Provo, UT, United States (4E) – To onlookers outside of any culture, native garments may seem odd, ostentatious and often uncomfortable. Especially odd to outsiders are the garments worn by religious devotees; examples being Native American feather headdresses, Jewish yarmulkes (skull caps), hijabs (modesty veils) on Muslim females and Christian priestly robes. We often do double-takes when we see religious devotees attired this way in public places and on the street. The uninitiated often miss the point. To those; however, who take their religious devotion seriously; they would not be caught without their sacred apparel and/or talismans.
Not all religious groups “wear their religion on their shirt sleeves,” so to speak. In some faith communities, vestments are an entirely private representation of their spiritual reality. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), more popularly known as Mormonism, white priestly robes are worn only within the confines of Mormon temples and are reserved for the highest sacraments of the faith.
The color white is to represent purity. In a curious twist; however, many adult Mormons, both men and women, daily wear cotton undergarments, either bright white or some variation of white, beneath their street clothes.
The modest undergarments, called “temple garments,” come in two pieces (i.e.; boxers and an undershirt) and are never exposed to the eyes of non-Mormons. In fact, Mormons will not even launder and dry the garments in a fashion that might expose them to non-Mormons.
Integral to the faith as the garments may be, Mormons are quick to dispel rumors that the garments contain “magic” properties; rather, they are a symbol of fidelity and devotion to covenants made with God. It can be equated with the way that a Protestant or Catholic Christian might wear a cross or crucifix around his or her neck. To attribute “magical” qualities to the garments is actually considered offensive.
In an effort to clear up the mystery surrounding temple garments and promote sensitivity, the LDS church put out a four-minute video Thursday on a mormonnewsroom.org topic page.
A spokesperson from the church has said, “Because there is little or no accurate information on this subject on the Internet, the church feels it important to provide this resource.”
The video has gone viral since its release, reports the [Provo, Utah] Daily Herald, and can be found on YouTube: http://youtu.be/SkTz_NQqKA8.
A writer for Religion News Service, Jana Reiss, is a Mormon. She responded to the video by saying, “I can understand why it seems strange to non-Mormons that our holy garment is underwear. (Seriously? Underwear?)”
“But to me,” she continued, “that is exactly the most beautiful thing about it. What article of clothing could we choose that would be more profane, at the end of the day? What could be more tied to the messiness of being human?”
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