My local lockdown rules are (approximately) the following: you cannot meet indoors anyone who has not tested negative for COVID-19 recently AND they have been isolating, and you can only get a test if you have symptoms. So if you're lucky enough to be sick, and even luckier that it's not the pandemic, you might be able to meet, in groups of no more than 5, to celebrate Thanksgiving.
But church services can have up to 200 people indoors so long as they wear masks.
I was walking around this morning, and asked (from about 50 feet away, because it's a relatively rural place and sidewalks aren't right up against buildings), why some LDS Church-goers weren't meeting outside, in the large empty private grassy area behind their church.
They said it was because it was a bit chilly. So they met indoors.
I was going on an hour+ long walk in my shorts, said so, and continued walking.
I have long championed Mormons as being perhaps the most attainable model for how Americans ought to be. They used to do ads, if I recall, just asking people to be nice. They wanted to be moral leaders. They wanted communities to be better. This moment has put that sentiment to the stress more than any other in my life.
People are saying goodbye to their dying grandparents over Zoom calls, and their response was, essentially, suck it, the game was played, we're the winners and you're the losers, we can do whatever we want and you don't even get Thanksgiving.
And I try to be honest, so I must tell you that I hate them, I hate them so strongly I am ashamed of my hatred, and yet it burns through me so much that it overcomes my shame. Those two young men inspired in me a truer fury than I could have imagined was possible for a stranger.
They are not emblematic of their whole religion. But leaders decided to meet indoors, even when perfectly suitable outdoor spaces exist. While not a generalizable concern, it is not isolated. It is not just about them.
I will never get an apology. Neither will the people their risky behavior kills, which will undoubtably be some people, at the scale their church operates at.
This whole year has been a tremendous burden, for everyone. I had to sacrifice many of the meaningful choices in my life, and now cannot even escape the burden through individual responsibility or heroic efforts. We all did what we could, and we're all trapped in this nightmare created by recklessness. Engaging in risky behavior, just because you can, for no reason at all, makes this longer and worse than it has to be. It's more dangerous now than ever before, in America (and locally as well).
It makes me sick to my stomach to see how degraded one of America's most important religious traditions is.