Mormon feminists don pants to promote Church equality

Sun Dec 15, 2013 11:04pm EST
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By Jennifer Dobner

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Mormon feminists wore pants to church services on Sunday, rather than their usual dresses or skirts, as a symbol of gender equality and inclusiveness in the traditionalist faith.

The effort was aimed at building on momentum from the inaugural "Wear Pants to Church" day a year ago and marked a break with deeply ingrained customs for women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a religion known for its patriarchal structure.

"I realize it sounds like a crazy thing. Women wear pants all the time, but sometimes at church it feels like we're asked to adopt gender roles that are very traditional," organizer Nancy Ross, 33, of St. George, Utah, told Reuters.

"We want to show people that we are active and faithful and that there is more than one way to be good Mormon women."

Officially, the Mormon church does not impose any dress code for worship but many women say they feel pressured to put on a dress or a skirt for services.

Church officials offered no specific comment on the pants day movement beyond a prepared statement that 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."

Mormon Jami Baayd, 31, said she was nervous walking into her Salt Lake City congregation on Sunday in black pants with her husband and three children. A self-described feminist, Baayd was not sure how her congregation might react.

"This definitely deepened my faith. It also deepened my optimism," she said.   Continued...