Mormons address mystery surrounding undergarments

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Mormons address mystery surrounding undergarments
In this image from the Mormon Newsroom YouTube channel, the traditional temple garments worn by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be seen.  
In this image from the Mormon Newsroom YouTube channel, the traditional temple garments worn by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be seen.  
In this image from the Mormon Newsroom YouTube channel, the traditional temple garments worn by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be seen.  
** FILE ** The sun sets behind the Mormon Temple, the centerpiece of Temple Square, in this April 27, 2006, file photo, in Salt Lake City. There are a host of Mormon beliefs that evangelicals find hard to swallow. Mormons, for example, believe in a Heavenly Mother and a hereafter that includes a three-level heavenly kingdom. They wear religious undergarments that some say possess protective powers, bar non-Mormons from entering their temples, practice posthumous baptisms, and believe that man can progress to a God-like state in Heaven. Despite 170 years of history, much about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the church of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, remains a mystery to most. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2013, file photo, the angel Moroni statue, silhouetted against a cloud-covered sky, sits atop the Salt Lake Temple in Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The expanding international footprint of the Mormon church will be on display this weekend starting Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, during a conference that brings 100,000 members to Salt Lake City to listen to guidance and inspiration from church leaders. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
In this image from the Mormon Newsroom YouTube channel, the traditional temple garments worn by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be seen.  
FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2013, file photo, the angel Moroni statue, silhouetted against a cloud-covered sky, sits atop the Salt Lake Temple, in Temple Square, in Salt Lake City. While Kate Kelly’s former church leaders meet in Virginia on Sunday, June 22, 2014, to decide if she’ll be ousted from her religion, the founder of a prominent Mormon women's group will hold a vigil in Salt Lake City along with hundreds of her supporters. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Jared Bowden carries a sign as he marches with Utah atheists and former Mormons as they march around the Salt Lake Temple Square during the Mormon church general conference Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Salt Lake City. More than 100,000 Latter-day Saints are expected in Salt Lake City this weekend for the church's biannual general conference. Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give carefully crafted speeches aimed at providing members with guidance and inspiration in five sessions that span Saturday and Sunday. They also make announcements about church statistics, new temples or initiatives. In addition to those filling up the 21,000-seat conference center during the sessions, thousands more listen or watch around the world in 95 languages on television, radio, satellite and Internet broadcasts. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
People walk pass the Salt Lake Temple on the way to the Conference Center during opening session of the two-day Mormon church conference Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Salt Lake City. More than 100,000 Latter-day Saints are expected in Salt Lake City this weekend for the church's biannual general conference. Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give carefully crafted speeches aimed at providing members with guidance and inspiration in five sessions that span Saturday and Sunday. They also make announcements about church statistics, new temples or initiatives. In addition to those filling up the 21,000-seat conference center during the sessions, thousands more listen or watch around the world in 95 languages on television, radio, satellite and Internet broadcasts. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 5: 500 supporters of 'Ordain Women' walk past the Salt Lake Temple of the Mormon church to march to Temple Square on April 5, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah to request entrance to the Mormon churches all male priesthood session. The group organized to ask the leaders of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Mormons, to open up their all male priesthood to women ordination and leadership. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
President Thomas S. Monson, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, center, arrives for the afternoon session of the two-day Mormon church conference Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made announcements about church statistics, new temples or initiatives. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)
Members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing during the opening session of the two-day Mormon church conference Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Salt Lake City. More than 100,000 Latter-day Saints are expected in Salt Lake City this weekend for the church's biannual general conference. Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give carefully crafted speeches aimed at providing members with guidance and inspiration in five sessions that span Saturday and Sunday. They also make announcements about church statistics, new temples or initiatives. In addition to those filling up the 21,000-seat conference center during the sessions, thousands more listen or watch around the world in 95 languages on television, radio, satellite and Internet broadcasts. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 4: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings during the 184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on October 4, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Faithful Mormons from around the world are gathered in Salt Lake City for the two day conference. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Mormon church is addressing the mystery that has long surrounded undergarments worn by its faithful with a new video explaining the practice in-depth while admonishing ridicule from outsiders about what it considers a symbol of Latter-day Saints' devotion to God.

The four-minute video on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' website compares the white, two-piece cotton "temple garments" to holy vestments worn in other religious faiths such as a Catholic nun's habit or a Muslim skullcap.

The footage is part of a recent effort by the Salt Lake City-based religion to explain, expand or clarify on some of the faith's more sensitive beliefs. Articles posted on the church's website in the past two years have addressed the faith's past ban on black men in the lay clergy; its early history of polygamy; and the misconception that members are taught they'll get their own planet in the afterlife.

The latest video dispels the notion that Latter-day Saints believe temple garments have special protective powers, a stereotype perpetuated on the Internet and in popular culture by those who refer to the sacred clothing as "magical Mormon underwear."

"These words are not only inaccurate but also offensive to members," the video says. "There is nothing magical or mystical about temple garments, and church members ask for the same degree of respect and sensitivity that would be afforded to any other faith by people of goodwill."

The video and accompanying article feature more detailed information about the garments than has ever before been released to the public, Mormon scholars say.

It was made to fill a void on the Internet, which has little, if any, accurate information about the undergarments, church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement.

The video, also available on YouTube, explains that the undergarments are worn daily by devout adult Latter-day Saints as a reminder of their commitment to God to live good, honorable lives.

The garments, which resemble a T-shirt and shorts, are shown laid out on a table in what marks a rare public glimpse at clothing that normally is hidden from outsiders. Members are taught not to hang the garments in public places to dry or display them in view of people "who do not understand their significance."

The video comes two years after jabs about the undergarments were lobbed at Mitt Romney in 2012 with the intent to damage his candidacy as the first Mormon presidential nominee of a major political party.

At one point during the campaign, New York Times columnist Charles Blow tweeted, "I'm a single parent and my kids are amazing! Stick that in your magic underwear," after Romney decried the country's rate of out-of-wedlock births.

The video's focus on the offensiveness of flippant remarks about the undergarments shows the church no longer will tolerate them, Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University.

Latter-day Saints seem pleased by the refreshing transparency from the church on a topic that has been the source of much curiosity among outsiders, some whom are rude about, said Jana Riess, who blogs about Mormonism for the Religion News Service.

She wrote this week that she hopes the footage will "persuade gawkers that there's nothing to see here, folks."

"They now have something official to point to if people ask questions," Riess said in an interview. "I love that they put it on YouTube for the entire world to see. I think that's very brave."

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