Pants at Church?


Selma, Alabama.
Not today.


Today was the day on which women were supposed to wear pants to LDS church meetings.


Unfortunately, as I feared, I completely forgot to pay any attention.


I didn’t hear anybody mention the issue, and my wife tells me that nobody brought it up in Relief Society, either.


My comment, the other day, that I really don’t care whether women wear pants to church, garnered some fascinating responses.  One individual, who plainly wanted women to wear pants to church, pronounced me a “[obscene adjective deleted] [vulgar noun deleted]” and, as a reward for his exhausting attempt at formulating an Aristotelian syllogistic argument, earned  vocal praise and enthusiastic agreement from several others of the Pro-Pants Party.  Some of those favoring pants at church, though, offered more nuanced responses, explaining, for example, that my indifference to whether women wear pants to church or not shows my disdain for women, my lack of interest in my fellow members of the Church, my contemptuous arrogance, and, of course, how very far I am from being like Christ.  (Curiously, they seem to think that Christ cares a very great deal about whether women wear pants to sacrament meeting.)


Anyway, the sordid and terrible fact remains that I didn’t notice whether any women wore pants to church today.  It should have been easy, since, in my ward or congregation, all three sacrament meeting speakers were women, the chorister was a woman, the organist was a woman, and the special musical number was presented by five female violinists who were accompanied by a female pianist.  If my life depended on it, though, I couldn’t tell you, now, what they were wearing.  I don’t think that they were wearing pants, but I can’t guarantee that.


Last night, after the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert up at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, I briefly remembered the issue and, before thinking about other things for the rest of the evening, I counted at least five women in my immediate vicinity who were wearing pants.  But, since last night wasn’t today, I don’t think those cases count as part of the protest that was planned for Sunday, 15 December 2013.  It was just cold last night.


If Pants Sunday was a big deal in your ward today, I would enjoy hearing about it.  I can’t imagine why it would be a big deal, personally, so I would love to hear details.  Were there fist fights?  Heart attacks among the high priests?  Admonitions from the pulpit?  People carried bodily from the chapel?  Linked-arm choral renditions of “We Shall Overcome”?  Indifference?  No mention at all?



A major modern myth and the two men who largely created it
The most important personal qualities
Do you have questions or concerns about Islam? If so, I need your help.
  • Darren

    My story’s easy: I stayed home with a sick baby today and so I’ve no idea how many women wore pants to church. But, like Dan, I really don’t care.

    • DanielPeterson

      Such wickedness, Darren, needs to be wiped from the surface of the globe.

      You don’t care? You must hate and despise women.

      • Darren


  • Chad Emmett

    I know one faithful, lovely woman who wore pants today. Of late she did a remarkable job serving as an auxillary president. I do not want to put words into her mouth, but I don’t think she wore pants because she wants the priesthood, or because she hates men or because she wants to change the traditional dress code for Sunday attire. I think she wore pants because as a believing Mormon she feels that we can do better in the way men and women work together within the church. Making fun or not caring only adds to their very real frustration.

    • kiwi57

      In the interests of full disclosure, I should admit up front that I wore pants to Church.

      One young woman (about 19 or so) did as well. She’s a friend of the family, visiting from out of town (with a small overnight bag.) Apart from that, I didn’t notice if any of the other sisters did.

      It doesn’t bother me what women wear to Church; I don’t know if it ever has. Consequently, I fail to see why we’re somehow obligated to notice. Or to care what they want to wear.

      As I said the other day, I go to Church for quite different reasons. If someone’s “frustrated” that I’m not going to let them hijack my time to worship the Lord, then they’re just going to have to suck it up.

      Men are notoriously oblivious to what people wear most of the time anyway. If I were into conspiracy theories, I might wonder whether “Wear Pants to Church Sunday” might be a set-up intended to get men into trouble.

      Especially since, for every woman waiting to tell us what insensitive boors we are for not noticing their choice of attire (and immediately and enthusiastically agreeing with whatever point they’re trying to make) there seems to be at least one other who wants to scold us for being creepy male stalker-wannabes, objectifying women as objects of lust, for no other reason than that we did notice what some woman wore. There simply isn’t any way we could win in this matter, and we’re on a hiding to nothing if we try.

      However, there’s one item of clothing I did notice. One of the male Sacrament speakers wore a paisley tie. Not only that, but the paisley pattern was overlaid by diagonal stripes. Now paisley is a serious sin on its own, but mixing it with stripes ought to be an excommunicatable offense.

      • mike

        “Men are notoriously oblivious to what people wear most of the time anyway.”

        One of the truest observations ever noted.

        • DanielPeterson

          Quite so.

    • DanielPeterson

      I just can’t seem to grasp how my being perfectly fine with women wearing pants to church is oppressive or frustrating to women who want to wear pants to church.

      Would you like to spell that out for me, Chad?

      • Rusted Sun

        You can be fine with it with out making fun of or being dismissive about it.

        • DanielPeterson

          I laugh at lots and lots of things — emphatically including myself.

          Please feel free to supply me with a list of Things That May Not Be Laughed At. (I can’t absolutely guarantee, though, that I won’t laugh at it.)

          I simply don’t see any big deal about wearing pants to church. And it doesn’t strike me as much of a protest, either, considering the fact that I don’t think it’s particularly “transgressive” and that, like many other men, I wouldn’t — didn’t — even notice it.

      • Chad Emmett

        Dan, it is not about the right to wear pants. I think most Latter-day Saints would be welcoming of people coming to church in over-alls, pants, flip flops, not-white shirts, tattooed necks, whatever. From what I know about some of the women who chose to wear pants, they did so as a statement to the general church body that we can do better (it is sad that sisters feel this is the only way to get their point across). There are many believing sisters out there (and brothers too) who are truly troubled by sometimes subtle things that make some sisters feel less that equal within the church. It has only been this past year that women have been asked to pray in General Conference. When I was in a BYU bishopric in the 90s we were counseled by a GA that the opening prayer in sacrament meeting should be given by a Priesthood holder, no sisters. Happily these policies have changed. But there are still other areas where policies and attitudes could and should be reconsidered. For example, a BYU female student I know recently wondered why it is that men join in sustaining Relief Society presidencies in sacrament meeting, but women do not get to sustain elders quorum presidencies (who over-see things like the home teaching of sisters). Is this based on doctrine or policy or out-dated cultural views? Or why is it that UVU provides affordable day care facilities on campus while BYU does not? Does BYU not want to support working mothers, single mothers, going to school mothers? Or why is that we continue to make young women feel that they are responsible and thereby guilty (by the way they dress) for the immoral thoughts of young men. We can do better.

        • DanielPeterson

          I completely agree, Chad.

          • GrimGrinningGhost

            Cool. Maybe blog about some of those things next time, since you’ve blogged about them….never.

          • DanielPeterson

            There are literally millions of things about which I’ve never blogged.

            Some of them are things about which I care a great deal.

            Feel free to do your own blog and your own entries. There’s plenty for everyone to do.

    • Rusted Sun

      Thank you Chad. I agree with your comment. The dismissive and mocking tone of this article shows the author’s lack of understanding of women’s issues in the church.

      • DanielPeterson

        And how, exactly, does it show that?

        You don’t know anything about my attitude toward women’s issues in the church.

        (I laugh at baseless presumption, too. In fact, it’s one of the most laughable things I know.)

    • Darren

      “I think she wore pants because as a believing Mormon she feels that we can do better in the way men and women work together within the church.”

      So what did she *do* that sunday to help men and women work better?

  • Gwen

    I wore pants today. Nobody said anything, because I wear pants sometimes when it is especially cold outside and it’s easier to manage a toddler that way. But a few women wear pants often in our ward, and nobody ever says anything then either (and contrary to some opinions, I had no protest or political motivations for wearing pants today or any day). I have appreciated the discussion surrounding pants though, because it has initiated conversations (sometimes rude, sometimes respectful) about the differences between doctrine and culture.

    • DanielPeterson

      Thank you for your report. At the risk of coming off as oppressive or contemptuous toward women, I want to say that I have no problem at all with your wearing pants.

  • bfwebster

    We have a few women who wear pants to church every Sunday, so i don’t know if there were more than usual today. Back in our prior ward (Chevy Chase Ward, in DC), we had several as well. It’s never bothered me, nor do I think it should bother anyone.

    • DanielPeterson

      Likewise. Be careful, though, bfwebster. Some people who favor the wearing of pants to church seem to find attitudes like yours very offensive.

  • Nancy Ross

    I feel that your “I don’t care and I don’t see why anyone else would care” attitude is like saying “I don’t see gender and/or inclusiveness issues in the church and I don’t see why anyone else sees them either.”

    • DanielPeterson

      The two are very similar, indeed. Both, for example, are English verbal sentences.

      But, of course, their meanings are quite distinct.

    • kiwi57

      Thank you, Nancy, for telling us how you feel. Speaking only for myself, “I don’t care what women wear to Church” seems a lot more like saying “I don’t care what women wear to Church.”

      Were you one of the Sisterhood of the Sacrament Pants? If so, can you tell us, please, just what you wanted to achieve? Now I’m going to tell you how I feel: when people say things like “If you don’t notice women wearing pants to Church then you don’t care about our struggles,” then it sounds an awful lot like, “I wore pants to get a rise out of someone, so I demand that you react!”

  • Jon

    Why was this particular photograph chosen to illustrate your post?

    • DanielPeterson

      Because I regard the march at Selma as a very serious effort in a very serious moral and political struggle that involved very serious risks.

      • Jon

        How do you regard Wear Pants to Church Day in terms of its meaning and significance?

        • DanielPeterson

          It’s pretty low on the scale.

          White racists in Selma noticed the march (to put it mildly).

          By contrast, evil sexists like me — I’m a sexist because I’m fine with women wearing pants to church, which, oddly, deeply offends some of those who demand that women be granted the right to wear pants to church — paid no attention to whether or not any women wore pants to church yesterday.

        • kiwi57

          Dan, of course, can answer for himself. Speaking for myself: not so much.

          The other day I saw a 42-year-old First Presidency statement that explicitly said it was okay for women to wear pants to Church. (That’s forty-two years. I wonder if there’s a “Hitchhiker’s Guide” message in there.) So as far as the clothes are concerned, it’s a “protest” about nothing.

          But we don’t go to Church to “protest.” We go to worship the Lord, renew our covenants and fellowship with the Saints. Now if someone wants to go for some other purpose, then that’s up to them; but they’ve got exactly zero right to expect anyone else to fall in with their agenda.

  • RaymondSwenson

    A century ago, women wearing pants was apparently considered a threat to the foundations of society. It made the wearing of pants into a daring social statement, drawing attention to the bravery of the nonconformist. I surmise that it is a hankering for having the same kind of social significance that makes wearing pants an idelogical phenomenon now, but after a woman wearing pants received millions of votes in a run for the presidency, and other women are CEOs of large corporations, like General Motors, the symbolism has become an anachronism.

  • utex

    I feel like I just walked into a bad episode of the Seinfeld show–the show about “nothing”. Problem is that some people seem to feel that it is a show about “something”. I can’t explain it.

  • Craig L. Foster

    Like you, Dan, I almost forgot about the wear pants to church day until I saw someone with pants and I thought, “Ah, there is a female wearing pants. I wonder if she is doing so to make a statement.”

    I headed in her direction to ask if she was protesting when I realized it actually was a guy with longish hair. I’m glad I didn’t blurt out, “Are you wearing pants because you want to make a point against the male-dominated church and you want women like yourself empowered?” If I had done that, I probably would have been the one hurting — and not on the inside.

    Last year I commented something like good heavens, I hope all of the women are wearing their pants — oh wait, we’re not in England. I think I had two people recognize the attempt at humor so I’m not going to try that again. Oh wait. I just did. Ultimately, I couldn’t care less whether or not women wear pants to church. And if they’re hurting, like that other women wrote on your last blog, there’s a wonderful thing called talking. Simple communication helps.

  • Doug Ealy

    I went to Church, but I couldn’t tell you if anyone wore pants or not. Please don’t flame me for this, but I really not check out what people are wearing. My own sins and weaknesses give me plenty to think about about, not to mention the little children I help to keep quiet.

    My wife and I have discussed this topic together as I like to hear her side of the story. She told me that she doesn’t really care about any of it. What bothers her the most is there are self-proclaimed leaders advancing her so-called interests. She didn’t ask them nor does she want them staging things on her behalf etc. etc.

  • Allen Wyatt

    I commented on the then-upcoming event over on my blog a few weeks ago, Dan. The comments I received may be instructive; I’ll let you decide what they actually tell one.