A call for Mormon women to wear pants to church, begun this month by a small group of women, has stretched across the globe, but not before creating a backlash and even generating death threats.
“Wear Pants to Church,” an event on Sunday, was meant to draw attention to the role of women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, using attire as a symbolic first salvo in a larger struggle over gender inequalities.
Though the Mormon Church has no official policy against women wearing pants to church, many say they feel peer pressure to wear a dress, particularly in the Western United States, organizers said. So on Sunday, thousands of Mormon women arrived at church in pants in places like Cambridge, England; Heidelberg, Germany; Austin, Tex.; the Marshall Islands; and Kotzebue, Alaska.
A number of the women posted their photos on Facebook and other Web sites. Others said they could not participate because they were fearful of ridicule or reprimand. A Google map, begun so women could show they participated, included posts like this one, from Kari White, in Sheboygan, Wis.: “felt free to be an authentic me for the first time in my nearly 5 years of membership in the church.”
Joanna Brooks, a professor at San Diego State University and the author of “The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith,” called it “the largest concerted Mormon feminist effort in history.””