Mormon Feminists Plan Demonstration in Sunday Worship Services

Devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) consider their Sunday worship services, formally called a Sacrament Meeting, to be the most sacred, public gathering in the LDS Church. Each week, on the Sabbath, members and nonmembers are invited to attend a worship service in one of our many local meeting houses, which are different than an LDS temple.

The reason the Sacrament Meeting is considered sacred to members of the LDS Church, is because the ordinance of the sacrament is administered to baptized members during this meeting, in remembrance of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church. It is the only Sabbath meeting the entire family can attend together. Its content in addition to the sacrament should always be planned and presented to focus our attention on the Atonement and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Dallin H. Oaks

With this understanding, it is no wonder that many LDS Church members are alarmed to find that a small group of Mormon feminists have organized a growing demonstration, encouraging the wearing of pants to Sacrament Meeting, hoping to bring attention to their quest for equality. And unfortunately, as is usually the case, the liberal media have picked up on their story, and with the help of social networking is spreading rampantly; gaining the attention of the general membership.

I heard about this demonstration a few days ago, and at that time had decided not to respond, as these types of issues tend to be hyper-sensitive and the risk of offending is unfortunately very high. However, after being contacted privately by over a dozen of my readers, upset and/or confused, wanting to know my thoughts, and more importantly, sharing their thoughts with me (And frankly, seeing the conversation pop up everywhere.), I began to think differently.

First of all, it's no big deal for Mormon women to wear pants to church. No rule against pants. It's just not the norm. Most women wear dresses or skirts. So, if a woman did show up in pants, perhaps someone might notice. But really, most would not. And if someone did, who cares? The only guideline is that we dress in a reverent manner, taking into consideration that the meeting is a worship service.

Now, mind you, not every member is upset. Some think it's just silly. Others detect the many complicated layers involved.

However, most members agree, and find deeply disturbing, the fact that this group of feminists, members themselves, are willing to boldly disregard the importance and sacredness of the Sacrament Meeting, and the very personal nature of the ordinance administered to individual members of the Church, in order to draw attention to their cause.

To the sisters that reached out to me, and the majority of those that I have observed their responses, the overarching concern is not why this group is demonstrating or how they are doing it, but where and when -- our Sabbath day observance and in our Sacrament Meeting. 

And in fact, many LDS women expressed love and compassion toward women who describe themselves as Mormon feminists, who feel the need to demonstrate in this manner, at this level, suggesting a desire to reach out in kindness and understanding if some sisters do show up wearing pants in their own wards and branches. I was touched by that level of Christlike love. Mormon women have a great capacity to love one another.

One sister expressed it this way, "More than anything, I feel sadness for the sisters that feel hurt and confused enough to feel they need to participate in this, because it means that they have not yet gained a true testimony of the divinity of womanhood in the Lord's plan of happiness, and how ESSENTIAL we are to that plan. There is only one way to find true knowledge and attain true peace when we are troubled... by laying our burdens at the foot of the cross and seeking peace from the only True Comforter... not through means which wish to convey attention in a sacred setting to an agenda, rather than the Savior."

And from another sister, "I just heard about the women wearing pants to church to show they are progressive and want more equality in the church. I read their reasons and I just don't understand where they are coming from. To me, their reasons are that they don't understand the basics of the gospel. They don't understand the priesthood and womanhood. And that this is the Lord's church. They don't understand the symbolism of the temple. And by doing this demonstration in such a sacred room meant to become one with our Heavenly Father, to me, is totally inappropriate. It's really bothering me. Our stake presidency the past couple years has been putting such an emphasis on what we all can do to create a more sacred experience. And by doing this demonstration it essentially will distract from the meeting and ordinance. In the end it is my choice to let it effect me during the sacrament. I am just really struggling with this. This is the Lord's church, not ours. He is in charge of it, not us. I will still love these sisters, but I don't understand why they want to push the leaders to change. If they are so unhappy why do they stay, and not find another religion that suits them. Can you help me know what to say to these sisters, I was never good at expressing myself. I don't want conflict..."

I think what these sister's feelings demonstrate, which many of us share, is a sincere desire to have our sacred space, and time, protected from inappropriate demonstrations, while at the same time a desire to understand, with compassion, those who have opposing feelings to things we hold sacred -- a difficult maneuver, to say the least.

I am left with only one thought, encompassed in one word: CHARITY. May we all seek to obtain this most needful gift of the Spirit.

Any who may have thought it a small thing to partake of the sacrament should remember the Lord’s declaration that the foundation of a great work is laid by small things, for “out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Out of the seemingly small act of consciously and reverently renewing our baptismal covenants comes a renewal of the blessings of baptism by water and by the Spirit, that we may always have his Spirit to be with us. ~ Dallin H. Oaks

Due to the very sensitive nature of this topic I have decided to discontinue approving ALL comments. Please accept my apologies.

Kathryn Skaggs

Newly Called Sister Missionaries Unite and Create EPIC Video

Sacrament Meeting FAQ:

Bishops have a sacred responsibility to ensure that the Sacrament Meeting is planned and conducted by the Spirit and that the Spirit is maintained throughout the meeting.

The tone of a Sacrament meeting is intended to be reverent, with as little distraction as possible. It is intended to be an atmosphere where the Spirit can be felt and where those seeking inspiration from heaven may do so, with minimal distraction.

The Sacrament Meeting is the one meeting that members attend together as a family -- the basic unit of the Church.

Members are commanded to attend the Sacrament Meeting -- -- receive the sacrament and renew covenants.


  1. Excellent post Kathryn. I thought about 3 Nephi 11: 29 last nite when I was reading thur many comment threads about this. "Contention is not of me, but is of the Devil, who is the father of all lies and seeketh to stir up the hearts of men to contend, one with another." For me, church is the most importaant 3 hours of my week, even if I am spending most of it chasing my kids. I'm sure these sisters think they are making some big statement, but I think they are only trying to pick fights with people. I think they are just waiting for someone to say something to them so they can turn around and write mean and snarky blog posts on Monday. Come on sisters -- let's not contend, let's just go to church, worship and council with the Lord and our leaders if we are having problems.

    1. Thanks. I'm sure for some that's perhaps true. But for others, it's a desire to be heard and understood. I really think this issue will only improve if individual sisters work within their own wards and branches to affect change with local leadership and members. I think when personal relationships are strengthened hearts will change.

    2. Well, if you want to be understood, you have to be nice about it. No one likes it when you're mean. I'm serious. No one is going to ever take the Mormon Femminists seriously until they calm down. Because from my corner of the peanut gallery I only see anger and meanspiritdness and people who do not want to do things the Lord's way. The Lord does understand our suffereings, but we have to be willing to do things his way.

  2. I really appreciate your thoughts on this. Seeing everyone's reactions to these events has NOT filled me with charity, but has made me feel rather belligerent, and I realize that is a change I need to make within myself.

    1. Thanks, Tess. I think we all have a tendency to react initially with defensiveness. So to slow it down and step back, realizing that this is an opportunity to respond as the Savior would expect of those who profess His name, is, I think, a good challenge for us all.

  3. Who cares what people wear to church? We have sisters wearing pants to church every week! Now, most of them are newer members, but not all of them. It just doesn't matter!

    What does matter is if someone "wears" a countenance full of anger, hatred, bitterness, fear, anxiety, depression, loneliness, envy, condemnation, confusion or hurt. I will rush to assist anyone "wearing" one of those as best as I am able, because I know the atonement can heal whatever is the cause of any of those ailments. But not because they don't belong in church wearing those countenances, because that is exactly where they should be!

    Honestly, who cares what people wear to church? Let 'em wear pants! As long as they keep coming, they have a chance to be healed! (And we ALL need healing.)

  4. I see this issue a little differently. A vast majority of the commenters have said exactly what Brian wrote, who cares. My concern is that this little 'movement' can start with we are going to wear pants to church; and in fact most will not care but what will be the next step? Some of the commenters on the All Enlisted facebook page have written such things as - why can't I pass sacrament? Why can't I bless my baby? Why can't I baptize my child or my friend?
    There appears, to me at least, a little growing movement of women wanting to be ordained to the priesthood.
    I hope I am wrong, time will tell.

    1. Joyce,

      I didn't interpet Brian's comment as "who cares" about the bigger picture, meaning some of your concerns, which are valid. But rather, those concerns perhaps are based in other painful emotions that could possibly be healed through individuals extending charity towards those who are suffering.

      Perhaps I am wrong, or misread Brian's comment, but I believe that oftentimes we act out in way, and even demand things that we believe will provide us with something we think we need or want. I'm not saying that is always the case, but sometimes it is. Sometimes people just need to know they are loved and accepted. But really, it's a one-by-one case, which is why these group causes will never bring satisfaction to individuals, IMHO.

    2. I hope my comments don't promote the idea that we shouldn't care how people feel, or about misunderstandings, or about pride or prejudice; I care with all my heart about those things. What people wear rates zero on the scale of things that matter, but WHY they wear those things might just matter a lot.

      The difficulty lies in judging one another; none of us is qualified to do that. So, if we are unqualified to judge, let's not do that. Unless we are in a position, one-on-one with a person who feels some rebellion for some reason, to give them some private personal counsel, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, we probably should NOT let ourselves get drawn into the emotional battle that is taking place among a few of us. The beam that is in our eye might just be our own righteous indignation at a perceived threat to the church. (I'm not suggesting that is your situation at all, by the way!). We all have weaknesses; we will better serve the Lord and our fellow beings by humbly submitting ourselves to God in regard to our own shortcomings than to try to keep our brothers and sisters in line.

      What we can do is let the great God of Heaven take care of His church, and let church leaders do their fallible best to administer things as patiently and judiciously as possible (I'm one of those leaders and I know how fallible we are!) and not over-react to those who allow themselves to be drawn into contention and criticism of this wonderful, but not perfect church. It is imperative that we, the body of the church, act with patience, kindness, long-suffering and perfect love as we are taught over and over again. If there is a threat to the church, it isn't going to come from outside groups of anti-mormons or ex-mormons; the only threat to the strength of the church is that the members act some other way than is described so eloquently at the end of D&C 121. And I don't think it is a coincidence that Joseph was living in prison, in the most horrible circumstances imaginable, and that the church was under every kind of attack imaginable when the Lord taught that important lesson to us. There is, apparently NO exception to those principles!

    3. Thanks, Brian, for your clarification and for your insights. Most appreciated.

  5. There are many churches where it's acceptable to go to church in clothes that you just wore when you did yard work. Sometimes investigators come to LDS churches, dressed that way. In very poor countries, that style of clothing may be the best they have. So when women wear trousers in the chapel, in defiance of convention, I view it in much the way I would if they showed up wearing a dunce cap. Their "statement" does not intimidate. When the trouser thing fails to work, I'm sure that they'll show up to Sacrament Meeting wearing Obama masks or maybe they'll show up naked to make a point that they wish to rebel.

    1/3 of the Host of Heaven rebelled and they're not here with us. These discontent, unhappy people were not with that 1/3 but it would seem that in their hearts, they wish that they'd made that decision. It's dangerous to wish too hard for something without thinking it through. You simply might get what you want.

    1. That seems a bit harsh of a generalization, LL. The 1/3 of the Host of Heaven that rebelled against God were cast down with Lucifer. Pretty final stuff. I'm suggesting we exercise a bit of charity here, even if we don't agree with their demands for equality, or even how they are going about trying to get it. At least for now, I think that is what's required of us.

  6. I'm wearing pants on sunday, not to rebel, or make a scene (I really can't imagine anyone caring or even noticing during sacrament meeting what I'm wearing), but as a show of support for others who are hurting over cultural traditions.

    I understand the gospel, I'm not angry, or looking to leave. I love the gospel and have a deep testimony that it is correct, and that this is where I need to be. I also recognize that there are things we do, culturally, that are not the gospel, but often get pushed as doctrine. Some of these things hurt. They don't hurt everyone, but if they are hurting even one person, I think we should be willing to look at them and make changes.

    I originally wasn't going to participate, because it seemed like a silly thing to me- to organize and wear pants to church. I don't think wearing pants is a big deal. However, after seeing so much hatred toward these women on their Facebook page, I decided that I had to support them, because the cruel things people said should not be acceptable responses. Those women got death threats. People were told they should just leave the church. They were called all sorts of crude names. What I saw was not christ like behavior. So I'm wearing pants, because I love the gospel, and I want everyone to feel welcome at church.

    1. Alice,

      I'm sorry to hear if such things as you say have happened. No member of the Church should behave toward anyone, for any reason, in that manner. Not acceptable under any circumstances. I share your concern for the tender feelings of those affected by those actions.

      However, personally, I still am not comfortable with any use of the Sacrament Meeting for the making of any outward statements, of any kind, other than the administration of the sacrament as commanded by the Lord.

  7. Kathryn, I respect that, but for myself, I decided that wearing pants should not be an issue. I don't plan on making it one. I hope no one else makes it one either.

    I think we make statements all the time, and those statements aren't generally seen as a big deal, because they're just part of life (statements about where we shop, what colors we wear, how we do our hair or makeup, or don't do our hair or makeup). I don't see this statement as much different.

    I did grow up with a dad who wore a red blazer to church whenever the UofU basketball team won though, so perhaps I'm just conditioned to not see this kind of a statement as a big deal. :)

    I do wish that more people would have felt like you about statement making during the election though. :)

  8. I care about sisters wearing pants or slacks to church. Our behavior and manners seem to be better when we are dressed in appropriate clothing. And by wearing pants now we give the next generation permission to wear blue jeans, with rips and fraying edges; after all who cares. Sister Julie Beck told about a question she received about wearing nylons to church and was asked to speak to a group of Young Women. She told this story at BYU Women's Conference in 2004 or 2005 (I can't remember now). Anyway, she began by talking to the YW about the Atonement and the sacredness of the ordinance of the Sacrament. She explained that she loved wearing capris and flip-flops, but that when she dressed for Sacrament Meeting it was as if she was going to meet the Savior and she wanted to be dressed in her best from her head to her toe so she would feel comfortable in that sacred meeting. She didn't have to say anything like "You should" or You ought to", she just bore her testimony to those girls about the importance of the meeting and the Atonement and such. The girls recognized the truths they were being taught and they ALL came to church the next Sunday wearing pretty outfits complete with nylons and shoes. We aren't supposed to be commanded in all things. That is too pharisaic. But there is certainly nothing wrong about keeping our cultural standard of "Sunday dress" for Sacrament Meeting. Aren't we supposed to be a peculiar people because we have a royal priesthood? Why do some keep one foot in the world and want to follow worldly standards of not only fashion but of "equality." I prefer the equality of the celestial standard and as long as the leaders of the church (Auxiliary General Presidencies) wear dresses to church so will I.

    1. I agree, Rozy, there is nothing wrong at all with the cultural standard. But we need to remember that there is still no official direction on this issue and therefore we need to exercise charity when others make decisions that we may not agree with.

      With that said, may I reemphasize that this post is not about pants. It is about the use of our Sacrament Meeting as a place to demonstrate, which I feel is completely inappropriate.

  9. Kathryn, I don't think that I was harsh at all. I simply invoked history. Whether or not women wear trousers to Sacrament Meeting or not, it's the thought that counts. Trying to somehow change the Savior's plan by wearing slacks in protest indicates that these protestors don't understand the program. Worship is about approaching our Father in Heaven in the best way that we can. It's all about attitude. (trousers or dresses)

    And the wrong attitude takes you in the wrong direction. Charity has nothing to do with that. Charity is our reaction to their reaction to the Gospel. I suggest unfeigned love.

    And Heavenly Father loves the 1/3 that followed Satan, but they made their bed...

  10. Thanks for this post. I feel the same way about the sacred nature of the Sacrament. In sacrament meeting we commemorate the Lord's Last Supper. I think that when we remember this, we will not be prone to holding protests or doing anything that would distract from the holiness of the event.

    I also love that you brought charity into the conversation. I really think that if each of us - no matter our opinion on the pants issue - were seeking to be truly charitable, then the conversation would be a lot different.

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  12. I don't even see how this is should be a demonstration. We are told to wear our Sunday best - the end. If our best is dress slacks, jeans or a dress, so be it. However, sacrament meeting will be devoid of spirit if church goers (men and women) are distracted by demonstrators. "Demonstrating" in sacrament meeting is NOT the right place and is selfish.