Mormons updating practices
The power is in the symbolism of the garments, not any kind of miracles that result from wearing them.
Today, most Mormons are understood to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).Other Mormons may be independently religious, secular and non-practicing, or belong to another denomination.The center of Mormon cultural influence is in Utah, and North America has more Mormons than any other continent, though the majority of Mormons live outside the United States.There are obvious exceptions, though: no one keeps them on while playing sports, for instance, or on trips to the beach. Though it's common in Mormon-mocking rhetoric to use some variation on "magic Mormon undies" to describe the garment (paging Bill Maher), there's nothing especially mystical about them.Because of their sacred nature, garments are not sold in retail stores or manufactured by outside companies; they can be purchased at various church-owned stores throughout the world (often attached to temples), or online at one of the LDS church's websites. Mormons are taught that by putting on "the whole armor of God"--a Biblical metaphor regularly employed in LDS discussions of the subject--they are afforded protection from temptation, in that they have a physical reminder not to sin. Just as cheating spouses ignore the vows symbolized by their wedding ring, plenty of garment-wearing Mormons sin.The subject of long-running public curiosity, the question occasionally pops back into the foreground, as with a widely-retweeted image earlier this year (top), and footage of the candidate in Florida this week.
From the start of Romney's career as a public figure--and, in many ways, well before then--the special undergarment worn by many observant Mormon men and women has been a point of political curiosity, debate, and derision.
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Mormons begin wearing garments when they "go through the temple" for the first time--a spiritual rite of passage that typically coincides with leaving to serve a mission, or getting married. Because wearing them is a personal choice, it's impossible to know for sure if that familiar (to Mormons) neckline in the Romney photo is actually attached to a temple garment.
But as a lifelong member of the church who served a mission, married his wife in the temple, and continues to be active in his religion, it would stand to reason that Romney is still a garment-wearer. Garments today come in two pieces--a white undershirt, and white boxer brief-style shorts--and they contain small symbols meant to remind Mormons of the covenants they've made in the temple.
So, in the spirit of debunking and demystifying, Buzz Feed is here to answer your questions about "magic Mormon underwear." (This reporter is something of an expert on the subject.) What are garments? Garments are worn by faithful adult Mormons who've received certain ordinances in one of the church's temples (which are different from the churches Mormons attend on Sundays).