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Question

 

Gramps,

Why do saints not wear masks? I notice they’re discouraged at LDS events and I’ve gotten some very silly explanations.

Ingrid

 

Answer

 

Dear Ingrid,

Your question is an intriguing one. I assume you are talking of wearing masks for Halloween.  I can’t really think of many other practical and legit reason to wear a mask outside of Halloween. If you are asking why we shouldn’t wear a mask because you want to rob a convenience store and remain anonymous then the answer should be obvious.

You are correct, for the most part, Latter-day Saints are discouraged from wearing masks. However, there are exceptions. Wearing a mask for a play like in the Phantom of the Opera would be appropriate. I’m sure there are other options where wearing a mask is appropriate and even necessary. Police officers have to wear certain masks in order to protect themselves, and doctors have to wear them in order to protect their patients.

Every Halloween, in most wards, we get an invitation to partake in Halloween activities like handing out candy or going to a small party at the ward. In all of the activities we are told that we should not wear a mask. The first reason we are counseled not to wear masks is practical. Some masks might be frightening to young children and a ward Halloween party is not the time or the place to upset or frighten them.  Also, by not allowing masks, strangers cannot enter unnoticed, and we are able to look out for one another and our children, thereby maintaining a safer environment.

The second reason is a bit more complicated. Quentin L. Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, related a story he had once with Abraham Foxman, the leader of the anti-defamation league, a group whose purpose is to try and decrease the influence of anti-Semitic groups in our culture. In the meeting, the two men spoke about the KKK-the notorious hate group that terrorized the south for many years. Mr. Foxman made the brilliant point that:

“hiding their identity and wearing a mask enabled them to participate in activities that they would normally have avoided.”

I want you to think about that for a minute. If you are wearing a mask outside of Halloween, a play, etc., why are you wearing it? Are you going to do something that you wouldn’t want others to know you were doing? After all, if you aren’t doing anything wrong, why do you want to hide your true identity? That, I believe is why we are counseled against wearing masks. Wearing a mask and hiding your identity makes it easier to commit immoral acts that you don’t want everyone to see you doing.

In our early Church history, the Prophet Joseph, Emma, and their 11-month-old twins, Joseph and Julia, were in Hiram, Ohio, at the Johnson farm.

 

One Saturday night a group of men with black-painted faces burst through the door and dragged the Prophet outside, where they beat him and threw tar on him and Sidney Rigdon.

“Though the Prophet had lost a tooth, received a severe injury in his side, was missing a patch of hair, and had nitric acid burns, he preached a sermon at the usual Sunday worship service. Among the Saints gathered there were at least four members of the mob.”

 

It is also interesting that those who participated in the Martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum painted their faces in an effort to hide their true identities.  Don’t Wear Masks

Wearing a mask (again, outside of Halloween or a play) can rarely be done for moral reasons. Wearing a mask hides your identity from the world, and if you are worried about people not knowing who you are, it’s not because you are going to volunteer at a soup kitchen, help someone change a tire, or work a service project with the Church. When we hide our identity it’s almost always for an immoral reason.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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