wearing one.  But yet, there are still some who resist.  I’ve seen people enter the store wearing a mask and then pull it down while shopping, or not wearing it on their nose, a major source of spreading the virus.

In stark contrast, we have noble and great healthcare workers, who wear a mask all day without complaint.  When I was in the hospital 3 years ago for my stem cell transplant, those entering my room had to wear a gown, mask and gloves to protect me. When I was out of my room, I had to do likewise.

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34–35)

As I stated before, the wearing of the mask has become highly political with some people refusing to wear the mask simply because the leader of their political party mocks those who do wear them. Telling them we should open stores, restaurants, bars and other businesses even if it’s not safe to do so.

I’m afraid some Latter Day Saints fall into this category of non-mask wearing, open up businesses people. It’s not that they are uninformed about the “new” commandment given by the Savior. It’s that they seem more beholden to their political views rather than their Christian obligation of “do unto others…”

I’ve seen a political group in Utah use the Salt Lake Temple in the background of their logo. What they were trying to show was beyond my comprehension.  However, they quickly removed it from their website and advertisement,

As Jana Reiss pointed out in her “Flunking Sainthood” column of August 8, 2020,

“It’s not just the temple appropriation that’s a problem, however; there are at least two other issues.

It used to be acceptable to utilize the church’s name only when referring to the church’s own institutional presence, and using “Mormon” for all things unofficial, ad hoc, and church-adjacent. Now, with Pres. Nelson pivoting toward the use of “Latter-day Saints” for everything, it puts members between a rock and a hard place. According to the church’s handbook, they are forbidden from using the name of the church in reference to anything not sponsored by the church. Fair enough. But in the absence of “Mormon” as an acceptable term for describing unofficial groups that church members may want to be involved in, they have no other option but to break the rule. So “Latter-day Saints for Trump” – or even “Latter-day Saints for Joe,” the lower-key grassroots effort that has done at least one event sponsored by the Democratic candidate – are utilizing part of the name of the church to baptize their chosen political candidates.*

The second, and far more important, issue is with President Trump himself, and the dangers of associating the church with him.”

So in essence, using “Latter-day Saints” in the group name implies some affiliation with the Church where there is none. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declares its neutrality with regard to politics and elections. Although the Church has involved itself in campaigns that it terms, “moral issues, ” they do not endorse any candidate for political office.

Oddly enough, the Latter-day Saint vote is highly coveted by political candidates in states where the concentration of members is the highest.

I wonder where it all ends. Will Latter-day Saints be the example to lead the country back to civility?

“Members of the Lord’s Church should commit “to live righteously and be united as never before. Righteousness and unity are “profoundly significant,” because when people love God with all their hearts and righteously strive to become like Him, there is less strife and contention in society” (Elder Quentin L. Cook, General Conference, October 2020.)

When we return to church as before, will there be less political references and more “love your fellow man” references?

I am hoping so.  I think our nation depends on it.