Wednesday, February 14, 2007

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:

Mormon Garments?

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: 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.

Related Links:

Pressure on Romney to firmly address Mormon faith

The Real Mitt Romney? Is he electable?


Anonymous said...

People who are against Romney because of his religion suffer from the 3 “ances”:

IgnorANCE, ArrogANCE and IntolerANCE!

Chas, your prejudices and bigotry aside, Romney is the most qualified candidate - in either party - to be President!

SERIOUSLY, if I were to do a “line-up” of all the serious presidential candidates (Obama, Edwards, Hillary (or Billary? - j/k) McCain, Giuliani and Romney) here’s my - near best - objective analysis:

Choice: Romney
Believe it or not, in today’s world of tv/media obsession, “being kind to the camera” is a huge plus! And with the indisputable impact and role of the media in the election outcomes, I’d give the edge to Romney. By the way, if you think looks, are not important, then why all the fuss about the phrase: “looks presidential/looks like a president”?

2. INTELLIGENCE based on educational and academic achievements:
Choice: Romney - I’d dare anyone to challenge this one! (For those who do not know about Romney’s educational background, please check it out, it’s all over the ‘Net.)

Choice: Romney. He has more experience, than any other candidate, both in the private and public sectors, which I must add, is an absolute must for a leader, especially of the US being the leader in democracy and capitalism. He was a CEO of a successful venture capital firm and was governor*. He was also asked to help rescue the 2002 Winter Olympics which was a SUCCESS! ($100 million profit). The national debt/deficit needs to be controlled if not eliminated and Romney has the experience to do that.

Choice: Definitely Romney
Need I say more? Integrity, clean, great family, doesn’t smoke or drink, etc., etc.,

Choice: Romney (sorry Obama, Romney has addressed many more varieties of audiences through his private and public experience ). This is an indispensable skill for a president. By the way, I can’t wait for the debates to begin.

Choice: Romney
Need I list them? - ok, Health care, successful business ventures, balanced budgets, Winter Olympics, etc., etc., Through his accomplishments, he has acquired the necessary experience to be effective as president.

Choice: I’ll give the edge to the Senators
But note also, that Romney through his global business experience and deals, as well as being a smart person himself, Romney can easily outdo the senators in certain areas. He is a great communicator and will be an asset in international negotiations. He also has excellent knowledge and understanding of the world (nations and countries).

Edge: Romney
He headed the 2002 Winter Olympics and was in charge of security, especially a few months after 9-11. Romney was also a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC).

No other candidate had the experience of overseeing a huge security force and undertaking as Romney during the Olympics.

Now, all politics and subjectivity aside, based on the above basic and most essential requirements for leadership, and presidential qualifications, who clearly has the advantage to become an effective president?

MITT ROMNEY! (After all the title: “MR President” already has his initials!)

Again, off all the candidates, Romney has the knowledge, skills, experience and character to become the next president.

*Having been the governor of a liberal/democratic state, Romney will, therefore, be the best and effective president if by 2008 (and beyond), the Democrats still have the majority in both houses. Romney will be effective in such a “hostile” and divided environment - a Democrat dominated one! He would say: “been there, done that” (as it was in Massachusetts). Hence, no other candidate has had such an EXECUTIVE experience as Romney.

Dionne said...

Mormonism is a cult but there are so many different offshoots. The main denominations don't believe in polygamy anymore but many of the offshoots do. I get the impression that Romney doesn't follow any of the Mormon practices very strictly, he seems to be mostly a mormon in name only. Mormons are pretty legalistic and strict and he doesn't appear to be that at all. I have a feeling he grew up mormon and so he still calls himself that. Just my impressions.

Chas said...


You're right that there are different kinds of Mormons. I don't know where Romney stands with his religion, but I'm sure if he becomes a serious contender, people will be looking at that. And a lot of other stuff. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Actually my impression of Romney is that he is a very normal Mormon. But smarter than average. (although most Mormons I know are very smart people - I know a fair number of mormons and very few of them do not have a college degree) Mormons are strict on things like no drinking, no smoking etc... And they are pretty good about paying 10% of their income to the church as tithing. But for the most part you're free as a mormon to hold your own opinions, and you're encouraged to get all the education you can. Romney got his JD/MBA at Harvard. They tend to be a lot more pragmatic on policy issues, and although they vote pretty in line with Evangelical christians don't have the hard core blinders on in regards to issues like abortion. Mitt doesn't hate gay people, and understands the pro-choice arguments on the same terms as liberals understand them. I think that makes him the best candidate for conservatives. I hope he gets the nomination, and picks Huckabee as VP. Because Huckabee is pretty cool, but doesn't have near the brains that Romney has.

Anonymous said...

Religious clothing is nothing new. The unique twist with Mormons is that it's underwear as opposed to outerwear. That freaks out a lot of people. One dimension is that it can come off as being sneaky. Mormons will say it's "sacred" as opposed to to "secret", but in actuality I think it's both. If it wasn't secret Mormon would be more willing to talk about it openly.

FWIW, here's another quick Mormon underwear primer:

Anonymous said...

Those pictures aren't anything like the garments I wear. I've never seen any garments like it. (I'm LDS.) Garments really look more like this.

Chas said...

The photo I published is all over the internet as authentic Mormon underwear, yet I could not find a reliable link as to it's source.

On one forum I read that the photo is from two apostate Mormons, who posed for it in their own Mormon underwear. However I cannot confirm that.

If it is authentic, then it could still be an older style, I couldn't say.

I don't understand the controversy of showing photos of the underwear. Presumably, in the old days before modern washer-dryers existed, Mormons washed their underwear and hung it outside on the clothes line to dry? Did they worry that non-Mormon neighbors would see it?

If there is nothing to hide, then hide nothing.

Anonymous said...

The Latter-day Saint garment of the Holy Priesthood, referred to by detractors as “magic underwear,” is a symbol of an inward commitment to Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a lay clergy and this garment of the Holy Priesthood is basically clergy clothing. The garment could be could be compared to the robes that a Catholic priest wears or a Jewish yamika or a pastor’s outfit. It privately encourages modesty in dress and is a reminder to those who wear it of covenants made to God and promises to one’s spouse about staying chaste and honest and Christlike. Someone wearing these underwear would be very unlikely to cheat on their spouse.

Anonymous said...

I am member of the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints and I somehow came across this this website and I wish that would not have, all I can say is whoever posted those photos you are a very immature person do you not have better things to do with your time than worrying about the underclothes that the LDS people wear? the Temple Garment is something that I hold sacred not secret there is a difference. The temple garment to me is a reminder of the promises that I have made and that I would keep all of gods commandents and that I would live a life that would be pleasing to him. I know that I am not perfect and I'm not saying my temple garment is going to make me perfect it's just reminder of the promises we have made and do our best to keep. I'm not angry with you and I pray that you can take the time for yourself and see what LDS church is all about instead of listening to other people find out yourself! you know what they say about ignorance. But seriously I do believe you have better things to do with your time than tearing down another persons religon and beliefs. I myself don't care what religon you belong to if it makes you better person and a god fearing person and a respecter of all people and doing good to all that is what religon is for to help draw ourselves closer to God and to his son Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

Mormon Garments? i didn't even know about this. I'm writing a paper about the Mormon religion and i wanted to thank you because this has helped me so so much!

Cheers and thanks again,

Anonymous said...

Well, I'll tell ya, I don't think it matters what people wear for outer or undergarments; what matters is what is in their heart. I know some garment-wearing Mormons who are vicious and dishonest. The women are the biggest bunch of mean gossips I've ever encountered in my life, and 2 Mormons robbed me blind. And they signed a document saying they won't watch any R rated movies, which includes a movie like Blood Diamond which definitely has socially redeeming value, but they spend their time in front of the TV watching vampire and witch shows. GO FIGURE!