Faith and Fear in the Midst of Snitching: A Firsthand Account

While the tragedy of the Corona virus pandemic has brought out many examples of good as people pull together, sacrifice to help each other, and show courage in many ways, there have been many troubling developments as well. One of the unfortunate developments is the encouragement from some government for neighbors to snitch on each other. There are neighbors in some cities who are acting like spies, taking notes on the activities of their neighbor and looking for evidence that people may be violating the oppressive regulations against “non-essential” travel or violating draconian social distancing/forced isolation regulations.

When simple activities explicitly protected by the Bill of Rights (e.g., the freedom to assemble, freedom of religion) become criminalized and normal social relationships are soured with distrust, spying, and eagerness to report others to an overly powerful government, something very ugly has happened. With that thought in mind, I’d like to share the recent experience of a friend of mine who lived in fear of his neighbors for a while in a city where snitching related to the Corona virus was a serious threat. I share it both as a warning of what we may face in our society, but also as an example of a parent in a fearful situation finding guidance and strength through prayer to be able to cope. The account below, used with permission, was written for a broad group of his friends, many of whom are not fellow members of his faith. What he did not explain is that the fervent prayer he describes was actually a priesthood blessing he gave his daughter as they were on the eve of a necessary move that could result in either returning home safely or possibly facing a nightmare. To protect my friend’s privacy, I have edited out a couple of statements that would could have made it easier to track him down, just in case.

I will also add that my experience in Shanghai was often blessed by kindness from our neighbors. One of them, our landlord for the past couple of years, has been one of the most friendly and loving people we know. She took my wife to dinner recently at a marvelous restaurant and is always bringing us food and doing other kind things. We’ve had such friendly and kind neighbors. I’m sorry that my friend went through quite a different experience in another part of China, but what he faced and overcame may have valuable lessons for some of you.

Here is the account of a father in China caring for a daughter with the flu, not COVID-19:

From my vantage point in China, it looks as though things are careening out of control overseas, as the crisis that we in China have been living with for months is now hitting home in the West. My daughter and I were in a remote area of southwestern China, on vacation, when the panic hit here. When the news of the Wuhan lockdown reached [the large city where we were], people vanished from the streets, and everyone began watching each other, eager to report any friend or neighbor showing symptoms of any illness, or anyone suspected of having come from Hubei Province, where the epidemic was raging. Pharmacies were watching for customers purchasing medicine, and police and neighborhood watchmen were vigilant. Anyone sick with anything was being detained and quarantined, no one knew where, along with family members. All public places were shut down, so there was literally nowhere we could go.

And in the midst of this mass hysteria, my daughter came down with a bad case of the flu. No dry cough, no respiratory issues. Just a good old fashioned high fever, sore throat, and serious congestion. I realized that, if she were discovered, we might both be whisked away into some awful quarantine, or worse, she might be taken from me, and interned somewhere where she might come into contact with the real Corona virus. For several days, we stayed put in the house where we were staying, while I hoped and prayed for her fever to break, constantly monitoring her symptoms against what was then known of the Corona virus, to make sure it WAS the flu.

Day after day we waited. I was very careful to hide the piles of used tissues in non-see-through trash bags, so that no one snooping through trash bins would find the evidence, and to conceal the food that I was bringing back for her. Finally, on the day before the owner of the house (who was beginning to suspect we were harboring a sick person) told us we had to leave, we managed to get plane tickets to get as far as Chengdu, a city where [we had access to an apartment], where my church has representation, and where the U.S. government has a consulate — a place with a support network. But there was a problem: my daughter was still running a fever, and all the airports and transportation hubs were swarming with people checking temperatures.

At this point, in sheer desperation, we resorted to a final fervent prayer that my daughter would be healed overnight, so that we would be able to escape. And in a turn of events that can only be characterized as miraculous, she awoke the next morning fever-free and almost completely better! By the time we went to the airport that afternoon, she was back to her normal self, after more than a week of illness. But I did not breathe easily until we were past the checkpoints and on the plane.

We subsequently made it back to [our destination city in China], where we have been living in relative ease and safety, with adequate food and other supplies…. Even as I write these words, life is returning to normal here. It turns out that this disease is not like the flu, in that quarantines and other commonsense safety measures do seem to work. But for a few weeks, it certainly seemed as if the world as we had known it had come to an end.

Believe me when I say that I understand fear, because both my daughter and I experienced the absolutely sickening, overwhelming helplessness that comes of being in the midst of world-altering events, in a far-off land where no help is forthcoming. Yet we both got through it, with a little prayer and a stiff upper lip. As your countries plunge into what we’ve already been through, know that it won’t last forever. China had to power down for a while, but now it’s powering back on; and the rest of the world will, too. To paraphrase Vera Lynn, who sang reassurances in a far darker time than this, the lights will go on again, all over the world. You will have your sporting events, your rallies, your schools and universities, your churches, your travel, your vacations, your parties, and all the other social activities that make our lives worthwhile. This thing will not last. Some of you may fall ill, but you will heal. Markets will fall, but they will recover. Fear may trouble your hearts, but it can be replaced with hope and optimism. Stay strong, use common sense, and use resources like social media to strengthen each other. That’s what we’ve done here, and what you can do there!

May we all be spared from snitch-rich environments. Here’s wishing for a return to a more normal and healthy society. But whatever our environment, we can seek divine guidance on how to cope and how to live. Keep growing in faith and prayer!

Author: Jeff Lindsay

40 thoughts on “Faith and Fear in the Midst of Snitching: A Firsthand Account

  1. The irony of this post is so thick I can hardly breathe. The LDS home teaching program, the BYU "honor" code, courts of love, missionary "companion inventory" have all programmed this behavior into the LDS mind for decades.

  2. Home teaching as snitching? Have you been a home teacher? Has your family experienced the support and help that a loving ministering brother or sister brings? Have you been a BYU student or a missionary? I have and I don't see your objection as valid.

  3. Don't know who you know and associate with, Jeff, who spies and snitches but I'm glad mask-wearing is an overt activity. I can easily see who won't show the consideration for others to wear a mask and avoid them and the places they frequent. I can see when the number of people who refuse to respect the safety of others rises to a level of serious concern and I can choose to continue to stay home when if don't feel safe.

    The fact is, that it is probably those like me with financial security and discretionary money to spend who will be able to avoid the marketplace and, by extension, the economy some of you are in a big rush to reopen. So pressure governors. Maybe you'll be able to bully some into premature decisions like TX where 5 Catholic priests just came down with C-19 when they reopened their church. One has even died since they re-opened. But you're not going to bully the population into anything. And the more premature the rush, the longer it will probably take for actual consumers to feel secure enough to resume normal public life and normal shopping and spending patterns.

    As an illustration I'm sure you're aware Mormon leadership has issued directives for resuming public services. But the indications from blogs like Wheat and Tares and By Common Consent don't suggest that the faithful are ready to flood back into temples and chapels. I trust you won't be planning to snitch if they throw a sacrament meeting and no one comes?

  4. I'm happy to answer your questions, in order, Jeff:
    • Home teaching as snitching?
    Way to catch my obvious meaning! Yes!
    • Have you been a home teacher?
    Yes, and I've been asked to report on a family's behavior. The teens in the family specifically. Did I report on their behavior? No.
    • Has your family experienced the support and help that a loving ministering brother or sister brings?
    No, but way to load the question! We've been home taught/ministered to maybe 10 times in 12 years.
    • Have you been a BYU student or a missionary?
    Yes and yes.
    • I have and I don't see your objection as valid.
    I expect no less from you after all the time I've spent on your blog. I used to think you word blinders, but now I realize the problem may run deeper. You see what you want to and somehow manage to contort your reasoning into whatever shape is most comforting and jibes best with your thinking. Reality isn't a concern of yours. Only confirmation of your own bias.

  5. I hate it when “simple activities explicitly protected by the Bill of Rights become criminalized.” The Constitution guarantees my right to free speech, yet they arrested me when I grabbed that bullhorn and incited a riot! I got arrested again for yelling “Fire!” In that crowded theater! Sure, in both cases I knew full well that I was causing imminent harm — in retrospect, I have some regrets about the people who died — but nowhere does the Bill of Rights say that my freedoms may be abridged IN ANY WAY. And when I wrote that letter to the editor accusing my neighbor of being a satanist, bigamist, and pedophile, I wound up in court and the government FORCED me to pay him a lot of money!

    It’s TYRANNY!!!!!

    Seriously, instead of taking the unconstitutionality of state pandemic responses as self-evident, a more level-headed commentator would have examined the actual public health laws on which those responses are based* and then raised the question of their constitutionality in light of any relevant jurisprudence, and in light of the actual details of their implementation.

    Just trying to help you be a better blogger, Jeff. 😉

    — OK

    * I’ve discussed these matters with many, many members of the “I have the absolute right to spread around any disease I want” crowd. Can you guess how many of them knew that their governors were acting in accordance with state law (much less bothered to avail themselves of the miracle of the internet and actually *read* those laws)? Were you to guess “zero,” you would be right. Can you guess how many of them understood that the public health laws in question were passed by the duly elected representatives of “We the people,” and that the governor’s state-constitutional mandate is to execute those laws? Again, zero. Instead, most of them think “the government” just pulled the restrictions out of its you-know-what in a self-evidently tyrannical effort to enslave the sheeple. Because, you know, when a governor whom the people voted into office executes laws passed by legislators the people voted into office, that’s “tyranny.”

    1. Remember that just because a law is created by elected officials doesn’t mean it’s constitutional. We have a supreme court to test questionable laws against the constitution—reversals of law are pretty common (marriage for all is a big one that stands out from the recent past).

    2. Yes, of course, Anon 8:41. And opponents of a state’s coronavirus policies are perfectly free to go to court. Many are doing just that (but wouldn’t be able to do so under tyranny). And if they prevail in court, the policies will change.

      The point is about people’s use of the inflammatory term “tyranny.” Americans disagree about the constitutionality of laws all the time, and these disagreements are adjudicated by the courts all the time. But that’s not tyranny, it’s just the normal functioning of a modern liberal democracy. Now, if the president were to, say, imprison judges or legislators for opposing his will, THAT would be tyranny….

      — OK

  6. It helps to remember that Mormons view the constitution as scripture and the founding fathers as literal gods. In spite of their adultery, theism, fornication, drinking, swearing, backbiting, anonymous name-calling. They're literal gods to Mormons and their document is scripture. This is who we're attempting to reason with.

  7. Anon 10:56,

    I suppose reasonable would be agreeing with you and unreasonable would be disagreeing with you?


  8. Good thing we don't deify them, then, and that Latter-day Saints do NOT view the Constitution as scripture. Inspired, yes, but not scripture.

  9. You must've gone to a different BYU than I did, Ramer. A son of a prophet told me those things.

    1. Must have been one of Warren Jeffs’ offspring.

      Been a member my whole life. Don’t believe in the church anymore, but never heard the founding fathers deified, nor the constitution referred to as scripture. Both are referred to as having been inspired and the constitution as miraculously created to be a blessing to the world (which idea comes with its own cultural superiority problems), but you seem to be taking this to your own extreme.

  10. Not my extreme. Reed Benson's extreme. Son of Ezra Taft Benson. I haven't taken this anywhere as I don't believe it anymore. I dumped it long ago. My original point stands. A fundamental problem in Mormon communities is worth highlighting here: so much of the supposed doctrine comes from hearsay, rumor, and anecdotes shared in Sunday school classes. To illustrate this point, ask 10 Mormons if they believe in guardian angels. You'll get 10 different answers.
    So don't tell me I didn't hear what I heard from who I heard it from. This is a thing that is taught by actual leaders of the Mormon church. It doesn't matter if you've never heard it or if it's not on the books somewhere. It's what's taught. I was there.

    1. Reed Benson during his BYU days is someone you consider a leader of the Mormon church?

      You’re accusing Mormons of taking hearsay as doctrine?

    2. “ask 10 Mormons if they believe in guardian angels. You'll get 10 different answers.“

      Ask 10 Mormons if they believe Trump is handling the Corona crisis effectively and you’ll likely get the same. I’m not sure what point you’re illustrating.

  11. I guess my underlying point to all of this is as follows: don't listen to Mormons when it comes to politics, especially when it comes to the constitution. They seem to think they have a special connection to it. A monopoly on its proper interpretation. Much of this is based in their past prophet Ezra Taft Benson and his acolytes.
    Many current practicing Mormons even the consider the constitution to be scripture, and many consider the founders to be as gods. You may not have heard these tenets from Mormons yourself, nor will you find them written down very often, but the feeling is there in many of their hearts, especially the most devout and most politically conservative. I have heard it personally from more than a few. Even from some in high places or places where they can influence the minds of other Mormons. Mormon political opinion should be viewed with suspicion.
    There. That's my point. Keep picking at it all you want.

    1. Your post above is a little different than your original post:

      “They're literal gods to Mormons and their document is scripture.”

      At least you have distanced your comments from painting all Mormons in the same light.

  12. 5:48 – Picky, this is a blog and rant wall, we aren't publishing theses (feces) here

    2:08 – Inspired or sacred, what makes the US Constitution work is both sides have some sort of respect for it, even if they interpret it differently. Despite others quibbling, I understood what you were saying. Mormons take their respect for the constitution radically, applying a cosmic influence to their particular interpretation.

    1. “Picky, this is a blog and rant wall, we aren't publishing theses (feces) here”

      Understood. As a frequent poster to this blog once said “words matter.” If someone is going to make a radical, untrue claim based on opinion rather than fact, he/she should be willing and ready to defend it when it is dismantled.

  13. Humm, I tried "words matter" on bing, google, etc – No results found

    Am I suppose to pick apart "radical", "untrue", "claim", "opinion" now (words matter!)? Is that how this game works?

    I think we get that modern, sensible Mormons reject Cleon Skousen. The other anon is saying plenty of older Mormons idealize him.

    Skousen advocated that the executive can ignore the judicial if it disagrees with its interpretations. To OK's point, if a corrupt court deliberately misinterprets a law in order to legislate from the bench, we are suppose to just suck it up, not ignore the courts, because that is the way the system works. Ignoring the court the way Skousen advocates would be a greater form of corruption.

    1. Courts cannot legislate from the bench. This is an unjustified complaint from those who don’t agree with their decisions. They have the ability to find legislation illegal based on constitutional interpretation,which is and has been their intended role from the beginning. That’s why the foresight of the founding fathers should be admired. No branch of government has unbridled power to become tyrannical. Neither the judicial, nor the executive has the right to create legislation (although executive orders have skirted this and should be illegal). I think the best proof of the strength of the system is that even with Trump as president, the Republic (yes Republic—not democracy—as the founding fathers also intended) is still functional.

  14. Does anyone with half a brain give a rat's patoot what Skousen has to say about anything? Tell me what you had for breakfast. That's just about as important and determinative.

  15. Anon 8:00 – What you just did is called denial. Naive. Judges are all perfect saints (even republican ones?) and have never made a deliberately biased or corrupt decision?

    That a third party candidate like Trump could get elected is a testament to the system. We thought the electoral college made third party candidates impossible. Trump proved that had Ross Perot just ran on the Democrat ticket he would have won. Considering Bill Clinton came out of nowhere, Perot could have easily talked the party into nominating him. It is possible Perot knew he could have been president, he just did not want it, he only wanted to punish Bush for not helping save his employees.

    The third party president, Trump, proved that Republican and Democrat presidents before were deliberately not using the Commerce Department's power. That department had the power all along, his predecessors just refused to use it because they cared more about global citizens than American citizens. Why was it important to have China in the WTO?

    If Trump wins again, there will be serious efforts to remove the electoral college and make the president elected by popular vote, the same that happened with Senators, proving Aristotle right, that even republics eventual deteriorate into democracies, and then mob rule.

    1. I never claimed judges are perfect nor that they do not have a political bent or agenda. That’s why presidents appointing judges is such a big deal (and why the legislative branch has a say in their approval). Their power is limited to the cases brought before them, however. They must also reach a decision by collective vote, which can tend to temper the political sway. It’s ultimately an imperfect system, but it works.

      Trump co-opted the Republican party by taking advantage of the dissatisfaction of voters in the establishment. Bernie almost did the same on the democratic ticket, but ultimately got jobbed by party leadership. I don’t think party members were as disaffected with the establishment in Perot’s time. Also I think Perot’s main goal was Bush losing the election, not winning himself.

  16. Thanks for the link.

    As far as I can tell, the root of the question is "comparable secular" gatherings.

    The majority acknowledges churches are treated more restrictively than something like a grocery store, but counters that movie theaters are treated more restrictively than the Churches. The majority opinion states that the Churches failed to present compelling reasons why a Church is comparable to a grocery store.

    The minority opinion states that burden is on the State to present compelling reasons a Church is different than a grocery store.

    So it came down to who had the burden of prove. The majority says the Churches do, the minority says the States does.

    And to think I thought a grocery store was clearly different than a Church. I never thought some sort of burden was required to demonstrate a grocery store was different. Now we made a federal case out of it! I thought "make a federal case out of it" was insult we threw at each other as kids on the playground.

    How prosperous are we is this all that we have to worry about?

  17. Now a new ordeal confronts us. Police have brutally murdered an American man in Minneapolis. Cities from the East Coast to the West Coast and everyplace in between are in turmoil. That includes Salt Lake City.

    What wisdom have we received from The Brethren to heal the pain in our communities and in our hearts? Spokesmen for every major religion have had counsel for us. But from Salt Lake City? :: crickets::

  18. Anon 9:41 –

    You don't believe the preliminary medical examiner report?

    "The autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death."

    Sure, the police thought he was faking a medical condition, so they sat on him. Stupid on the part of the police, but murder? Maybe you are right, the ME is corrupt. I don't know, I need more information. I do know sitting on what looks a healthy person might give them a headache, but it does not usually kill them.

    Do The Brethern need to remind Americans to uphold the ideals of one of their founding events, the Boston Massacre, where American forefathers aspired to objectively analyze events on a case by case basis, instead of irrationally jumping to conclusions?

  19. To 9:47

    Is kneeling on a suspect's carotid artery an established protocol of any law enforcement organization in the country regardless of *any* pre-existing or underlying medical conditions?

    Regardless, of how or why Mr. Floyd died, the country is in unprecedented turmoil in major cities all across the land. And I suspect people in smaller communities are just as heart-sick and frustrated. So, my point again, when the people are suffering and confused, where are god's appointed prophets, seers and revelators when the need is so great?

  20. Anon 9:47, are you suggesting that Mr. Floyd would still be alive if those officers had not brutalized him?

    Anyway, one of the reasons the police should minimize their use of force is precisely because so many people have underlying health problems, so for you to suggest that “the officers didn’t know he had health issues,” as if it were exculpatory, is, to put it mildly, horsepoop.

    — OK

  21. Anon 9:56: As some comedian recently said, “Jesus actually died from a combination of being nailed to the cross and high blood pressure.”

    As for those “prophets, seers, and revelators,” their job for generations now seems to have been basic corporate management coupled with the occasional expression of reactionary politics and banal religious sentiment. You know, just like Isaiah.

    — OK

  22. To 9:56

    "Is kneeling on a suspect's carotid artery an established protocol of any law enforcement organization in the country regardless of *any* pre-existing or underlying medical conditions"

    This is a change subject, so I guess we moving on to a different discussion. My understanding is the neck press was part the training, but the officer in the video was doing it wrong. Regardless if it was part of the training, its was unnecessary from my view, but what do I know.

    "unprecedented turmoil in major cities" I have no idea how you came to this assessment. This is regular occurrence, about every 20 years, and this time around is milder compared to prior occurrences.

    "So, my point again, when the people are suffering and confused, where are god's appointed prophets, seers and revelators"

    Good point. The fact they were so interested in a misery equality law in California, you would think they have something to say on this one. Their priorities appear missed placed. Had it not been for their involvement in California, I would not have thought you had good point.

    "when the need is so great?" I still don't follow you on this one. You want them to tell anarchist rioters and looters to quit mixing with those protesting law enforcement practices. I am not sure rioters would listen.

  23. OK 10:57 –

    "are you suggesting that Mr. Floyd would still be alive if those officers had not brutalized him?" I don't think I was suggesting any such thing. It appears the ME is suggesting Mr. Floyd would still have died if those officers had not needlessly sat on him.

    "Anyway, one of the reasons the police should minimize their use of force is precisely because so many people have underlying health problems, so for you to suggest that “the officers didn’t know he had health issues,” as if it were exculpatory, is, to put it mildly, horsepoop."

    I suggested no such thing. I do suggest you scale back your emotions and quit reading things that aren't there. In the video Mr. Floyd falls to the ground right as they are about to put him in the car. Because it happens right before they are going to put him it created doubt in their minds that he did it on purpose. That in no way means it was necessary to sit on him. If they are wound up that tight they probably should not police officers. Nothing I wrote suggested exculpatory. I wrote "Stupid on the part of the police" Are you suggesting the ME is corrupt and it was murder?

    I am tired of police officers claiming they have the right empty their guns into people because a person respond in exactly the way they wanted them to. Now that we have cameras everywhere we know police have been lying for years about what actually happened.

  24. I will clarify first, George Zimmerman is an a** and I have zero sympathy for the wannabe renta cop loser. Florida could not press charges against Zimmerman until Travon Martin's girlfriend came forward to testify. When I saw his girlfriend I felt sorry for Travon, she just did not seem like his desired type of girlfriend. Turns out Crump (Travon family lawyer) fabricated her, she was not Travon's girlfriend, I knew it! She was Travon's girlfriend's half sister.

    Now that same Crump is ME shopping. The Epstein body examiner that said Epstein's windpipe bones were broken will be hired by Crump to say George Floyd's windpipe bones were broken just like the Epstein case. The Florida prosecutors in the Zimmerman case knew the girlfriend witness was not Travon's girlfriend, but they had plausible deniability to say the did not know, even though they had to have known.

    So the question is will the FBI let Crump produce a fraudulent pathology report then way the Florida prosecutors let a fraudulent witness on the stand in the Zimmerman case.

  25. OK, thank you for the excellent points made about the tragic killing of George Floyd and the need for minimal force and caution. It's a point that needs to be strongly reiterated to police all over the nation. I'm seeing way too many examples of excessive force and violent response. This should be a great concern to all of us of any race.

  26. There two issues. Police reform and racism. Police reform is a great ides, but most of the cases BLM talk about had to with behavior not race. In fact calling those cases about race is racist. BLM is massively racist. The only way forward is for the Black community to admit they have a serious racism problem.

  27. Still waiting for god's appointed prophet to bring some wisdom and peace to a country rocked by, now, multiple body blows. Let's see the effect of his special anointing. It is much needed!

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