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

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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.

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