1281: The Mormon Church’s Inadequate Response to COVID-19 / the Coronavirus
March 17, 2020
I am currently being flooded by parents and family members of Mormon missionaries, elderly senior missionaries, patriarchs, temple workers, etc. about the Mormon church’s tragically inadequate response to the COVID-19 / Coronavirus outbreak. It appears as though many church leaders, mission presidents, and missionaries are seeing the Corona virus pandemic as an opportunity to corner people in their homes, with hopes of spreading the gospel. It has also come to my attention that Mormon church patriarchs and temple workers (most of whom also fit into the high risk category) are still being asked to travel from home to home to give patriarchal blessings, or to show up at the temples.
Aside from the obvious risks to the missionaries (especially senior missionaries), patriarchs, and temple workers, these good people are also putting at risk the lives of the potential investigators and/or other families by becoming carriers to those who are more vulnerable. Below are examples sent to me by various Mormons around the globe:
“Saw a note from a missionary in Slovenia (next to Italy). They have higher cases per capita than Italy and huge doubling rate, but still knocking doors. And people are yelling at them for knocking doors. But God has asked them to …”
“Yep I live in WA and they showed up at our house last night and said they’re actually having great success knocking on doors because people are home. 😳😷”
“I just heard from my nephew in Hungary. The infection rate there is low, but they are still doing the same things day to day. Sunday, they went to four small gatherings of members to hold a mini sacrament meeting. That doesn’t seem safe! The thing that really gets me is that my sister and brother-in-law had to send extra $ so they could stock up on a few weeks of groceries “just in case”. I can’t believe the church is not recommending and funding that!”
“It’s true. My friend in Washington state had missionaries knock on her door yesterday. She was horrified, as am I.”
“Yes, it’s true. We had a pair of male missionaries knocking on doors in our neighborhood yesterday. We are near Denver, CO.”
“My son in Brazil was told to buy 2 weeks of food, but still proselytizing. His mission President annoys me to death because he never provides any info to parents”
“They were recorded knocking on my sisters door last night.”
“My nephew in the Montana mission is still allowed to go door-to-door 😬”
“Yep got a niece in Colorado still out there going door to door.”
“Saw them today in Spanish Fork. Twice.”
“My sister in Wisconsin just had the missionaries over for dinner. 🤦♀️ So much for social distancing.”
“Saw them today in Sandy out.”
“We saw some in our neighborhood yesterday.” (Seattle area)
“My friend in Mesa AZ said they stopped by today”
“Hi John! It’s not just the missionaries they have out there, the church is still putting the highest risk category, the elderly, at additional risk. My parents are temple workers, their schedule hasn’t changed at all since all this started, in fact, they were commenting that they’re even more busy. The temples (at least theirs) has limited things to living ordinances/weddings, but most temple workers (or all?) are the age group that is at highest risk, not to mention all the touching that goes on in a temple and getting close and personal “through the veil” (which you can’t get though without personal contact/handshakes). It’s just maddening! My dad is “completely unworried” since he’s in the temple and thinks he’ll be protected.
“Hi John. Thought you might find this interesting. My father (over 60) is a Patriarch. The church is still having him give blessings on a regular basis. The kids and their parents are coming into my parents house for the blessing. My mom’s response, “the kids still need their blessings before their missions!” Hooray for social distancing!”
“Hi John! My son is in Brazil. I wrote to the mission president and asked how they planned to ensure the safety of my son regarding food, water, heat of apartment etc if quarantined. I am more concerned about civil unrest and lack of necessities after seeing our country wiped out of the basics the past few weeks. It is so hot there and people have quit answering doors or being in the streets due to Covid-19 fears, and yet my son has been told to continue proselytizing as usual. Finally, as of yesterday and perhaps because of my letter, they have been asked to have food on hand if they quarantine. I feel so helpless after the Italy fiasco where they moved everyone but left the boys behind. Are they not bringing our missionaries home so they can leave a foot in the door for future missions to stay open. Beyond concerned. Wish I could start the hashtag #bringourmissionaries home”
“Hey! Just saw your recent post. My son is in Medford, Oregon, been out about 6 months. He has a compromised immune system. We’ve been so concerned. We received an email this morning from the mission president saying they’re not supposed to shake hands or hug, but to otherwise continue business as usual. They had sacrament meeting with their zone yesterday, and went to a member’s house with 18 other people to spend some sabbath time. We are so uncomfortable with “business as usual.” Talked to our son today and he is concerned also.”
Hey John, I thought I’d send a private message rather than commenting on your live video. My sister in-law works for the church at Beehive Clothing where they make garments. People are in very close proximity, working in teams of 5 or more in a big factory, but they’re still being asked to come in to work as usual.”
“My nephew and his fiancée just decided to move up their wedding 3 months to this weekend to get into the temple before it closes. And they’re still having a reception! Why are they doing such a drastic thing? Because they want to have sex of course and don’t want to wait. So they’re literally risking people’s lives so they can have sex.”
“Also Deseret Industries is still open. Still accepting donations. Still “training” workers. Close DI! Don’t accept donations!!!”
“My [parent] works for Beehive Clothing, where they sew garments. They are not shutting down either, still offering daily overtime in fact. My [parent] doesn’t want to use [parent] PTO and not go in, as they only get so much. And sick days are only for well, when they’re sick. [parent] is over XX and in a higher risk category.”
“My [parent] works at beehive clothing and they aren’t shutting down. Not only due hundreds of people work there but they make them work in clusters. So everyone is standing up the full 8hr shift (people will get mad if you go to the bathroom) and rotate on different machines. They only get paid what they make so no one is cleaning the machines after each use. My [parent] also asked if they could provide them with cleaning wipes or anything to help sanitize and was told no. One day I would love to expose how awful beehive treats their employees that make their holy underwear. I wish I could put them now but [parent] needs this job. I just wish they would treat them better when my [parent] has worked there for over XX years and wasn’t allowed to sit down to sew anymore. [parent] has acquired many health problems because of this job and they refuse to pay for any of [parent’s] medical bills.”
A recent letter from the Mexico City Northwest mission president. Mentions NOTHING about the risk of missionaries becoming carriers. Also, the reason reported cases are low in the developing world is because many developing countries ARE NOT TESTING.
“Dear Parents of the Mexico City Northwest Mission, We wanted to touch base with all of you and let you know that all the missionaries in the Mexico City Northwest Mission are doing wonderufully well. Spirits are high and according to the Mexico Area Presidency and missionary department, we are business as usual unless we hear otherwise. Mexico has very few reported cases of COVID-19 and we are not seeing the panic that we have witnessed in other parts of the world.
Nevertheless, given the rapid and somewhat unpredictable spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Church’s recent communications about precautionary measures being taken to prevent its further spread, we would like to share with you some of the precautions being taken to protect the missionaries (your sons and daughters) in our mission. We spent the entire day yesterday personally visiting 5 of our 8 zones (the 3 remaining zones we will visit today). We held a special meeting with each zone where we discussed the guidance we have received from the Area Presidency, went over preventative health tips, and discussed the food storage plan.
We also spent time discussing what their Sunday activities should look like. At the end, we allowed time for the missionaries to ask any questions they might have regarding the current situation here in Mexico City with hopes that we might calm any fears or clear up any misconceptions the missionaries might have.
Just so you are aware, we have asked all our missionaries to have a one week supply of food, water, and basic/needed medications in all missionary apartments, should the spread of infection and related anxiety in the general population make such things more difficult to obtain. They were all instructed to have that supply of food no later than this evening.
With no church meetings being held on Sunday for the next few weeks, we have asked our missionaries to study the Come, Follow Me lessons as a companionship every Sunday morning. After they have done their own Come, Follow Me study, they are to go out and have Come, Follow Me lessons and discussions with inactive members and investigators. There will likely also be mini-sacrament meetings in member homes, as suggested by the missionary department, allowing them to partake of the sacrament and bring small groups of investigators to those meetings.
Our Area Presidency and Area Medical professionals are actively monitoring the situation as it unfolds in Mexico. For now, there is a very low risk of infection throughout our region of Mexico, and fortunately, throughout all of Latin America, the disease burden remains very low.
As you may have read, global health organizations report that the majority of deaths are occurring in the elderly. The good news is that our missionaries are young, healthy and they have lower risk for infection, respiratory complications, serious illness, and symptoms, should they contract the virus. When you speak with them on preparation day, you can remind them of the importance of following the counsel received and avoiding infection through good nutrition, hydration, and careful hygiene habits – such as washing hands often, carrying hand sanitizer that is alcohol-based in their backpacks, and avoiding shaking hands and touching their faces during the coming weeks.
Finally, your messages of faith and calm during this time will assist all missionaries to maintain their confidence and avoid unnecessary anxiety and undue panic during these times of uncertainty and transition. Thank you for your assistance and support of your missionary and the work of the Lord. We are being blessed and the work is advancing at an accelerated pace.
Warm regards, President and and Hermana Thomas”
The recent press release from the Mormon church (mentions nothing about quarantining missionaries):
“Sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ remains a sacred priority for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, even in the current circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to monitor the spread of this condition and its impact on missionaries worldwide. We take very seriously the health and safety of our missionaries and of those they teach. We are adapting to constantly changing conditions.
Missionaries will continue to be called to serve and assigned to labor in missions worldwide. Missionary recommendations will continue to be received, and missionary assignments for worldwide service will continue to be made.
In addition, Church leaders are implementing some temporary adjustments to missionary service. Out of an abundance of caution, these changes include:
Young missionaries with health issues and senior missionaries may be released from service.
Missionaries who begin their service and are unable to travel to their assigned mission may be temporarily reassigned to another mission.
To adjust for rapidly changing conditions, young missionary elders currently serving in missions within the United States and Canada who would complete their mission on or before September 1, 2020, may be released after they have served for 21 months.
Some missionaries may be temporarily reassigned.
Young missionaries needing to work primarily from their apartments will continue teaching using technology, studying the scriptures and Preach My Gospel, language learning, family history, online community service and other activities as identified by the mission president. In addition, missionaries are encouraged to stay in contact with their families frequently and to take opportunities to leave their apartments for periods of exercise and fresh air, while observing wise guidelines for personal contact.
Church leaders will continue to monitor conditions and make further adjustments as needed. As a Church, we express our love and appreciation for all missionaries as they strive to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and share His love wherever they serve.
View this article to see all Church updates related to COVID-19. It will be updated as new changes are announced”