- In the last two weeks, Elder Ballard and BYU-I President Henry Eyring both doubled down on the church's advocacy of following the "the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders"
- Both leaders said we would win the "war" against Covid by following said recommendations, whereas there was no mention whatsoever of Jesus Christ, who has offered to win the war for us.
- Both leaders presented statements with significant errors which do not square with facts and could easily mislead others.
- This has set up a situation where the church's leaders are clearly "Denying the Lord."
- One could even say that by the actions and statements of the Brethren, a new church has formed at "the Altar of Covid," complete with saviors, gospel, temple recommends and more.
- In turning to man instead of God for solutions, leaders have effectively become idolatrous, which always has and always will result in a cursing.
- Contrary to popular belief that the Brethren are simply "urging" members to take the jab, they are allowing local-level leaders to coerce members to get the jab or not allowed to worship inside church buildings (video proof included in blog post).
(Note: Since my last post, I've been wanting to publish something other than the Church and its responses to the Covid issue. However, the situation is such that if I don't address this issue now, this post will lose its timeliness. Maybe we should pray that there's a brief respite in Covid so I can get on to some other juicy insights).
This last week, the church doubled down in encouraging members to trust in the arm of flesh.
First Up: Elder Ballard
In referencing the First Presidency's August 12, 2021 announcement to the world,  Ballard said on January 6th:
"Following the guidelines of the federal and state medical advisers has proven to be a wise thing for members of the Church to do. The Church invites its members to be wise and prudent and do the wise thing for their families." 
(While it is true that church leaders "invite" members to get the jab, as we'll see below, it's doing more than inviting; it's constraining (forcing "by imposed stricture, restriction, or limitation")  -- which is a synonym of compelling or compulsion (see D&C 121:37) - members to take the jab).
The rest of the article on Ballard raises more questions:
- Ballard tells readers to "Just keep smiling" and that "things will be OK."
- How can he pronounce these reassurances when prophecies of the future found in 1 Nephi, 3 Nephi, Mormon, Moroni, Jeremiah, Daniel and Revelations paint a diametrically opposite (a very frightening and violent) picture of the future?
- "We've been dealing with it [the pandemic] wisely."
- Is trusting in the arm of flesh - and encouraging members to do the same - a wise course of action?
- Where in the scriptures do we read that it's OK to trust in the arm of flesh (which includes medical experts and government leaders)?
- Are those scriptures (which instruct us not to truth in the arm of flesh) now invalidated? If so, what else has been invalidated?
- "The Church has not stopped; the Church has gone forward. We've used wisdom and good judgment" and "The Restoration has not stopped. Missionary service has not stopped. The Church hasn't stopped. We're moving forward - all in preparation for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ."
- If the Church really has "gone forward" and is "moving forward", then why does the church's own 2020 statistical report  show that in April 2020, the convert baptismal rate was 0.6% -- the lowest in recorded recent history?
- If the Brethren truly have "keys" of the priesthood, then where are their fruits with respect to the church's first mission - "to proclaim the gospel"? 
- How is this "moving forward"?
- How does this decline in convert baptisms reflect "wisdom and good judgment"?
- Is this what the Savior wants - nearly zero convert baptisms?
- "President Ballard pointed to state and national statistics that indicate vaccines are helping to quell the spread of the virus." How can this be said when:
- Hospital databases show a huge increase in "vaccine"-related injuries. 
- The U.K. is reporting that 4x more "vaxxed" than "unvaxxed" people are dying. 
- Fully "vaccinated" surpass "unvaccinated" in Australian hospitals. 
- Australia now admits Covid "vaccines" are harming people, offers up to $600,000 in compensation for the seriously injured. 
- "All of the Church's general authorities and their wives have chosen to be vaccinated, not only to protect themselves but to protect others."
- This establishes a dichotomy within the church's membership: The "vaxxed" (who "protect themselves" and "protect others") and the "unvaxxed" (who do not). This has been a prime source of frustration to many members, as evidenced in many social media groups.
Ballard's statements may sound optimistic and encouraging, but with a miniscule amount of digging, they don't hold up in light of true facts. What kind of leader encourages others with statements based on outright lies?
Second Up: Pres. Eyring (the other one)
Five days later, BYU-Idaho President Henry J. Eyring doubled down on the "trust in the arm of flesh" rhetoric:
"COVID, it appears, is testing our resolve to follow the guidance of governmental and Church authorities. But, rather than seeing an unfair and perhaps even needless intrusion on our freedom, we can embrace the trials, tests and potential victories to be had." 
He then quoted the First Presidency's August 2021 letter, which states:
"We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population ... We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders."
Three points regarding Eyring's address:
- "the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders" - I have yet to see any recommendations which have been wise, because many of them have changed or been proven wrong during the Covid crisis. If they were truly thoughtful, they would not be unjustifiably shunning alternative treatments (which has led to many lawsuits and even more deaths). Instead, they would be emphasizing boosting the body's God-given natural immune system (which they have publicly neglected and rejected).
- Church leaders have often equated battling the Covid pandemic with a war. Yet in Pres. Kimball's famous June, 1976 Ensign article, "The False Gods We Worship," he states,
"We forget that if we are righteous the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us-and this is the special promise to the inhabitants of the land of the Americas (see 2 Nephi 1:7)-or he will fight our battles for us (Exodus 14:14; D&C 98:37, to name only two references of many). This he is able to do, for as he said at the time of his betrayal, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53.)
What are we to fear when the Lord is with us? Can we not take the Lord at his word and exercise a particle of faith in him?"
- Eyring quoted the First Presidency's announcement:
"We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population."
"Immunization" is the "only" way? The same immunization that's proven ineffective even to those who have received the jab? The same immunization that's caused catastrophic adverse effects among those who received the jab?
The church has never mentioned Matthew 26:53 during the entirety of this pandemic. Nor has it mentioned the power of prayer, the Word of Wisdom and/or the role of faith in healing and preventing disease. In fact, Jesus has been found nowhere in the church's public pronouncements.
Instead, it is now proven that the Church is relying on the mistaken notion that "we can win this war" if "everyone" follows "the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders" (who themselves have never quoted the Lord in their public pronouncements. Ever.) and endorse turning only to what? "Immunizing."
This is called "Denying the Lord" (see the 2 Nephi 28 quote below).
"The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh." 
"It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." 
In fact, not any ordinary men. According to the church, the wars that are to be won over Covid rely not only on mortal men, but men who (as is agreed upon by both sides of the political aisles, and as history amply demonstrates) are very likely prone to self-aggrandizement and corruption (hence the statement "evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days" in the Word of Wisdom). 
Because of this wholesale (and now very deliberate) denial of the Lord, and because there is no mention by the Brethren whatsoever of the power of faith or in the scriptures, I'm concerned - as is Dr. Scott Bradley of freedomsrisingsun.com - of the following (found in the video below, at the 8:25 mark):
"I'm so worried about so many other things one is that central to everything that's happening nowadays is a new god. I'm sorry to say that it's an altar that people have come to worship at called "The Altar of Covid," and the saviors in this new religion have become the physicians, the scientists, the researchers, the politicians and the big pharma companies."
Carried further, I would also add that in this new religion:
- Fear has replaced faith.
- Youth suicides have replaced youth activities.
- Adverse reactions (like death) have replaced healings.
- Loyalty to men has replaced trust in God.
- Cover-ups and redacted public documents have replaced transparency.
- "Vaccine" stations could be considered this new religion's temple.
- "Vaccine" passports are the recommend cards.
- Booster shots the new sacrament.
- The guidance of the CDC as the new gospel and,
- The new garment to prove your devotion? You guessed it: masks.
The Church is Now Worshipping Idols
Pres. Kimball continues in his article, "The False Gods We Worship":
"in all ages when men have fallen under the power of Satan and lost the faith, they have put in its place a hope in the 'arm of flesh' and in 'gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know' (Dan. 5:23)-that is, in idols."
"Whatever thing a man sets his heart and his trust in most is his god; and if his god doesn't also happen to be the true and living God of Israel, that man is laboring in idolatry."
"In spite of our delight in defining ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had-in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people-a condition most repugnant to the Lord."
Pres. Kimball said that in 1976. Here we are 44 years later. Do you think that "we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people" statement still applies? In speaking of our time - right now -- the Lord said in D&C 1:16 (italics added):
"They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall."
The Result of all this Idolatry? Cursing.
There should be nothing safe nor reassuring about trusting in the arm of flesh to "win this war." Without the Lord of Hosts as the church's battle cry, a disastrous outcome is assured.
I find it interesting that the August 19, 2021 letter was only sent out by the First Presidency and not the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (which would have been even more powerful and convincing to church members). This may be because not all of the Twelve concur with the First Presidency's message. One of those may be Elder D. Todd Christofferson. Although I'm not a big fan of his October 2020 General Conference talk "Sustainable Societies", he did have this to say:
"I think it safe to say that when people turn from a sense of accountability to God and begin to trust instead in the 'arm of flesh,' disaster lurks. Trusting in the arm of flesh is to ignore the divine Author of human rights and human dignity and to give highest priority to riches, power, and the praise of the world (while often mocking and persecuting those who follow a different standard)."
Pres. Kimball also said,
"We must leave off the worship of modern-day idols and a reliance on the 'arm of flesh,' for the Lord has said to all the world in our day, 'I will not spare any that remain in Babylon.' (D&C 64:24.)"
Are they right? Without question. The scriptures contain a curse on those who follow man or put their trust in man's arm. In 2 Nephi 28, Nephi's final address warns the gentiles how vulnerable they are to this mistake, and how they will be cursed as a consequence. He offers hope, however, conditioned on repentance and return to following the Lord.
"Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts." 
"Oh Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yes, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm." 
How this affects the local levels of the church
Pres. Ezra Taft Benson once said,
"Sometimes from behind the pulpit, in our classrooms, in our Council meetings and in our church publications, we hear, read or witness things that do not square with the truth. This is especially true where freedom is involved. Now do not let this serve as an excuse for your own wrong-doing. The Lord is letting the wheat and the tares mature before he fully purges the Church. He is also testing you to see if you will be misled. The devil is trying to deceive the very elect." 
These days, what are we hearing or witnessing that does not square with the truth?
- Members saying, "I know that taking the jab is wrong, but it's a 'Spiritual Obedience Test,' so I'll take it."
Many members equate taking the jab with the Israelites' looking at the brass serpent on a pole. The serpent represented Jesus Christ -- the very same Jesus Christ who is never mentioned by medical experts, government leaders nor church brethren regarding Covid. Looking to Jesus should heal you. Instead, the jab has accumulated more adverse events than all other "vaccines" combined over the last 20 years, and many more who have taken it have still contracted Covid. Those aren't the same results as those who looked to the brass serpent and lived.
- "Those who don't take the jab/wear a mask shouldn't attend church with those who have."
When Alma and Amulek visited the Zoramites, they observed that the people were not included in their services:
"Therefore they were not permitted to enter into their synagogues to worship God, being esteemed as filthiness." 
Later, Jesus instructed the Nephite disciples,
"And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not;" 
And also warned his disciples,
"They shall put you out of the synagogues" 
In encouraging members to get the jab and wear masks, The First Presidency's usage of the word "urge" should not be considered as a simple recommendation or advice. Since the announcement's release, many wards and stakes have adopted it as an actual policy governing members' attendance to temples and local church meetings. I have received reports that non-adherence to these local policies has denied some members’ ability to worship alongside other church members.
Because Church Headquarters has not clamped down on these restrictive actions, but has instead let them perpetuate, its silence and inactivity is a tacit approval of these local measures. Indeed, while the church's worldwide leaders hide behind the word "urge," many local leaders aren't. And the Brethren just let it continue.
One communication I have received was from a member who lives in a ward and stake whose leaders make it abundantly clear that people are not welcome at church if they don't mask up.
Other wards and stakes have taken things a step further. Here is one church member's report:
"This is New Zealand, This is MY Stake .. Yes, we have mandates but other Stakes and Wards have found ways around it, so this segregation and exclusion doesn't happen, for example; getting smaller groups of people in different parts of the chapel , holding meetings outdoors or even continue Zoom meetings for everyone until everyone can meet face to face. (It doesn't have to be this way)
Yes, these are the NZ government mandates and rules but no the majority of people are accepting these, we have signed petitions, we have being protesting on the streets ( all religious and non religious denominations) but nobody is listening, the Main Stream Media ignore us.. nobody shows what is really happening. We are loosing our jobs (especially health workers and teachers) lots of businesses have been force to close and we are being excluded from services and some retail shops.
No, This is not the Church doings!! These are some local leaders who have chosen this way. The Church has to abide by the law of the land. Some other leaders have chosen to find ways to abide by the law and still don't add or promote the segregation and discrimination.
I thought to show this, so we don't "normalise" or accept this as a norm! I want to make this clear "This is not the Church" just some leaders."
Here's the video proof:
When church members feel they can no longer worship God at church/their "synagogue", and/or feel shamed into having to wear a mask or get the jab, then they will often choose to worship God at home. 
"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." 
10. https://www.byui.edu/radio/interview-with-president-henry-j-eyring-and-kelly-c-eyring-about-their-devotional-address; https://www.rexburgstandardjournal.com/news/the-eyrings-welcome-byu-idaho-students-back-to-campus/article_6a2773f6-b598-526b-8060-07882394a0a4.html
11. D&C 1:19.
12. Psalm 118:8.
13. D&C 89:4.
14. 2 Nephi 28:31-32; italics added.
15. 2 Nephi 4 :34; italics added.
16. "Our Immediate Responsibility", BYU Speeches, October 25, 1966.
17. Alma 32:3.
18. 3 Nephi 18:22.
19. John 16:2.
20. Alma 32:5-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16
21. 2 Nephi 31:20. Italics added.