It you haven’t yet heard about “Wear Pants to Church Day,” allow me to explain: It is an event that was organized by female members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to encourage women to wear slacks while they worship. But the true meaning and intention digs much deeper than that.
The controversial, one-day campaign has attracted widespread attention after being undertaken earlier this month in a more general effort to draw attention to the role of women in the Mormon faith, The New York Times recently reported.
On the surface, this may seem curious to some who are unfamiliar with the Mormon policy on garments during worship. But there is, in fact, no official church regulation barring women from wearing pants to church. However according to those behind the campaign, there is sometimes pressure for females to wear a dress to church — something that has purportedly been an unspoken rule.
After getting ready for church, the participating women were encouraged to take pictures of their outfits and post them on the “Feminist Mormon Housewives” Tumblr page. So, on Dec. 16, Mormon women across the globe did just that.
The Times has more about how the event took form — and the negative reactions that some of the women received:
“Wear Pants to Church” was the idea of Stephanie Lauritzen of Salt Lake City. She and some fellow Mormon women who belonged to a group called All Enlisted posted an events page on Facebook on Dec. 9. Within days, thousands had pledged their support, but one person threatened to shoot women who showed up in pants. Ms. Lauritzen, 26, also received threats on her own Facebook page that are being investigated by Facebook and the local authorities, she said.
The individuals behind the campaign, though, didn’t just have their sights set on pant-wearing. Their hope is that, by staging the event, a new dialogue will be launched surrounding the grander role of women in the faith. From ordination to church responsibility, these females are looking to spark a discussion — and, to a degree, many would argue that they have been monumentally successful.
Despite bringing in negative reaction from many Mormons and observers who found the event silly or offensive, they have also attracted widespread support. And, indeed, a dialogue has commenced. Take, for instance, Aimee Hickman, editor of the Exponent II, a Mormon feminist magazine, and her stance on the matter. While she was initially skeptical of the event, after seeing negative reactions and slurs waged at the women, her positon changed.
“This made me rethink my original position,” Hickman told the Times, noting that the furor and attention surrounding the campaign has people discussing and debating gender roles in the church like never before.
San Diego State University professor and religion scholar Joanna Brooks called the protest of sorts “the largest concerted Mormon feminist effort in history.”
LDS spokesperson Eric Hawkins declined to comment about “Wear Pants to Church Day.” However, another spokesman, Scott Trotter, made it known before the event that clothing is not something that should be at the forefront of church attendance.
“Attending Church is about worship and learning to be followers of Jesus Christ,” he said, according to KSL-TV. “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.”
There’s no word yet if the campaign will continue beyond the Dec. 16 event. What do you think about it? Let us know in the comments section.
This story has been updated.
(H/T: New York Times)