Robert Kirby: Segregating the Sabbath — and it’s not what you think

Robert Kirby

COVID-19 has changed us. Some effects from social distancing and everyone walking around looking like bank robbers will be temporary. But there’s no doubt that the pandemic has left indelible marks.

It’s been months since I attended church at all. At some point, we’ll start up again, but will we notice the changes? A Provo Latter-day Saint ward recently announced a plan to begin segregated sacrament meetings.

Before losing control of your mind and bowels over my use of the S-word, please understand I am not talking about racism. I’m not even talking about gender, species or nationalities.

This is about masks. The Provo ward is trying to cater to those who feel uncomfortable congregating without masks, and those who prefer sharing everything they have with everyone else.

Mandatory mask worship in this ward will be held on the first and third Sundays of the month. Face coverings will be optional on the second and fourth Sundays.

All other social distancing measures will be in place. Only every other pew will be occupied. Households must sit 6 feet apart (yea, even unto the use of The Holy Tape Measure). There will be no singing. Oh, and sacrament trays will not be passed from person to person down the rows.

There are, as I see it, a couple of problems. About four months per year have five Sundays in them. What to do with this spare day?

Might we turn it over to other versions of Mormons? What about LGBQT Mormons getting the chapel to themselves on the fifth Sunday? Or Young Adult Sundays, when the gospel is discussed in a more modern context.

Even better would be Old People Sunday, when only those worthy of holding an AARP card would be granted admittance.

One thing I’m certain of is that this alternating form of worship could easily catch on long after COVID-19 is gone or most of us are dead.

Few things are more divisive than politics. Could there be Republican Sundays (Latter-day Saint pews would be packed) and Democratic Sundays (when LDS social distancing would be a breeze with or without the coronavirus)? Socialists or libertarians could get that extra Sunday.

Some people don’t like the stress of worshipping in mandated uniforms. Dress Down/Up Sundays might be an option. Suits, ties and skirts every other Sunday, and flip-flops, shorts and T-shirts on the rest.

We might want to consider Hoot and Holler Sundays for families approaching the size of military units. No more trying to tune into the spirit through the screaming of small children. Just attend on the other Sundays — when people are snoring.

Ooh, wait. I got it. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before. Let’s make every other Sunday the Holy Sabbath. Whose idea was weekly church in the first place?

It certainly wasn’t Mormons. For us, Sunday worship was a carryover from all those other “false” churches. Why can’t we apply some revelation there and come up with a new and improved worship schedule?

How can we go wrong with only half as much church? After months of no church at all, half as much will seem like just the right amount.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.