Women wear pants to LDS churches as part of goal to change church culture

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A group of Mormons are pushing for inclusivity within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are working to change church culture; Sunday marked the Second Annual Wear Pants to Church Day.

The movement was organized by a group called "All Enlisted."  Mormon feminists, women and men, wore dress pants and the color purple to their local LDS Church services Sunday. Organizers said the day isn’t just for women, it’s for anyone who has felt judged or excluded on a Sunday at church.

“To underscore the importance of inclusivity in the church and to say to people, ‘If you think you're different, if you feel left out, if you feel there isn't a place for you here, there is,’” Mormon feminist Jamie Baayd said.

One year ago, Jamie Baayd couldn’t relate to those claiming they felt judged or excluded from the LDS Church culture, but a lot has changed in a year and this time around Baayd and her friends and family chose to participate in the Second Annual
Wear Pants to Church Day.

“People who just feel like they don’t fit the mold, the classic LDS mold, and even getting rid of the idea there is a mold,” Baayd said.

There's no hard and fast rule according to LDS Church Spokesman Cody Craynor, who said:

"Attending Church is about worship and learning to be followers of Jesus Christ. Generally Church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a sign of respect for the Savior, but we don't counsel people beyond that."

J.L. Hiatt is the second counselor in the bishopric of the 31st Ward in Salt Lake City, and he spoke about the issue.

“The church is wide open to anyone of any race, any culture, any background, and we don’t care what kind of pants you wear or if you wear a skirt or a dress to church, that’s totally fine,” he said.

Even though there's no written rule against wearing them, Baayd admits she was afraid to come to church in her slacks this morning, which she said made wearing them that much more important.

“I have nothing to do with the church doctrine, I believe that comes from God, but I have everything to do with church culture, and if people are telling me they don’t feel comfortable because of what they wear or who they love or any of those reasons then  we’re not doing a good job translating that message,” she said.

Organizers acknowledge church policy has not discouraged women from wearing pants since 1971. They said until that same year, Disneyland required women to wear skirts.

51 comments

    • E David Ferriman

      I agree, Finny. My wife has been wearing pants to church for years, it is sad that some women feel so degraded that they need others to wear pants with them. My wife wears pants more often than my sons and I do, we wear kilts most Sundays. It’s about dressing for the Lord and too many members are dressing for others. Sad. I too am glad to have married a woman that doesn’t have to follow the social trends and just do what is right for her and the Lord.

  • Gail Noble Hays Stark

    I would love to enlist them in addressing some real struggles and problems that we as people and our country are dealing with. How would it be to to have the time to address such trivial matters. Wear your pants and move on to weightier concerns please!

  • Joan Day

    Just because someone ‘FEELS’ uncomfortable, doesn’t mean there is a problem with those around them. It means that something is going on in their own minds about what they are doing. They are the ones who have to deal with their feelings, not the Church.

    • anna

      I agree 100% Just because you are not comfortable in your own skin, don’t drag the rest of us into your problem. This is my church too and wearing a skirt is much more humble than your tight fitting, feminist pants.

  • Elizabeth Swedin

    As a convert to the church I am impressed that these women are doing something so small that makes a bigger impact then what people realize. I felt so uncomfortable at first because I only owned dress pants. Sadly Utah Mormons (not all) look down on difference. I didn’t feel this way in Idaho or Florida but in Utah it makes a difference, especially to new or non Mormons.

  • Elizabeth

    why did they have to use the color purple? I have Lupus & that is the color of our awareness ribbon…now I can’t wear 1/2 of my dresses to church without someone thinking I support these women… 😦

    • mediumharris

      Wear them anyway. Don’t let anyone else define what you can and can’t wear. People shouldn’t be judging and assuming things off of your clothes anyway. That’s actually the whole point of this day, which is separate from the whole priesthood thing. Some involved support that and some don’t. So wear whatever you’re comfortable going to church in and don’t let others define who you are or what you stand for!

  • Mungagungadin

    to raise awareness, Elizabeth. My husband and sons wore purple ties and my daughter and I wore black slacks with purple sweaters.

    I support all the people who have felt excluded.

  • Melanie Hall

    It would be nice if Mormon women / girls could go to church in a nice outfit, but not a dress. I totally understand looking nice in the Lords house but it shouldn’t be looked down upon if women don’t wear a dress / skirt. I remember when I was a child and our bishop had foreign exchange students living with him. The girl came to church wearing pants. I remember thinking “Oh My Goodness”! She’s not in a dress! And a lot of people were commenting on her. It’s really sad when I think about it.

    • Dale

      Wear whatever you want to church. Doing it to openly protest the church or its doctrines in a sacrament meeting is a bit over the top. If you are doing it to protest, you should picket outside. Otherwise, come on in!

  • Char

    I think it is fine to wear nice slacks to church – it can be more modest than dresses. I have never worn slacks to church – but I think it should be encouraged.

  • Lori Bolland Embree

    I m sorry Gail and others who don’t think the things presented here aren’t “real” problems. Which church problem should we have addressed instead? It was awesome to see real people, who had at one point felt excluded, who had heard of this movement and decided, because of this movement, to come to church again today. Many came and listened to the Gospel, sang Christmas songs and sat by us. To me, those human beings will never be trivial.

  • Lori Bolland Embree

    Also, Dale…this wasn’t a protest at ALL. And dresses have certainly never been “doctrine” as you suggest. This day was about feeling welcome and included. Like I said before MANY people came that wouldn’t have before they heard about this. That is great news isn’t it?!
    🙂

  • Lori Bolland Embree

    Mungagungadin….

    I am so glad your husband and children supported this today also. I have no doubts that you are an awesome parent, and I am also sure they are intelligent enough to know EXACTLY why. I kind of wish Dale and others were. Truly.

  • Allen

    Rebellion, however you compromise it or, rationalize it, is still rebellion. No sister, or lady, would have issues wearing a dress. It show’s respect to The Lord, and to the prophets and everyone else at church. Of course we judge. That is how we ‘choose the right’ in everyday life. If you think rebellion to the Lords guidance is good, ok use that to make you feel better. It is still rebellion. That is what Satan wants. You are making him happy by making a simple dress code a point of stress,and agitation for many whose testimony is already weak. It is simple. Wear what you would if you were a missionary. That is what we are supposed to be.

    • Paul Flack

      Allen, with all due respect, that is very backwards thinking. Wearing a dress or wearing slacks has to do with culture, not doctrine. Who exactly are slacks-wearing women rebelling against? Certainly not the Lord. There is no revealed doctrine on the topic–“My thoughts are not your thoughts, saith the Lord.” We need to focus on supporting women and all people in making the decision to come to church regardless of what they’re wearing.

  • Sara

    Funny thing…I’m no longer an active Mormon but, as far a I can remember the church doesn’t care what you wear (pants or skirts). As long as you are living the way they teach. How about we all concentrate on loving & respecting ourselves and others. And as mothers in the church or not, teaching our children that same respect and love. Pants or not I think that’s what we are lacking in our world today. The fact that this is such an issue is getting ridiculous.

  • Allen

    Paul there is no ‘due respect’ in your retort. Both the culture and the doctrine of the Church came through Joseph Smith from The Lord. He said “be in the world not of the world”. I know of some women who want to wear sleeveless tops and hot pants to church. Is that OK? Does it show respect for The Lord? In some missions all they have is old clothing to wear to church. But if they had nice clothes they would wear them. Its not about clothes, It’s about attitude. What is ‘proper’ to show respect to The Lord? This goal by ‘feminist’ groups is just a selfish, disrespect for decency and a ploy to alter everything and anything to get their way regardless of what is right. It has nothing to do with clothing. “And thus the devil cheateth their souls and leadeth them away ‘carefully’ down to hell.

    • Paul Flack

      Honestly Allen, I would just be glad that the women in sleeveless tops and hot pants were in church. The LDS church is growing in leaps and bounds and we are soon going to have more converts in the church than old-timers like myself, and so we will have more tattoos, more colored shirts, more nose rings, and more “hot pants” in church. The sooner we start looking past what people are wearing and more time on what brought them to church, the more retention and true fellowship we’ll enjoy. The way to show respect to the Lord is to love him and love others, and allow others to work out their own salvations.

  • Allen

    Honestly Paul, I am going to go ahead and let my boys wear Levi’s and T shirts to church. Who cares? Their friends have shirts with graphic images they have wanted to borrow. I will just say ok, as long as you go to church. Right? No. Your comments are loaded with rationalizations. Hot Pants? Let’s put it this way “God will not be mocked!” And that s what you are suggesting they do. Mock The Lord.

    • Paul Flack

      Well we’re obviously not going to convince each other on this forum. All I will ask is that you don’t let your disapproval for others be too obvious when you’re at church, so that their worship will not be unduly disturbed.

      • Allen

        Ok Paul. I guess some only go to church to be seen anyway. I am sure my daughters friend who loves modeling and showing off in her bikini would be welcomed in Sac. Meeting. After all, she says she fills spiritual while in her bikini.

    • E David Ferriman

      You need to stop coming to church to be seen and start coming to worship. I wear kilts, as do my sons. Would you take the Sacrament if one of us were passing it to you? If not, then the fault clearly lies with you. My wife looks more dressed up in pants than a skirt or dress. Will you avoid her in her Stake calling because she isn’t dressed the way you like? She has given talks wearing dress pants representing the Stake and thus the Lord. Neither has issue with it, so why do you? She isn’t asking for the priesthood, she’s just coming to worship. I recommend you start doing the same.

      • John

        David
        I would love to see you and your boys wearing kilts in Church and would be thrilled to see kilt wearing sacrament passers.
        Honestly I doubt I would even notice if women wore slacks to church – so long as they were dressed in a neat and respectful fashion.
        The pants are not the issue – the attitude in which we dress and attend is. So long as your attitude is one of respectful worship you’ll be welcome in my ward. As we learn more about how to express our attitude of respectful worship we tend to modify our dress (where it is required).

  • Moracle

    The problem here seems to be an inordinate feeling or need for the approval of others, usually due to a low self-esteem.

    Since these women are demonstrating against a Church policy that exists only in their mind and think the only way they can feel good about wearing pants to Church is because “many others are doing it, so it’s ok for me too,” the real need here seems to be for them to work on their own need for approval of others and lack of self-esteem.

    When I’m doing something others disapprove without justification, I don’t ask for a demonstration against their small-mindedness, I speak to the person(s) involved and ask: “Why?”.

    Someone asked: “Why purple?” I would imagine that’s to draw attention to the statement they are trying to make, by making sure everyone sees that they are indeed wearing pants.

    • Eric Anderson

      Amen. They act like they’re breaking a rule where none exists. Women have always worn slacks to LDS meetings, in my experience. Not a lot of them, but some. Going all the way back to my earliest recollections in the early 1970s. Nobody noticed or cared. I find this whole thing bizarre, and rather amusing. “Rebels without a cause.”

      Have you nothing meaningful to do, ladies?

  • Allen

    To E David. I go to church only to worship and feel the spirit. I do not feel the spirit in a meeting where there are insolent, caustic, hypocritical club members causing confusion and bad mouthing the doctrine and trying their hardest to be accepted by their appearance. Being eccentric and immodest or acting like a nonconformist (liberal) by intentionally wearing weird attire breeds contention, not decency.
    You won’t be wearing a kilt in the temple. A Chapel is also the Lords house. I hope you wear underwear under your kilt. You probably don’t. No, I won’t take the sacrament from a man wearing a kilt. He is more concerned about making a fashion statement than going to worship.

    • E David Ferriman

      Allen, you said that you “go to church only to worship and feel the spirit,” then bashed liberals. Like it or not, liberals are Christians too. Let them enjoy the same blessings you are wanting to enjoy without judging them. I have to put up with both groups, so I know your pain but you just have to deal with it. It bothers me to dress up like a white collar criminal every Sunday to make Conservatives happy. I’m not there for you, and neither are these women. We are there for the same REASON as you, the Lord. Keep that in mind as you judge them. They are worshiping the same Jesus you are and he loves all of us, in spite of all of our weaknesses.

  • Allen

    To all, I am sorry if I offended any on this site. I had a few discussions with friends and I feel I left out a few thoughts and ideas that may relate to what people need for a connection with The Lord. May Heavenly Father bless you all in your efforts to realize the Spirit in your lives and as you grow in your testimony.

  • LB35

    I didn’t even notice; I was too busy listening to the Sunday School lesson about the Proclamation on the Family. Was it just a coincidence that they had this protest on the same day as this lesson?

  • vr59

    Jesus wore a freakin sheet. I guess if He went to an LDS church, He would be criticized too!

    It’s isn’t a person’s clothing, it’s a person’s actions that matter.

  • JLap

    This reminds me of the episode of the Office that Michael hosted a fun run for rabies awareness. It’s a complete non-issue. If they feel uncomfortable wearing pants that’s their own fault, not the church’s. Women wear slacks all the time, as long as you dress up the best you’re able then great!

  • Gay Kleven

    Uh…Disneyland requiring women to wear skirts before 1971? Clarify please..Disney women or customers. Because i have pics of my mom and at Disneyland around 1969 and she is wearing jeans. If I had known there was no rule about wearing slacks at church, I would have done it years ago.

  • sue

    I always dressed well when I attended church.Winter months I would have liked to wear dressed slacks.I think people should respect the savior and dress as nice as possible.But a lot of people don’t have that many clothes..so Jesus would be the last person to throw them out because of their dress.People during his time listened to him probably wearing almost anything.but the Temple he respected highly.

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