Mormons address mystery surrounding undergarments

7 PHOTOS
Mormon church and magic underwear
See Gallery
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.  
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.  
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
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)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

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."

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.