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March 29, 2015

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Not just about wearing pants to church: Female Mormons want bigger role

Mormon feminists have hit on fashion to promote demands for a larger say in church affairs: Today is "Wear Pants to Church Day," intended as a show of solidarity for women's religious rights. Their sartorial flair has triggered some support — along with some bitter anger.

The event, which was being promoted on a special Facebook page, had drawn more than 1,200 supporters, a relative handful compared with the 6 million practicing Mormons nationwide. But by Thursday evening, the original page had been taken down and a new one posted, with this note:

"The event page got taken down due to the death threats. this is a page to further the cause but without a face attached. This page is for women who are choosing to wear pants this next Sunday."

A screen shot of the original page included this comment:

"Every single person who is a minority activist should be shot .. in the face ... point blank ... GET OVER YOURSELVES ...."

Passions were flowing about far more than pants.

"I'll tell ya, the damn liberal women's movement has all but destroyed God's amazingly beautiful art of 'femininity,'" wrote one male visitor to the original page. "I'd love to 'weigh in,' but a bunch of liberal HE-girls are not going to like my opinion of their angry masculine ways."

A woman responded: "Ladies. Gentlemen. The point here is not pants. The point is to expose the fact that something as trivial and benign as pants can cause a riot. When a rule is this meaningless, and this scary to break, it NEEDS to be broken."

Women commonly wear dresses or skirts to worship services, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not prohibit them from wearing pants. Yet, proponents say women are expected to quietly toe the line on what men consider the proper clothing to be worn to church.

"The LDS dress code is not doctrinal," said one commenter, a woman. "Never was. All it amounts to is the opinions of elderly men."

In a statement issued before the death threats, church spokesman Eric Hawkins said, "Attending church is about worship and learning to be followers of Jesus Christ."

For years, Mormon advocates for women's rights have called the male-dominated church leaders hypocrites. Although the liturgy praises women as life-givers, men dominate church management, they say. Women cannot be ordained to a lay priesthood available to men and boys 12 or older. That gives men a spiritual and practical power that women do not share, critics say.

The church says that women's roles are not lesser, just different.

The Facebook group, which calls itself All Enlisted, formed this month in an attempt to attract attention from Mormons nationwide during the holiday season. Organizers also are asking men to show their support by wearing purple, a color historically tied to women's rights.

Many commenters on the original Facebook page said the Mormon faith would be the winner in the debate — if the movement got more people to attend church.

"If wearing pants gets you to church, great!" one Facebook visitor wrote. "If wearing a kilt gets you to church that's fine, as long as you are not missing the important fact that we should be there to worship the Lord."

But the threats cast a chilling shadow.

"Mormons actually threatening to kill others because of pants??? There is seriously something wrong when people are threatened by women wearing trousers," one woman wrote on the new Facebook page. "We are supposed to be members of a church that teaches love and tolerance and acceptance. Honestly, the hate I have seen about this issue leaves me wondering why people are members of Christ's church if they can't at least try to not judge others."

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  1. Please, wear pants to church if you'd like. I'm sure you are always welcome in Mormon churches no matter how you're dressed.

  2. "Women commonly wear dresses or skirts to worship services, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not prohibit them from wearing pants. Yet, proponents say women are expected to quietly toe the line on what men consider the proper clothing to be worn to church."

    Normally I don't pay any attention to the new national columnists linked into the Sun's Opinion pages, but this one is just too good to pass up. I am a former Mormon -- detached, not apostate -- a descendant of Mormon founders and polygamists. Lived and taught it all for four decades, served an honorable mission and married in a temple.

    In the 1960s when jeans came into fashion in a big way, the first fashion experiment for women were jeans sans fly. They zipped or buttoned up the side. The General Authorities -- those old white men in downtown Salt Lake who decide everything for everyone -- first declared no jeans at all for all females. Mainly teenage girls ignored them and wore them to non-chapel activities anyway. Then the brave few started wearing boys' jeans, the kind that zipped or buttoned up the front. Same big deal, decrees from Salt Lake, all that. The girls remained defiant and some of the parents supported them. As long as no pants were worn in the chapel the whole controversy passed and life went on.

    For this it literally comes down to the tradition of who wears the pants in Mormon families.

    Considering how the Book of Mormon has been completely debunked in the last couple years with DNA conclusions the Americas' original human inhabitants have Asian origins, not Middle Eastern, surely the General Authorities have bigger fish to fry.

    "Religion is the opium of the people" -- Karl Marx from the introduction of his 1843 "Contribution to Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right"

  3. Great comment, KillerB!

    Let me posit: Those with power in the LDS Mormon Church, tend to have ways to compell compliance behind the scenes, away from public eyes. So these threats come as no surprise to me as I know all too well how these people work.

    So females must wear dresses or skirts to/at Church towards what end? Well, how about the LDS Mormon MEN man-up and be like Jesus and start wearing ROBES if they want to "appear" to be 'holy' and fitting in with 'tradition'.

    It's about what is in the HEARTS of humanity and not about apparrel folks. Check judgement and condemnation at the door, please.

    Blessings and Peace,

  4. "Let me posit: Those with power in the LDS Mormon Church, tend to have ways to compell compliance behind the scenes, away from public eyes."

    star -- so it is with all institutions, especially religious. I long held the opinion from my Bible&Book of Mormon-thumping days this falls under the social gospel category. It's the unwritten laws of all brands of the herd -- what you wear, how you present, what's "appropriate" according to the rest of the herd. It's everywhere -- just look at the tabloids. We would all be better off just minding our business, no?

    Thanx for the kudos!

    "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." -- attributed to Seneca the Younger (executed by Nero in 65 A.C.E.)

  5. Pants. Next thing you know, those women will stop cooking and cleaning the house. Men are in still in charge and it has worked well growing the church.

  6. "Men are in still in charge and it has worked well growing the church."

    vegasbike -- and every church. It's a biblical charge to all wives to submit to their husbands as well as to the church.

    "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." -- George Orwell's "Animal Farm" (1945)

  7. Wasn't it the same for all churches/religions at one time - no pants in church for women? As recently as the 1980's, women couldn't wear pants to a Catholic Mass. It just wasn't considered appropriate. At one time, we couldn't even go into Church without something covering our heads!! I still see females wearing dresses and such to Church; but I also see people wearing clothes that are more fit to wear cleaning the basement - jeans, t-shirts, shorts, etc. which is totally disrespectful.

  8. Going to a Church, or Synagoge, or Temple, is both a personal and social matter of CELEBRATING one's faith/convictions. Usually folks "shiney up" when they go out into the public, shower, put on clean clothes and good manners when they go out and mingle with others. Somehow, religious dogma has made fashion and attire a religious issue. The poor of the world are clothed in rags, will that prevent them from celebrating or attending a gathering amongst fellow believers? It is doubtful.

    At school, I see the levels of respect and manners students have. Some have never been taught while growing up in their homes even the most basic of things, I kid you not, and have to be trained to do what is acceptable behavior at school which is time consuming.

    Since I am over a half century old, I remember going to school forced to wear either dresses or skirts (or face getting swats and sent home). In my last year of high school, that traditional practice finally ended with the Women's Liberation Movement in full swing. Looking back, appropriate pant suits were not only comfortable, but practical (for modesty reasons). There has been a saying over the years I have heard men say that women are entitled to a nice dress, barefeet, and housework. Such men subjugate and demean women and their roles in society. For years women were under the thumbs of dominating men, both at home and in their careers. Many good women had turned into the Edith Bunker of the CBS hit show, "All in the Family," catering to the whims of the males in their lives, only later to watch her husband dump her for a newer model leaving her in destitution desparately trying to care of all the children. Women continue to experience barriers with how the LDS Mormon Church value and treat them.

    It is the attitude that is "disrespectful," more than appearances of common culture attire. Again, it is what is in your heart, not what you wear, drive, or live in that really matters in life. The treasures in your heart are beyond all measure.

    Blessings and Peace,