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April 05, 2008



BRAVO! What I find really worrying about this kind of thing is how it enables "wolves in sheep's clothing"--literally. Say you're an impressionable child and have been taught that outward appearance is a sign of righteousness. All a predator (of any kind) has to do is wear all the right clothes and have the right hair and styles. Adults get taken in by this crap too of course, but to have the church foist it on the inexperienced and consciously train them in it is--as you rightly say--despicable.


Nice fisking, Equality.

"...is it better for a young woman to wear fishnet stockings or attend church barelegged?"

Fishnet stockings, definitely.

Meg Slate

Well done, Equality.

This stuff is so damaging to the youth of the church. The continued focus on the bodies of these young girls is demeaning and despicable. We should be focused on making them feel good about themselves, helping them feel empowered and proud of themselves. Instead we are telling them that donning flip flops will send them on an inevitable downward spiral toward self-hatred.

It is not flip flops, Mr. Christofferson, it is YOU who will make these poor young people despise themselves.

Capt Jack

"Had I not known that they were coming to the school for church meetings, I would have assumed that there was some sort of sporting event taking place."

You tell them, Mr Christofferson, everybody knows the Only True Worship is a business meeting with the corresponding dress code.

Great job, Equality. I, like you, get a little angrier every time I think about this article. The youth of the church deserve praise for their efforts, which are many, rather than condemnation for not measuring up to someone's outdated standard. On the other hand, I guess they're being prepared for a life in the church.
Jane Austen

Extremely Disaffected

I have seen the Fundies on CNN's 360 going to Church. They are all dressed in an appropriate manner according to Brother Christofferson (it looked spooky). I wonder if TSCC feels that the Fundies have stolen the one true dress code as well as the term "Mormon." among other things.

Extremely Disaffected


I love the "Peruvian Hillbilly" excuse. Maybe this could be like a "beard card" at BYU. How hard do you think it would be to get this "Peruvian Hillbilly" card. Would it only be given to Peruvians?

Matt Elggren

This past Sunday my younger daughter had the pleasure of sitting next to one of the Christofferson faithful as she (a 10 yr old) reprimanded another primary child for wearing gouchos. The poor girl ran off crying to her mother. This young saint then asked my daughter what she thought...my daughter said, "well, my older sister is wearing gouchos today too." Silence.

What a mess the church makes of our children.


His point about dress showing respect has some abstract validity to it. The problem is "the other end of the stick", where we have people running around the church as self-imposed dress police. IMHO the damage done through encouraging judgmentalism is worse than the good that is done by encouraging people to show respect through their manner of dress. The bottom line is that a principle like this should be taught, and then it's up to the individual to decide how to best show respect. We are very good at teaching people how to put up facades and not very good at teaching them to admit they need a Savior.


CF, I agree with you. I didn't mean to imply that I thought people should be slobs or that there aren't good reasons to dress nicely on occasions or that church might not be one of those occasions. What is pernicious to me is the idea that, as a matter of principle, what is on the outside is a reflection of what is on the inside--that this is a valid way to judge others. I think D. Todd might do well to watch the movie Devil's Advocate where Al Pacino plays the devil (who is, of course, a lawyer). He's very well-dressed and well-mannered. I think that was the point Nibley was making as well.


Putting the Carnival together and was surprised. The speaker was from my wife's ward and at our reception. I never knew the man outside of a handshake but my wife's family fawns(?) over him. Also Packer which they knew in Boston.

Diane Lowe

I too, prefer the fishnet stockings.

But then this begs many more questions to be asked:

Do women have to wear pantyhose, or are thigh-highs OK? If thigh-highs are OK, then can't I wear thigh-high stockings with a garter belt? What about knee-high stockings? Since our skirts come to the knee (or lower) already, knee-highs should be OK since people won't look above the knee.


Great post!


Wow, creepy to the max. Even when a (relatively) loyal member of the church, I found such teachings absolutely crazy. I never understood why they were so fixated on such silly things. I'm surprised it took me as long as it did to finally leave the church.

hank rearden

That's it. From now on, no Mormon can mock the Jews for "looking beyond the mark", developing laws on top of commentary on laws, creating the Talmud, etc. The degree of freedom (the plural nature of "degrees" clearly being far too lavish) offered the faithful Latter-day Saint is but smoke and a mess of pottage for the freedom that is their true birthright.

Those fuss-budgety cultural excesses of the previous generation are being embraced by the next. Instead of the tolerance and big-picture orientation of Hugh B. Brown, the most uptight quirks of Mark E. Petersen, Boyd K. and Bruce R. receive current leaders' imprimatur.

Let the inexorable and logarithmic slide into complete irrelevance begin! The stone cut without hands was not merely a growth/force metaphor - it was a clear projection of cultural sophistication.

Carrie Oakie

Great post and good E. quote: "You ought to be ashamed of yourself for your fearmongering in the name of God." Indeed!
Todd (I'm going to call him this from now on)sounds like the male version of Julie Beck.

Sister Mary Lisa

I wonder what Todd'd say about a man wearing pantyhose with his suit. I think it'd be priceless being a man and sitting next to him so he could see the nylons below the cuff of my trousers...I bet he'd move away slowly and start drafting his next talk right then. Heh.

J. Muhlestein

I agree that there is some "looking beyond the mark" going on here, but I'd point to your fisking rather than Elder Christofferson's intended message. So keen are you to point out anything and everything you consider offensive about this talk that perhaps you marked not what's the pith of all--that some church members, especially teenagers, choose to wear clothing that draws attention to themselves rather than allowing the focus to stay where it should be--on the worship of God. And yes, that is a problem.

It's not up to me or any other fellow churchgoer to pick on others and point out what is or isn't considered appropriate dress. That is indeed offensive. (Mote and beam, anyone?) But it *is* the responsibility of Church leaders to define appropriate dress if it's clear that the rule of thumb isn't being adhered to in church. Ergo, this talk.


J. Muhlestein wrote: "But it *is* the responsibility of Church leaders to define appropriate dress if it's clear that the rule of thumb isn't being adhered to in church."

J., I hope you are aware of the Bible Dictionary entry on the Pharisees:



A religious party among the Jews. The name denotes separatists. They prided themselves on their strict observance of the law, and on the care with which they avoided contact with things gentile. Their belief included the doctrine of immortality and resurrection of the body and the existence of angels and spirits. They upheld the authority of oral tradition as of equal value with the written law. The tendency of their teaching was to reduce religion to the observance of a multiplicity of ceremonial rules, and to encourage self-sufficiency and spiritual pride. They were a major obstacle to the reception of Christ and the gospel by the Jewish people. For the Lord’s judgment on them and their works see Matt. 23; Mark 7; Luke 11: 37-54.


To me, it seems like church leaders dedicating a whole talk to church dress is exactly in the spirit of the Pharisees. It's ironic to me that if you substituted "General Authorities" in that entry, it would still be true. The LDS church is exactly the kind of thing Jesus would rail against if he were on the earth today.


Great post. I think you should send this in a letter to good ole' Todd. And btw, I've despised sacred things, and (shocker) even god for close to 20 years now and amazingly I don't despise myself. I'm doing pretty well.


If Jesus were to walk into an LDS church meeting today, how would He be received?

"I'd bet he'd be cool
I'd bet he'd be mighty fine looking
I'd bet that he smells divine
And I'm not talking about Calvin Klein's Obsession
No, he's just one of those people who smells good all the time, there's no reason why"

"I Bet He Was Cool", by Savage Garden

The whole post sounds like a tribute to Pink Floyd's "A Brick in the Wall"

We don't need no education, Todd...Leave those kids alone!

It's comforting to know that you have the intellectual sophistication to shrug off such harmful advice. Teenagers are a lot smarter than you give them credit for. I think your attitude towards them is unwarranted and it also makes you appear both condescending and arrogant.


Well, the Reagans' church in California would scandalize Elder Kristofferson. I went there once with friends who attended that church--back when Ronald and Nancy attended--and half the congregation was dressed casually.

I was in an innercity branch for a while where one of the kids passed sacrament in a New Orleans Saints t-sirt, and nobody else was any more or less observant because of that. Oh, and the EQP who preceeded me had his son and daughter help prepare the sacrament on Sunday mornings, and the bread and water seemed to have the same effect on the believers as if they had been prepped by Aaronic priesthood holders. Hey, Mayan, remember that kid who wandered into sacrament meeting in his swim suit, looking for the pool?

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