Is Mitt Romney's Underwear Sacred?
Inquiring minds want to know: What kind of underwear does Mitt Romney wear?
At least that is what some members of the press think we need to know. A reporter asked him that very question recently. She said she felt embarrassed asking him, and he refused to answer, saying it was a personal matter, so she quickly moved on to the next question.
What does it matter what kind of underwear Republican Presidential Candidate Romney wears? Well it doesn't matter at all, to me personally, as I'm sure it didn't to the reporter. What it comes down to, is the issue of Mormon under-garments. What's it all about? What do Mormons believe about it? Does Romney share those beliefs? Does it even matter if he does?
Religions often use clothing choices to set their membership apart from other people. The reporter who asked him that question may have felt compelled to ask it, because as a candidate for President, Romney is setting himself up as a leader of our society. If he chooses to set himself apart in this particular way that Mormons do, people will naturally have questions about that.
When that reporter asked that question, I could see that she put Romney in a difficult position. By refusing to talk about it, it could seem like he was hiding something. Yet if he did agree to talk about it, it would have seemed undignified for a presidential candidate to be answering questions about his underwear to a reporter. It would also open the door for more awkward personal questions that might compromise his dignity. What's a Mormon presidential hopeful to do?
According to the blog Mormon Coffee, it seems that Mitt has found the answer. Here's a quote:
[...] Romney responds more generally when asked if he has participated in an endowment ceremony, in which men and women take vows of secrecy about temple rites and of obedience to the Lord, and begin the daily practice of wearing a sacred "temple garment" resembling abbreviated long underwear.
"I do attend the temple of my church...and people can learn about that by contacting the church," he says, adding: "I'm sure on the Internet you can find every single aspect of what's entailed." [...]
He says anyone who wants to know can look it up on the web. That is exactly what I have done. Here are some answers I've found:
The photo above is from Wikipedia, and shows samples of the underwear (more respectfully referred to by Mormons as "garments"). This is an older, pre 1979 style. I'm told contemporary garments look more modern. The genuine articles are much sought after on E-Bay, apparently. You can't buy them in stores. The Wiki link has more information about the symbols, which aren't obvious in the photo.
In high school I had a friend who converted to Mormonism, and she took me to attend their services for a while. I did the whole thing with talking to the Missionaries, reading the Book of Mormon, etc. I also did some research at the library... and ultimately concluded that the Mormon religion was not for me.
Yet with all that, I didn't know about the special underwear. Maybe that's something they only tell you about after you join. Anyhow, I did learn a few things from this web site: www.mormon-underwear.com. An excerpt:
[...] If you look at a pair of garments, there is nothing physically special about them. They are made from a variety of light-weight fabrics, and most garments are white. (There are some special colored garments that can be worn by members of the armed services, but for the vast majority of Mormons, garments are always white.) The white color symbolizes purity and the length and cut of the garment helps assure modesty in dress and appearance. The garment bears several simple marks related to gospel principles of obedience, truth, and discipleship in Christ.
The meaning attached to the garment by devout Mormons transcends the fabric and design used to create the garment. It is sacred to the wearer not for what it is, but for what it represents. It reminds the wearer of the continuing need for repentance and obedience to God, the need to honor binding covenants voluntarily made in the temple, and the need to cherish and share truth and virtue in our daily living. By so doing, the garment helps the wearer to focus his or her life on Jesus Christ and to thereby lay claim on the blessings promised to those who do so. [...]
The underwear is not supposed to show when you are dressed, so I guess that is maybe why you never see Marie Osmond at a party wearing a gown-less evening strap like a Hollywood tramp. The garments favor modesty.
On other sites around the internet, I read that there are stories about how some Mormons believe the underwear kind of "magically" protects them. Conversely, some overzealous evangelicals make wild claims against the underwear, calling it Satanic, and claim inaccurately that Mormons never take their underwear off, even when bathing. Don't believe everything you read. Just like other people, they take them off for sports, swimming, bathing, and sex.
There is supposedly a special "sports" version for athletes that's for sale on e-bay. I didn't confirm it, because ... I really don't care. This isn't a big issue, nor should it be.
Still want to know more? Check out Mormon Underwear FAQs.
I've rewritten this post, because I was originally too glib regarding the subject matter, and thus needlessly offended some people, which was not my intention. If I caused offense, I apologize.
I assumed that anyone reading this post would click on the embedded links. The first link is to an earlier post I did about Mitt Romney's health care initiatives in Massachusetts, and a glimpse at his presidential aspirations.
The other links are to what I believe to be MORMON sources that are explanations about the garments. The Wikipedia link is not a Mormon source, but in a secular way fits in with what the Mormon sources say. I hope it clears up some misconceptions and rumors about the meaning of Mormon garments.
Whether Mormonism is a religion or a cult is a contentious topic for some. It's also something people can decide for themselves; the topic is too big to tackle here, and is a distraction from the original purpose of this post. That purpose is to ask: Will Romney's Mormonism be an issue with the voters, and should it be?
I used the underwear as an example of this, since a reporter had already broached the subject, and it seemed likely to come up again. For me, it's not an issue. I'm not religious myself, and I find many people's religious beliefs a bit strange. But I tolerate religion as a person's personal choice. As long as they don't use it as a weapon to attack me with, I'm fine with it.
Romney being a Mormon is no different to me than being a Catholic, a Protestant, a Hindu or anything else. I'm not voting for a religion, I'm voting for the best candidate to do a job. I think Mitt Romney has great potential for the job position he is seeking, and should be given every serious consideration. We don't worry about Mormons holding other positions in our government and society, and this should be no different.
I have known many Mormons since moving out West. I may not personally care much for their religion, but have found them to be mostly very friendly, likable people, who are very family and children oriented. I've always found that quality admirable. They are often fine patriots and upstanding citizens.
We shall have many important things to consider in this coming election year. If Mitt expects to win, clearly he has to gain the trust and confidence of non-Mormons, even people who actively dislike that religion. The best way to do that is to dispel their fears. Hopefully the information here will contribute to doing just that.
Pressure on Romney to firmly address Mormon faith
The Real Mitt Romney? Is he electable?