The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told its members on Wednesday that all patrons and workers will be required to wear face masks at all times while in the temple.
Why it matters: It's the Mormon Church's latest effort to encourage masking and vaccination among its over 16.6 million members around the world.
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What they're saying: "As cases of COVID-19 increase in many areas, we want to do everything possible to allow temples to remain open," church leaders wrote in a letter.
"Our urging Church members to be vaccinated and to protect themselves and others from the spread of disease has precedent," they noted.
Prior leaders "shared similar messages in 1900 about smallpox and in 1957 regarding polio," they said. "Please do all you can to protect yourself and others so the work of the Lord on both sides of the veil can move forward."
The big picture: The Mormon Church, one of the largest Christian denominations in the U.S., has some of the most highly involved members out of all Christian religious traditions, including membership in congregations and frequent attendance at worship services or small group activities, according to the Pew Research Center.
In Utah, where the Church is headquartered, roughly 64% of residents ages 12 and older have been fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, according to state data.
Utah, like the rest of the country, is facing surges in cases and deaths among the unvaccinated.
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