“A Mormon Take on ‘Holy Underwear’”


The Curitiba Brazil Temple
of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints


I’ll frankly admit that, while, on the whole, I was reasonably satisfied with Thursday night’s special edition of Brian Williams’s Rock Center on NBC, there was one part of it that I didn’t like, that I found quite uncomfortable:


I was jarred and offended to see two pairs of temple garments displayed on national television.


However weird and bizarre others may find such things, believing Latter-day Saints such as I regard them as sacred and, thus, deserving of a certain amount of deference and, yes, in this case, of privacy.  Just as I don’t interrupt the prayers of others, or walk between Catholic worshipers and the altar at mass, or even remain seated when the priest asks the congregation to stand, or stroll between praying Muslims and the mihrab of a mosque, or even gobble down pork in front of my devout Jewish and Muslim friends, I believe that the boundaries of the sacred — even of the sacred in other people’s faiths — ought to be respected.


Was it really necessary to display “Mormon underwear” on national television?  As somebody wrote yesterday, “How on earth, now, can American voters possibly be expected to make an intelligent decision in November, unless they have a chance to see Barack and Michelle Obama’s underwear, too?”


I recall a friend who made a guest appearance, quite a few years back, on a rather adversarial Evangelical cable television show in a Western state.  The host of the program, who soon turned out to be much less civil and fair than my friend had expected — and my friend hadn’t expected much — kept taunting him, demanding that my friend show the host and his audience his “magic underwear.”  The Mormon guest took it for quite a while, but then, finally, exasperated, turned on the host and demanded “What kind of a pervert are you?  Why on earth are you so obsessed with my underwear?  Is this some kind of fetish of yours?  Do you always want to see other people’s underwear?”  I’m told that the subject never came up again.


Still, Mormon temple garments have become a matter of real interest for certain folks, and there are legitimate ways to address legitimate interest.


Here’s a very good short piece on the subject by Robert Rees, accompanied by a fine short introduction written by Jana Riess:




Bob Rees tells me that his article will also appear shortly (probably this week) in the Oakland Tribune.  (And — I’m speculating — perhaps, since this topic seems so weirdly fascinating to so many, it will be picked up further from there.)



"Floods might have doomed prehistoric American city"
"Heavenly Mothers Day, BYU Heavenly Mother Art Show, May 8, 2015"
For all those who send me hate mail, insulting messages, and threats
How to treat people
  • Julianne

    There is a difference between honest questions and morbid curiosity.

  • http://saintsherald.com/ John Hamer

    I agree with you. I don’t think it was appropriate to show.

  • Kim Walker

    Yes, there is a difference. Brian Williams asked the only dissafected Huntsman grandchild if a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles wound feel uncomfortable showing him their under garments.

    What a creepy question. I would have turned that around and asked Mr. Williams if he thought his parents or grandparents would mind showing off their underwear to a perfect stranger on national television. Probably not.

  • http://www.TempleStudy.com Bryce Haymond

    You might be interested in a respectful commentary by the Catholic Dr. Estés on the Mormon garment. Although she makes the same mistake of publishing a photo of the garments:

  • DB

    I’m Jewish. Orthodox by birth, training and practice. And I can tell you the theology sees nothing wrong, rude, or disturbing about a non-Jew eating pork. You can do it in front of us. We don’t care.

    • danpeterson

      That’s fine. Just as I don’t carry when people I’m dining with drink coffee, beer, or wine.

      But I still don’t go out of my way to eat bacon, sausage, or ham when I’m eating with my Jewish or Muslim friends. There are plenty of other things to eat, and, on those occasions, I eat other things.

      • DB

        Sure, but WHY? There is no theological reason for a Jew to blink twice if a non-Jew eats pork. I don’t know a thing about the Mormon faith, but I imagine its universal, right? If you believe its teachings are for all mankind, then sure it matters theologically if a non-Mormon drinks coffee. Judaism is not analogous.

        • danpeterson

          Because I see no reason to wolf down ham-wrapped pork sausages sprinkled with bacon bits when I’m eating with my Jewish and Muslim friends. Why on earth should I?

          • DB

            Why on earth shouldn’t you? It really seems you’re making an invalid analogy between Judaism and your own faith. Again, Jew have no theological, moral, ethical, religious, or biblical objection to a non Jew eating pork. It’s allowed. No Jew would care. You deprive yourself for nothing.

          • danpeterson

            I can’t imagine why you would think that I was saying anything at ALL about Judaism, really.

            How does the fact that I feel more comfortable not ordering pork when I’m dining with Jews or Muslims draw any kind of analogy with Islam or Judaism? Why does it bother YOU? How does my preference inconvenience, pigeonhole, analyze, stigmatize, mischaracterize, analogize, osterize, pasteurize, or rubberize your faith?

          • DB

            I can’t imagine why you would think that I was saying anything at ALL about Judaism, really.

            By not eating pork in front of Jews, you’re suggesting the Jewish theology has some objection to a non-Jew eaating pork. But it doesn’t. I theorized that you’re making this mistake because the faith you know (Mormonism) is universal and you therefore assume Judaism is, too. But it isn’t. A nonJew is allowed to eat pork, and Judaism has no complaint about it. This is pretty simple…

          • danpeterson

            It IS pretty simple, and I’ve been aware of it for at least thirty-five years. I get your point. I got it a long way back.

            I haven’t spent a year living and teaching in Jerusalem, taught courses on Judaism and Islam, read about Judaism, talked with many Jews, and the like, over the past four decades without learning anything at all about Judaism. I’m not quite that stupid.

            You’re reading way, way too much into this, and I can’t quite imagine why you insist upon doing that.

          • Alissa

            Way to be classy and respectful. Too many people in the world today feel they should express their freedom the do certain things, especially in front of people who disagree with those actions and especially in front of people who may find it offensive.

  • christine randolph

    there is a difference between My Underwear and Underwear in the Style that I wear.

  • Etaoin Shrdlu

    I’d say it all depends on CONTEXT. Were the garments displayed in a spirit of mockery, or simply to inform the public about a matter many non-Mormons have questions about? If the latter, then it was actually an opportunity to dispel the myths anti-Mormon prejudice creates.

    As for actually displaying the garments: Come On! There are websites that offer these for sale (including, I believe) some sponsored by the Mormon Church itself. It’s not like we’re being shown the inside of the “Holy of Holies” (access to which was limited to the High Priest).

    Consider this article by a Mormon about the subject, and then decide if it’s really such a big deal: http://www.sltrib.com/csp/cms/sites/sltrib/pages/printerfriendly.csp?id=54798825