The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday that they are suspending the production of religious clothing at their Beehive Clothing facilities in the United States and around the world to help create millions of clinical face masks and gowns to donate to healthcare workers.
In a letter sent to church members worldwide, church President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyrin of the First Presidency, said they were making the change in response to the coronavirus pandemic and “we have been taught to be ‘anxiously engaged’ in relieving suffering and caring for those in need.”
“To that end, we are joining with other organizations around the world to address specific needs related to the pandemic. For example, our Beehive Clothing facilities in Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, Paraguay, and Utah are temporarily shifting their operations from the manufacture of religious clothing to the sewing of masks and gowns needed by local health care professionals and communities,” the letter says.
The church’s Relief Society is also leading their participation in a partnership between Latter-day Saint Charities, Intermountain Healthcare, and University of Utah Health that will see members helping to sew some 5 million clinical face masks in their homes.
“To date, we have approved over 110 COVID-19 relief projects in 57 countries. Most of these are done with trusted partners from humanitarian agencies, health ministries and hospitals, which allows us to use our resources—including food, hygiene products, personal protective equipment, medical equipment, cash and other commodities—in places where they can do the most good,” the letter adds.
“We invite our members to participate in these and other relief projects in their areas and communities as opportunities arise and as local government directives and personal circumstances allow. May we be blessed in our efforts to care for others and provide hope and help to our Heavenly Father’s children everywhere.”
Last December, the church pushed back against a report on a new whistleblower complaint to the Internal Revenue Service, which alleged that the organization stockpiled some $100 billion of tithes and donations meant for charity, saying the “vast majority” of those funds are spent immediately for church business and related humanitarian work.
“We take seriously the responsibility to care for the tithes and donations received from members. The vast majority of these funds are used immediately to meet the needs of the growing Church including more meetinghouses, temples, education, humanitarian work and missionary efforts throughout the world,” LDS officials said in a statement.
They noted, however, that the church has managed to save and invest its finances well to build a “prudent reserve for the future.”
“Over many years, a portion is methodically safeguarded through wise financial management and the building of a prudent reserve for the future. This is a sound doctrinal and financial principle taught by the Savior in the Parable of the Talents and lived by the Church and its members. All Church funds exist for no other reason than to support the Church’s divinely appointed mission,” they continued. “Claims being currently circulated are based on a narrow perspective and limited information. The Church complies with all applicable law governing our donations, investments, taxes, and reserves. We continue to welcome the opportunity to work with officials to address questions they may have.”