A Summary of the Wear Pants to Church Day Survey

I recently surveyed the participants of the Second Annual Wear Pants to Church Day to find out who they are and why they participated. In four days I received 573 responses. I’m not going to comment on the data or responses, as I think they speak for themselves.

Who participated in the Second Annual Wear Pants to Church Day?

  • Members of the church, who make up 96% of respondents
  • People who attend church regularly, with 74% of respondents attending every week or almost every week and a further 13% attending 2-3 times per month – just 5% of respondents do not attend church
  • Mostly young people, with 76% of respondents being 18-40 years old
  • Mostly women, who make up 86% of respondents
  • Lots of people from all over the US, representing 41 out of 50 states, but many individuals from other countries too, including Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, England, Germany, Japan, and Spain

How did these people participate?

  • 72% of female respondents wore pants to church
  • 46% of all respondents wore purple
  • 55% participated in online discussions about the event
  • 56% participated in real life conversations about the event
  • 32% followed online conversations about the event, but did not participate in them
  • 8% did not attend church but wore pants or purple anyway
  • 11% participated in some other way

What made these people want to participate?

“I believe church should be a safe space for all and I work to make it that way.”

“I did last year, and I loved feeling part of a community that welcomes everyone.”

“Observing last year’s hostile push back from “faithful” LDS members.”

“Joining in solidarity with my fellow sisters as well as my personal convictions about the need for more female inclusion in the LDS institutional church.”

“My daughter only wears pants and YW leaders always publicly make a point of announcing that dresses show respect for God. I wear pants about 1/2 the time regardless of pants day.”

“Because my church needs to have a visual reminder that there is diversity in its midst, and because I am a Mormon Feminist, and because I want people in my area who might feel marginalized to see someone else embracing Sunday attendance on her own terms.”

“I knew it was important for me to be more honest in my ward about how I feel about these issues. I want to belong to a church that practices inclusion and love.”

“Gender issues within the LDS church community and LDS doctrine that I disagree with, and have seen work to make people feel unwelcome and excluded.”

“I love feminism and feminist thinkers.”

“A desire to claim the Mormon Feminist community as an important part of my life; a desire to challenge cultural assumptions; a desire to show other members that I’m a little kooky and would therefore be more accepting of them; a desire to take small risks in my life to become more courageous and less worried about what people think of me. I’ll also say that I spent time in prayer and contemplation trying to know if God was on board with my decision to wear pants, and I got the clear spiritual prompting that it was a good thing to do.”

“I fear that we, as a culture, have become far too focused on how people look rather than who they are, namely children of God.”

“Because I want people to know everyone is accepted and too many times people confuse social convention with doctrine.”

“Everyone should feel welcome regardless of gender, sexual preference, financial standing, or arbitrary cultural clothing standards.”

“I want people to talk and reveal OPENLY the sexist nature of the church.”

“I wanted to make a stand for equality and inclusiveness and diversity and acceptance. Also I am inspired by the Church’s official statement -Sunday best. they don’t define it for me, therefore it is my choice.”

“The continued absence of women’s voices in my church.”

“To show my belief that my wife and daughters – and other women in the church – are as valuable and capable as the men.”

“I resigned over inequities with females in the church.”

“I participated last year because of all the negative comments and even death threats made to Stephanie Lauritzen. I wanted to participate again this year. And actually have been wearing pants occasionally ever since last year.”

“I care deeply about making Mormonism a welcoming place for people with diverse views, and this is a way to show my commitment to being the change I want to see in the church.”

“I have seen members treated poorly by other members because of their clothes.”

“There are many sexist cultural practices that need to change in the church.”

“I have nice pants for work and always wished that I could wear them to church, but my husband forbade it and I was too shy about what ward members would think. Last year Pants Day helped me break out of those restrictions. This year I wanted to wear pants more for others–so others would see me and not feel alone even if they were keeping their worries hidden.”

“It’s a ridiculous cultural norm that is distracting from learning the gospel. As a new convert in 2000, I took several weird looks when I wore slacks to church meetings on Sunday and was told ‘women don’t wear pants to church.’ To me, this just doesn’t make sense. What I wear has absolutely no connection to my relationship with the Saviour or my ability to worship. It matters not to the Savior how I dress when I approach Him in prayer.”

“To support women who struggle in the LDS church.”

How did the participants feel about their participation?

87% of respondents reported having a “Positive” or “Very Positive” experience with Wear Pants to Church Day. Just 1% reported having a “Negative” experience and no respondents reported a “Very Negative” experience.

“I felt like I would be judged because I was the only one who would have in my ward, so I only wore purple.”

“I felt a little apprehensive because I teach primary. I was a little worried of any of the kids would ask why I’m wearing pants. I felt like if I gave an honest answer about how I feel, they might tell their parents and then parents might think I was teaching my disagreeable opinions to their kids. Turns out that I worried in vain. None of the kids even seemed to notice. People were friendly to me at church. I noticed 2 up-and-down glances at me from adults. I’m glad I participated. It was nice to feel warm in church in the winter.”

“I love it! I participated last year and have worn pants all but one Sunday since. And in the last year, 3 other sisters in my ward have started wearing pants too!”

“I was very nervous last year, feeling like I was doing something bad, even though I wasn’t. That made me realize how ingrained some ‘rules’ that aren’t even rules are.”

“Great….I think it helps change the cultural expectations that have nothing to do with the gospel.”

“Empowered. Much less afraid than last year.”

“Much more comfortable in them, and I felt the Spirit.”

“Great. I’ve been wearing pants since last years event.”

“I wish I had been brave enough to wear pants, instead of purple. But I think it was good.”

Wearing pants to church feels like carrying a giant, ‘Please come talk to me – I want to be friends!’ sign. Makes me feel a little brave and empowered, but also friendly and more open.”

“Strong and bold.”

“Nervous, but also excited. Now that it’s over, I feel great!”

“I participated last year and was scared to death. This year I was not scared at all.”

“Overall, happy – but somewhat fearful of hateful comments.”

“It was a nonevent for me. Last year it was a big deal to me, but I’ve since worn pants to church many times and didn’t have the same fear as I did last year. I felt like this year was much better organized (now that we’ve got a year of Mormon feminist activism under out belts) and I really appreciated all the work that the organizers did to keep it positive.”

“I had to watch myself to ensure that I didn’t say anything that would get me in trouble with the BYU Honor Code Office. I don’t have any purple to wear, so nobody really knew I was participating.”

“I felt liberating, free, peaceful, proud, confident, and I felt love for everyone. I was so happy I did it!”

What happens if the church doesn’t want me?

From Amber Whiteley

I wore pants to church last year. It felt terrifying. I remember walking in with my husband and daughter (who both wore purple to support me) and shaking during all of sacrament meeting. Afterwards, a family friend walked up to us and said “Pants, huh? so I guess you’re one of THOSE women.”

I walked as quickly as I could to my car, my heart pounding, as I choked back tears. I said to my husband, “I want to be a part of this church, but what happens if the church doesn’t want me?”

I have always been a feminist. I joined the church when I was 16 in a small, somewhat liberal ward who loved and accepted me for the person I was. As I grew up and moved away, I found myself no longer feeling like I fit in at church any more. I was scared that no one would accept me once they got to know the real me.

During the last hour of church, a woman passed me a note. It said “I like your pants! You are welcome and appreciated.” It was just the affirmation I needed.

The hatred spewed from other Mormons – our own brothers and sisters – on the Pants Facebook page made me realize that there was a lot of misinformation out there about what Mormon feminists are truly like. Out of that hatred, I felt inspired to create mormonfeminist.org, a website that normalizes Mormon feminists.

Last year I wore pants in fear. I was scared of admitting who I was, and scared I would lose my identity. Wearing pants to church last year inspired me to fully accept who I know I was meant to be. This year I am wearing pants with confidence, to send a message to all my sisters who may have felt the way I have felt in the past. There is a place for you, you are welcome and appreciated

There is Room for You

from Teresa

When I first joined the church, I came to church in a high necked, knee length dress that happened to be sleeveless. I was pulled aside by a girl in my ward and told that if I couldn’t get appropriate clothes to wear to church (meaning a dress with sleeves) that I shouldn’t come. This was a week after my baptism.

I was lucky in that I had wonderful missionaries who constantly checked on me and saw that I was upset. They told me that we are asked to wear our best but that there is no rule about what you can wear. I will wear pants as a show of solidarity to those members and investigators who feel like they don’t belong. As President Utchdorf said in this last conference “there is room for you.” Indeed there is room for everyone in the church.

Regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church. Come, join with us! (President Uchtdorf, October 2013)

How to Talk to People about Wear Pants to Church Day

from Clara

I was recently asked how I approach people when recruiting them for Wear Pants to Church Day. I participated last year and nothing dramatic happened, so it only seemed right to invite others along. While talking about it with some wonderful Mormon Feminists in my ward, we sadly concluded that the term “feminism” should be avoided if we wanted anyone to be involved. This has made conversations easier.

I always approach people on one-to-one basis. My first step is to ask if they’ve heard of Wear Pants to Church Day. If it’s the first time they’ve heard about it, I explain what is all about. Their answer is most likely to determine whether I keep the conversation going or not.

So far, responses have been positive. Most people would say it does not matter what you wear to church, but what you do. That leads me to casually drop in the conversation that Wear Pants to Church Day is now an annual thing and we are looking for supporters.

Some freak a little bit and look for assurance that this event has nothing to do with women wanting the priesthood or members telling leaders how the LDS Church should be run. I mostly focus on acceptance. Wear Pants to Church Sunday is our statement to the world and to the Church that, as Elder Uchtdorf said, “You are welcome”. This is our statement that no matter what you are, where you are from, what you do, and especially, what you wear, we love you. We are your ally, we are your friend, and we will stand by anyone’s side when they are in need. Wear Pants to Church Day is about love.

I hope that we welcome and love all of God’s children, including those who might dress, look, speak, or just do things differently. It is not good to make others feel as though they are deficient. Let us lift those around us. Let us extend a welcoming hand. Let us bestow upon our brothers and sisters in the Church a special measure of humanity, compassion, and charity so that they feel, at long last, they have finally found home. (Elder Uchtdorf, April 2010)

My Pants are about Change

The years 2012 and 2013 have been years of change in the LDS Church. We’ve seen a new edition of the Church Handbook of Instructions, new Young Men’s and Young Women’s manuals, a new edition of the scriptures, a lowering of the missionary age, hoards of new sister missionaries and a new sister missionary leadership position, missionaries now use the internet and Facebook, the Church reached out the to the gay community with mormonsandgays.org, the Revelations in Context series that brings greater transparency to church history, the release of the Joseph Smith Papers project including the Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, women prayed in General Conference for the first time, and the Priesthood Session of General Conference will now be broadcast over the internet like other sessions. There have been so many changes that I’m sure I’ve missed a few.

If you look closely at these changes, these are generally progressive moves by the LDS Church. Sure, the new YW and YM manuals are not perfect, but they are an improvement over the previous ones. The change in missionary ages has meant a sharp rise in the number of overall missionaries but especially in the numbers of women serving. Read More

If you think that wearing pants to church is no big deal, then wear pants to church

Since Jerilyn put up the facebook page, many people have commented that wearing pants to church is no big deal. Women do it all the time. Its not even a thing. We’re making a big deal out of nothing. And to you who think that, I challenge you to put your words to the test. Wear pants to church on December 15 and see what happens.

I started wearing pants to church every Sunday in March of this year. The first time, I was terrified, but it was Stake Conference and an unusual kind of Sunday. The next Sunday I felt a little braver, but one of the other primary leaders was visibly startled. No one said anything. It didn’t seem to be a big deal, though I did notice that several individuals who used to say hi to me in the halls at church no longer did. I tried to shrug it off.

I thought my pants were doing just fine at church until I was asked to meet with the bishop. He told me that someone in my ward called the stake president to report my pants. The stake president called the bishop and asked him to check it out. My bishop is a good man, we talked, and he was supportive. He didn’t think that pants at church were a big deal, but the stake president wanted him to speak with me. Read More

I am that woman

From Clayton M. Christensen’s The Power of Everyday Missionaries: “On one Sunday Sister Virginia Perry, whose husband, L. Tom Perry, was president of the Boston Stake, noticed a woman who had quietly found a space on the back row in the Weston chapel, having arrived a few minutes late for sacrament meeting. She was wearing jeans and a T-shirt and had come on her motorcycle. Sister Perry quickly sensed that the woman felt that she didn’t fit in. Everyone else was wearing their Sunday best and was sitting with their families. So Sister Perry left her family alone, went to the back pew, and asked the visitor if she would mind if she sat beside her. When the woman smiled in the affirmative, Sister Perry put her arm around her. The next Sunday Sister Perry came to church wearing Levi’s and a T-shirt.”

I am that woman. I know many others who are that woman. I love Sister Perry for this story. The purpose of the event isn’t to make everybody wear pants. Skirts are great. I wear them often. (Last year I heard a number of people expressing glee that the event had “failed” because most sisters did not show up in pants). The purpose was and is to show love for those who did show up in pants. For those who worry they do not belong. And in that sense, “Wear Pants to Church” was both a great success and a great failure. I hope that this year, and in years to come, the success will be higher than the failure. Last year, I was the only one in my ward to wear pants. This year, two sisters from that ward have RSPVed. And the gesture means more to me than I can say.

– Noelle

Why did you decide to participate in the Wear Pants to Church campaign? Responses from the Survey of Mormon Feminists

I had 3 boys, but when our daughter was born, I started to see the world in a whole new light. I tried to see the world through the eyes of this little girl, and it seemed like there were so many things that were so blatantly unequal and unfair to her, just because she is female. And to see what she is going to walk through as a girl growing in and through Mormonism…. there’s just a lot that is so un Christlike. I can’t change all this, I can’t change the situation, but I’m aware and I see it and I’m going to try to make it better for her. Read More