Why I’ll Be Wearing Pants to Church on December 15th

Dec 06, 13 Why I’ll Be Wearing Pants to Church on December 15th

The Second Annual Wear Pants to Church Day is on December 15th.  Women are invited to wear pants or purple or both.  Men are invited to wear purple. (And pants!)

Let me state clearly that, just like last year, this is not a protest.  I cannot say this emphatically enough.

This is not a protest.

It is not political.  It is not angry. It will not distract in any way from the worship of the day by any measure on our parts.

It is an action of inclusivity and love.  It is like a reverse bat signal.  Instead of asking for help, we’re offering it.  It is a beacon.   It is an action beacon of love and welcoming.

Last year I think we were all a little surprised out how vitriolic the response to Pants Day was.  There were lots of people participating for lots of different reasons, but many of us joined in because of the reaction that the organization got on the internet.  There was so much hatred and offensiveness coming from those who opposed the idea, that it shocked me into participating, even when I had initially been unsure about it.  I was so glad I did it, in the end.  And I’ve continued to wear pants to church whenever I felt like it.  (So comfortable and convenient with young children to wrestle!)

But, I will especially be wearing pants on December 15th, because I, again, want to show solidarity.  I want it to be a symbol of the fact that I firmly believe there is room for everyone in the pews at church on Sunday.

I believe there is room for my LBGT brothers and sisters and their families.

I believe there is room for single brothers and sisters.

I believe there is room for women who feel devalued by the patriarchy of the church.

I believe there is room for women who seek priesthood ordination.

I believe there is room for single parents.

I believe there is room for politically diverse Mormons.

I believe there is room for divorced members.

I believe there is room for the poor and down trodden.

I believe there is room for couples struggling with infertility.

I believe there is room for couples who have chosen not to have children.

I believe there is room for “Cafeteria Mormons” who can’t swallow all the doctrine but find value in some of it.

I believe there is room for members who struggle with the history of the church.

I believe that there is room in the pews at church for anyone who has ever left the church because they felt marginalized, unloved, unwelcome, invisible.

I will be wearing pants on December 15th as a beacon to these people, that they will know there is room for them at church on Sunday, in the pew next to me.

If you feel the same, please join us.

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Leah Marie has lived all over the country, and currently resides in Virginia, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She earned a BA in Political Science at BYU, and a Masters in Public Administration at Boise State. She works part time as an adjunct professor of politics and is also a Certified Lactation Counselor. She is wife to an English professor, and mother to 3 beautiful boys.

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56 Comments

  1. Laurie Stearmer /

    Curious — isn’t the whole idea of wearing dresses and suits to church so we can show the Lord we are willing to be at our best for Him? It’s what I teach my kids, right? What about the temple? Isn’t that why we dress up for the 2 minutes going into the temple? I still don’t understand how this shows solidarity. People can come in their best, and if pants is all they have that is their best, then fine. But to do it for any other reason — distracting. People may or may not agree, but it is how I feel. I’m by best for the Lord, and if we are all on that same page, then there is not a need for a pants at church day.

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    • Leah Marie Silverman /

      That’s the thing Laurie. We are not all on the same page. Judgement and exclusivity are huge problems in the LDS church. This is a simple measure (dresses as the standard for women is archaic, there is nothing wrong with wearing nice pants) that is meant as an invitation of love. If you don’t understand how that shows solidarity, I’m not sure how else to explain it to you.

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      • Eglantine /

        What church do you go to hon? You know a lot of the judgement you think you feel is in your head right? I was a very rebellious promiscuous girl and though the LDS church was all judgey and backwards. Then when my life hit rock bottom, I decided to give the church another chance and in the process found the Lord. I realized that all the “judgey” Mormons were in my head. Even though my reputation was horrible the ward welcomed me with open arms and I never felt so much love. A few years later when I went to the temple, “judgey” Mormons took time out of their day to support me in the temple and I felt like a princess. I realized that my pride blinded me to the truth. Once I humbled myself and relied on the Lord, I understood why I went to church. Sure there are judgey people, but I don’t go to church for them. I wear a dress proudly, I had enough of that feminist crap and saw the reality if you live it to its conclusion. It is a life of darkness, anger, and lonliness. If you want to head down that path, go ahead. But the Lord always has his hand extended waiting for us to make it back on the path of righteousness. Wearing pants isn’t a sin, but what it represents is. You are being your own Lord, sticking your nose up as if you know better how to run the Lord’s church. I hope you never end up in the dark, alone on the street near death from drugs as I was, literally or figuratively. We have enough haughty women, the world needs more faith and humility.

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        • Miriam /

          How kind. How Christ-like.

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        • Your condescending tone and your refusal to acknowledge that people may have had painful experiences different than your own indicates that you, at least in this moment *are* “one of those “judgy” Mormons.” Rather than tell people they are only imaging it (and they are not, since I know more than one who was criticized directly, even having their temple recommend threatened, over PANTS), try to stretch your understanding a bit and see where they are coming from. That’s what Christ did for us when he suffered in the garden. I guess he expects us to try and do the same.

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      • Leah, please STOP generalizing. Clearly there is an issue where you live. Not all wards and branches are like this. Travel around to other countries and visit other wards and branches and you will be amazed at how truly excepting Christlike individuals can be. Sorry if I’ve made harsh comments, I know you are trying to be supportive of everyone but I don’t think this is the way.

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        • Um, clearly YOU have not seen an issue where YOU live, and your attempt to generalize your own experience and apply it to everyone when there are many voices saying that yes, there is a problem, is illogical and hypocritical.

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          • That is exactly what this “cause” is doing, generalizing. It is saying that the entire church has an issue, I am saying that it does NOT. Like I mentioned in another comment, I myself fit into some of these categories and I am not treated differently, because of it. So yes, where I live things are different, it is very, very diverse.

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      • Leah, I think it would help if you provided some solid statistics on how judgement and exclusivity are a problem in the LDS church. What do you mean by these terms? Have you seen it in every ward you’ve attend over a period of time? Have you attended several wards, stakes outside your city, state or country? I know it seems some of us are “blind” to your cause but if we are, then show us the the light with proper stats and examples.

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    • Leah Marie Silverman /

      Also, if it is distracting to you, then you need to examine in yourself why that is. There is no reason that a woman sitting quietly in church should be distracting, just because she is in pants.

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    • Miriam /

      I wear pants to the temple. The workers there have been told to welcome EVERYONE with a valid recommend, regardless of how they are dressed.

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    • Go through your topical guide and find every scriptural reference to clothing, apparel, appearance, etc. Come back and tell me how many of them talk about the importance of dressing up for God, and now many talk about the wickedness of people snubbing others because of the way they are dressed, spending money on fine clothing, building hedges around the law,and getting so caught up in the letter of the law that they no longer follow it in spirit.

      To save you time, I’ll give you a tally. 0 scriptures talk about God needing people to be dressed up to show respect. Over and over and over again, the scriptures decry those who look down on people who don’t come to church in the “right” clothing and much, much more. It is very clear. It is very clear that people who find others not dressing the “right” way to be “distracting” are the ones with the problem.

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  2. Jared Mooney
    Jared Mooney /

    Amen to all.

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  3. Awesome! I’ll be there.

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  4. This is probably the sillest things I’ve ever heard of. No one cares…go home.

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  5. Great post! Yours is the post I shared on my wall to announce my attendance. I love how you kept it short, simple, and focused on being loving and inclusive.

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  6. Live and Let Live /

    I am always amazed when people feel it’s acceptable to take their individual experiences and feelings and project them on others. “What church do you go to hon? You know a lot of that judgement you think you feel is in your head, right?” Wow…what a completely invalidating and condescending start to your post, Eglantine. How presumptuous of you to assume you know what she’s feeling/thinking better than she does. I wasn’t going to comment, but I just get so upset when people make the “I don’t feel/experience this, therefore, YOU don’t feel/experience this” argument. Why must we invalidate the experiences of others just because they are different than our own?
    “We have enough haughty women, the world needs more faith and humility.” Amen to that, sista! And what better way to show faith and humility than to tear down another’s attempt to be faithful and supportive in her own way, right? *sigh* I wish we could all just live and let live, acknowledge that we don’t know the first thing about what is going on inside the heads and hearts of others, trust that each person is doing his/her very best, and not allow others’ differences to make us feel threatened. Our world, and specifically our church, could benefit from being more welcoming and inclusive of others.

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  7. Allison /

    These are the words of my heart. Thank you for writing this post! I shared it on Facebook to announce my participation, and, unlike last year, I have only had positive responses, including two friends who said they understand better now what this event is all about and will be wearing pants, too. You articulate very well what is at the heart of it, and I thank you for that. I, too, believe there is room for EVERYONE in the Church.

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  8. But there is room! Christ welcomes all to come unto Him, no matter what page we are on. I know many of all your mentioned categories that come & are welcomed at church so we may all be perfected by His gospel. This is silly & I will be wearing anything BUT purple & pants.

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  9. Heather Lee /

    What are some better ways to show care for those who may feel marginalized? Sit next to them at church. Be a genuine friend to the people you visit teach. Pray about who needs your love and what to say to them. Treat others like Jesus would. Smile. There are many ways to show that you care. If I were feeling marginalized, seeing someone wearing pants wouldn’t make me feel any better. But a kind word and a smile go a long way. Next Sunday, I will wear my dress like normal and I will try to be a good Christian.

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    • Thank you for your post. I fell the same.

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    • YOU don’t need to see someone wearing pants. But not everyone is you. Did you know many women last year reported getting whispered thank yous and even thank you notes from people saying they’d always felt awkward because they were different, but seeing women wearing pants to church helped? And what about L. Tom Perry’s wife, Virginia Perry, who sat with a visitor who came in jeans and a t-shirt, and them wore jeans and a t-shirt to church next week s the woman would feel more comfortable? Are you saying she did the wrong thing?

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      • Makayla /

        I think Sister Perry is a truly wonderful example. She did something kind for someone else. I love that particular story about her. But what I also like about it is that she did it without fanfare. Without publicity. Without creating a special event for it. She didn’t do it to show how accepting she was or how much she supported any of the groups mentioned in this article (though I’m sure she is aware of and concerned for those of us who fall in multiple of those categories). She just did it. She looked at someone else, saw a need, and did something kind.

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  10. Michael B. /

    Interesting. My Institute teacher was a mission president in Argentina. The women there wore the best they had. Which was jeans. We are told to wear the best we have as if we were going to go into a personal meeting with the Lord. If pants is the best then that is the best. I would think it better if a person going to church only had pants wouldn’t it be nice to go shopping with them to get them a dress rather than just showing up in pants yourself? I guess it would be on the girl/woman maybe they want to get a dress, but don’t have the funds available at the moment? If they are a convert maybe they only have immodest dresses, and pants are the best dress clothes they have that are modest. To put it another way if you saw someone in church that looked like they were starving (NOT ON FAST SUNDAY) would you say to them since I don’t you to feel left out I’ll skip meals too. Or you could go with them shopping for food to feed them, or cook meals for them and bring it over or go to the bishop and bring the issue to light. I’ve had to do this with a friend because he lost his job, but he didn’t want to ask for food from the bishop because of his pride. He was living off steamed cabbage for a few days. Aren’t we instructed to feed the hungry, and cloth the naked? I mean this metaphorically as you would help so and so get church clothes. I have a friend that just returned to the church after three years, and he asked to borrow some extra church clothes since he didn’t have any. It just seems to me that this isn’t a very productive way to help. I would find out the reason why they only have jeans or dress pants or shorts. Then I would see if they were interested in getting some, and help them out. Maybe the person male or female would rather have dress clothes, and then sees people dressing like them to make fun of them. Just some thoughts.

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    • Hedgehog /

      So… I’ve yet to fathom why a dress (or skirt) is somehow considered to be better than pants. Why is that?
      Wouldn’t it be somewhat patronising frankly, to assume that someone is wearing pants because they can’t afford a dress or skirt. Quite apart from the fact that there are pants that can cost rather more than some dresses or skirts, it is also a issue of personal taste, comfort etc… “Dress” pants are precisely that, dressy. How is that not wearing your best?

      Further still, I am also disturbed by the idea that someone’s best (however poor that might be in your estimation), isn’t good enough for the Lord. Why should they feel the need to maintain an expensive wardrobe to attend church? Are you planning to clothe the entire family – replace that wardrobe when it wears out or no longer fits? Taking them shopping once, whilst appearing nice to do on the surface still sends subtle messages about what you feel they need to keep up with. Why should they have that pressure?

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    • I wear pants every Sunday, even though I have skirts in my closet, because I feel nicer in pants, because they make more sense for a mother with small children, more sense when it’s cold, because it REALLY shouldn’t matter, and because you never know when a visitor’s going to drop in and feel out of place because everyone’s wearing the same white shirt/black slacks/conservative tie or jumper/layered cardigan ensemble. With the “I’m a Mormon campaign, the church is clearly trying to steer public opinion away from the idea that you have to conform in order to be LDS. Why should church members insist on making their job harder by telling women they’d better not wear pants?

      And if I was too poor to afford a nice skirt, I’m sure I would be more embarrassed and put off by someone offering to buy me one so I would “look right” than I would be happy to have a skirt.

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  11. As someone who fits into some of these categories. I feel HIGHLY OFFENDED. Why are you singling me out? Telling me I am different from everybody, because of my GOD GIVEN challenges and struggles? Thanks for making me feel like an outsider! This is a church and gospel for all NO MATTER WHAT! There is obviously a problem with YOU or your WARD if you are not naturally accepting of that. My branch is extremely diverse and there is no need for such a stance, how insulting. I am loved and valued for who I am by the Savior and my brothers and sisters. Plenty women wear pants in my branch for their own reason and they are not judged. Wearing pants will NOT make people feel welcome or accepted., being a good friend, home teacher or visiting teacher ALWAYS is what will make the difference. If you can’t see that I feel bad for you. Brothers and Sisters that fit into these “categories” I don’t care I’ll love you either way and so will He!

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    • It’s really unclear to me why you are so insulted. Would you mind explaining what you mean by “categories” in reference to this post? Also, it is good to note that while you may not have experienced a single difficulty in your branch, that leaves many other people in your branch, and many, many, many branches and wards the world over, that you have never visited. Could you possibly take the hundreds (and last year, thousands) of people participating in this even at their word when they say that they have indeed seen problems? Believe me, hanging around talking about pants online is not the thing we would prefer to use our time on. We’re doing it because it’s important, not because we think this is fun.

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      • Heidi you are 100% right, I am WRONG to feel offended. Sorry to have offended you. This cause has already made a difference in my life. It has taught me that the most important thing is to Love everyone, even when you don’t understand them. I may not wear pants to church but I will love everyone who walks into that building and be their friend, just like my branch does with me, I will do the same. It all goes back to the greatest commandment “love one another”. I feel really dumb feeling offended by all this, so not Christlike.

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  12. Wouldn’t this be more effective if men wore skirts? I mean that is in line with what you guys are trying to do here right?

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  13. Wear whatever you want to wear. Just come and sit in the pews with the rest of us sinners. And remember that is what we all are. Sinners who are attending in order to receive Grace from the Lord.

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  14. Clinton Martinez /

    “it is not a protest” but it clearly is. Why don’t you quietly just wear pants to church? Why put the word out? why seek out others? …oh there are “issues” people are having that you want to join with them on….kinda like a protest…

    NO not kinda like

    It is one

    …and it is a distraction and it is making church about something other than the gospel. Your clothes do not matter, I completely agree, wear what you want. Bringing attention to your agenda and using church attendance and attire is despicable!

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    • Despicable? I suggest reading up on the sex trade, rape as a weapon of war, and the forced and underpaid labor that produces much of what we use in the US from day to day, if you want to see despicable. I think some perspective is needed.

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      • Clinton Martinez /

        You have no credibility. Those acts are atrocities. You bring them up because you are trying to distract from the facts. And that is it is a protest plain and simple. If it was not a protest, there would be no need to seek out others to bring more attention the agenda.

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  15. Peyton Manning /

    I don’t understand. Who said women can’t wear pants? Why do you have to have a ‘day’ for it? If you want to wear pants, wear them all the time. Who cares.

    Also, why can’t men wear a dress or skirt to this? Seriously. If the goal is to overcome stereotypes and standards, then why can’t men overcome the standard of dress for them by doing this? Why do they have to wear purple? Or it could be as simple as not wearing a tie, a suit, or wearing a shirt other than white! (the horror) Men to are forced to a certain standard. They have every right to protest (I know it’s not a protest) that standard!

    I really see no reason to protest. Wear what you would like, no one really cares that much. You may argue different, but I don’t believe people care that much. Especially in the millennial generation. Younger church members are very tolerant and the intolerance of the church is grossly overstated. The desire to be offended is greater than the actual offense.

    There are my two cents. I don’t expect a response. Go Broncos!

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  16. pieface /

    I gotta say the “I don’t feel/experience/see this, therefore it DOES NOT EXIST” arguments are making my head hurt, and are a perfect example of what the event is trying to bring to light. People DO hurt, and DO feel marginalized, and telling them that they aren’t hurting or it’s all in their heads is like telling a starving person they’re just imagining they are hungry because a lot of other people have food, so clearly everyone is full.

    For those who claim that this is distracting from the purpose of church, by all means, reach out to those participating and ask them how you can help them feel included. That IS the Gospel. Telling them they’re doing it wrong is pretty hypocritical. Just because they are acknowledging their pain in a way you aren’t comfortable with doesn’t make the need any less valid or your love for them any less important. Pride goes both ways.

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  17. “I fear change, and will keep my bushes.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoMMmZ6CFO0

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  18. I’ve made a lot of comments today, but I feel strongly now that there is no need to be offended by this cause, just be Christlike people, even when you feel all alone in this world, which happens to everyone at some point in their life. December 15th should just be another day to love everyone. I think I’ll just give everyone I see a big hug : )

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  19. Thank you for this post. I fit in quite well at church. I was born in the church, baptized at 8. I served a mission and married in the temple. I have three children. But sometimes, even listening to general conference, and more often listening to comments at church, I feel like I don’t fit in. I think differently than others. I feel like I have to look and act a certain way or someone is going to try and change me. I wore pants last year mainly in an effort to show support to a friend, but since then I have come to understand more profoundly what she was feeling. It surprised me how hard it was for me to do something as simple as wear a pair of pants to church. There is room for all in this church. If wearing pants one Sunday can show even one person that I am there to reach out to those who feel like they don’t quite fit in then I am happy to do it. I loved being able to stand up for one moment and say “I am different and that is ok”.

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    • Jessica /

      It does rather seem as if God has pitched us a really nice big tent and we all think we have to crowd into one little part of it, doesn’t it?

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  20. Jennifer /

    Jared Mooney,

    Why is a dress automatically “the best” for women? Can’t fancy dress pants be equally respectful of God?

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  21. Sarah Collett
    Sarah Collett /

    The backlash is magnifying how much conflict Mormons feel when our culture and groupthink is questioned. We cant change anything without the discomfort of understanding our mistakes and failures. I welcome the critism because it means people are feeling cognitive dissonance and are facing issues they wouldnt otherwise. First the pendulum swings to the side that is closest to our personal views in an effort to protect us from the scary unknown but then surely it will swi.g the itherway

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  22. Sarah Collett
    Sarah Collett /

    (con’t) swing the other way looking for equilibrium. We are in the right track when we struggle together. The Book of Mormom is clear that opposition is an important part of spiritual growth. We are in trouble when nothing challenges us. Growth stops. I wore pants last year and will again and I suspect my ward will be as welcoming as they were last year and it will force us to come together over differences.

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  23. Lori Embree /

    They’re just pants. Just. Pants. And just come. :-)

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  24. Max Powers /

    Who really cares…pants or not pants, kilt or skirt, I am just happy to see people at church. Such a lot of fussing about this.

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    • pieface /

      What I think is ironic is that the whole pants-event last year would not have even been a huge fuss had it not been for all the people telling everyone it wasn’t a fuss and making sure they knew it. I don’t sense malice in your comment so please don’t read me the wrong way-it just reminded me of the people who repeatedly would comment on Facebook “THIS ISN’T IMPORTANT! I AM GOING TO STAY ONLINE ALL DAY TO TELL YOU HOW UNIMPORTANT THIS IS!”

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      • Max Powers /

        Yep no malice intended at all. Come in pants, come in skirts, come in jeans, just come to church. Happy to see everyone there on a given Sunday. I have enough of my own problems, sins, issues, etc. to spend my time thinking someone else’s are are worse than mine. Just because I might look like a “traditional mormon” doesn’t raise my standing before God any more than someone who shows up in jeans or whatever else. They might be a much better person than I am altogether.

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  25. I was on board until I read your post, which made me angry in its arrogance. As someone who falls into several of your categories, I resent you feeling like you can speak on my behalf or represent me. *I* don’t want your solidarity or your “non-protest” protest.

    As a man, I don’t have any option BUT to wear pants, or I’d opt out.

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    • Leah Marie Silverman /

      Did it occur to you that *I* might belong to several of those categories? Perhaps you are the arrogant one, assuming that I was speaking on your behalf. I wasn’t actually speaking for anyone. This message is just one of inclusion. Or perhaps I was arrogant to assume you wanted to be included?

      If you don’t want me to think there is room in the pews for you, I’m willing to make an exception. I’m tired of jerks.

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