Garment Rights?

March 5, 2009 | 125 comments
By

Do we have a right to wear garments? If we do, how far does that right go? What , kind of right is it? Is it a human right? Or a legal one that might disappear and reappear as we pass national boundaries?

One of the people I home teach is currently being denied the opportunity to wear garments here in the United States, so I’m wondering if wearing garments is a human right, a kind of sub-sub-right or case study of the right to religious belief and expression. And if wearing garments is a right, how far does it go? Should I protest if someone other than Church authorities tries to keep me from wearing garments? Should I make enraged calls to my legislator, in whatever country I happen to live?

I hope it is clear that I’m not talking about some kind of right that supersedes Church authority. In my mind it is clear that the Church has a right to tell members when they can and can’t wear garments, and to discipline them when they don’t follow counsel. I suppose this isn’t much of an issue for most people.

What is more troubling to me is when a government or another outside force determines or tries to determine when and where a Church member can wear religious garments.

This has been an issue for the Church in the past. As I understand it, the U.S. military has had issues with garments worn by Mormons serving in the past, and both the Church and the military made concessions to reach an accommodation, resulting in garments manufactured for the use of those in the military. [Undoubtedly others know much more about this and can correct my understanding.]

While I haven’t heard anything about it, I assume at least some other countries have either not had any problems with Mormons wearing garments while serving in their armed forces, or reached some kind of compromise. [I recognize that other countries are still very unfamiliar with Mormonism or are unwilling to compromise and don't or wouldn't let LDS Church members in their armed services wear garments.]

Another area where wearing garments may be an issue involves prison, detention or other incarceration of some kind, where prisoners are often required to wear prison-issued clothing. While it is true that in most of these cases those incarcerated have committed a crime that is also a moral sin, leading Church leaders to ask them not to wear garments, it isn’t necessarily the case that incarceration means that they can’t or shouldn’t wear garments. Occasionally incarceration involves matters that aren’t a serious sin under Church teachings, or may not involve a crime exactly, such as when a journalist refuses to reveal sources, or when a member is morally opposed to a law. This was the case in the later 1800s, when many Church leaders served prison sentences for polygamy. There are really a host of possible, if often theoretical, reasons why a member might be incarcerated, but still be allowed by Church leaders to wear garments.

I believe that one form of incarceration where the right to wear garments is often an issue is increasing rapidly. The man I home teach is in this category. He has been detained because of his immigration status. 

In general, the Church does not consider immigration issues serious enough to warrant any Church discipline by themselves. I assume that our experience here in New York is similar to most places around the country: illegal immigrants are baptized, given temple recommends and serve in any local calling except Bishop or Stake President. My friend, who I home teach, is a good example of this. He is a high priest and has served in two different bishoprics in the past decade.

It would be wrong to assume that this is only an issue in the United States. Many other areas of the world are also facing immigration problems and have laws and procedures that detain and incarcerate illegal immigrants, including much of Western Europe and South Africa, from what I’ve read. I’m sure there are other areas of the world also where immigration detention happens.

When my friend was taken into detention, all his clothing was taken from him, including his garments despite his protests that they are religious clothing. He was given the standard clothing provided to all detainees, and those who run the facility have so far shown little interest in addressing the issue informally.

[The situation in detention is not at all what I had assumed before my friend was detained. I has assumed that detention was like what I had heard of the internment camps where Japanese-Americans were held during World War II. As bad as that was, they were not housed like prisoners. Immigration detainees today are treated just like prisoners in the general population, despite the fact that most haven't done anything violent at all -- they simply overstayed their visas in many cases. I'm told that the average detainee is incarcerated in the U.S. for five months.]

For what its worth, the standards under which this facility is supposed to be run do suggest that garments should be permitted, just like “prayer shawls and robes, kurda or ribbon shirts, … kufis, yarmulkes, turbans, crowns, and headbands, as well as scarves and head wraps.” At this point, I assume that the problem is mostly ignorance of Mormon beliefs rather than a decision that wearing garments will somehow adversely affect the safety of the facility or the ability to keep the detainees in the facility. So our ward and stake are trying to work through the facility and government procedures necessary to have garments recognized as religious clothing that detainees should be permitted to wear.

So all of this makes me wonder: how far does the right to wear garments go? If a member has a valid temple recommend, doesn’t that member have a right to wear garments in most, if not all circumstances? Aside from the member’s judgement to not where garments where they may be ridiculed, and the Church’s advice to members regarding when and how to wear garments, are there any restrictions?

[By the way, I should apologize for my absence during the past month or so due to work pressures and a protracted battle with a bad hard drive.]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

125 Responses to Garment Rights?

  1. Jettboy on March 5, 2009 at 9:07 am

    “The man I home teach is in this category. He has been detained because of his immigration status.

    In general, the Church does not consider immigration issues serious enough to warrant any Church discipline by themselves.”

    At the least he isn’t honest with his fellow men and he is breaking the law. I would say, incarceration or not, he shouldn’t be temple worthy. As non-ecclesiastical authority that isn’t up to me, but that is how I feel about illegal immigration. Why, by the way, would someone going to jail in a non-conscience objection situation be wearing them in the first place? Garments are more than a sign of religious membership, but represent faith and standards having been reasonably met.

  2. bloggernacleburner on March 5, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Children are incarcerated too. Even children who are US citizens. Medical treatment provided is well below even that offered to the general prison population.

    Immigration incarceration in the US is a disgusting practice. There have been multiple deaths due to the substandard conditions.

    You’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg.

  3. MJGrant on March 5, 2009 at 9:45 am

    If this were a citizen or a legal permanent resident, there would be 1st Amendment issues all over this situation. There have been tons of lawsuits re: prisoners rights, but these have been brought by individuals with rights under the Constitution. The fact that this man is not, and indeed, is in the country illegally, means that for all purposes he is not considered to have the Constitutional protections the other 2 groups (previously mentioned) do. That is the only reason I can think of that would allow things like this, which I consider outrageous, to continue.

    On second thought– You actually didn’t mention the details of his situation– I just jumped to the conclusion that he was never legally admitted to the US, when in fact he could have just overstayed an original visa, or made some other type of immigration law violation. If he was in fact “admitted” to this country by the US, whether as an immigrant or a non-immigrant for a temporary stay, then he DOES have Constitutional protections and what is going on needs to be stopped.

  4. Daknife on March 5, 2009 at 9:47 am

    I’m with Jettboy, yes he should be allowed to wear the garments by the gov agency. In fact that agency is risking some substantial legal costs by not immediately recognizing it’s mistake and allowing him to wear the religious clothing items of the prisoners chosen faith.

    But should he be considered in good standing by his local church leadership and thus be allowed to wear the garments? He is not upholding and sustaining the laws of the land. He is not dealing honorably with his fellowman.

    IMO no member of the church who is in this country illegaly should be considered in good standing. They are breaking the law. Similarly the I feel the church is shooting itself in the foot by allowing illegal immigrants to be baptised.

  5. Tim on March 5, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Wow. Some interesting criticism of the church’s take on illegal immigrants.
    Guess it’s not just the liberal members who criticize stuff like that…

  6. Peter LLC on March 5, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Jettboy, I’m all about revoking the temple recommends of, say, human traffickers, but Im not ready to adopt the view that most violations of immigration law qualify as mala in se.

  7. Hans on March 5, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I have a hard time seeing that a person’s immigration status become part of a leadership interview question. From personal experience in my wife’s branch in Bulgaria, the 1st counselor in the Branch Presidency is a citizen of the Congo (not the DRC, the other one). He is clearly out of status but this has not stopped him from service in that position. I believe that a few years ago he was the branch president as well.

  8. SC Taysom on March 5, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Just a point of clarification here. One does not have to be temple worthy to wear temple garments. Once endowed, members are expected to wear the garment unless they are excommunicated. Thus those endowed persons who do not hold current temple recs and even those who have been disfellowshipped are still required to wear the garment.

  9. SC Taysom on March 5, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Just to document my point, this is from the CHI (2006): “Disfellowshipped individuals are encouraged to pay tithes and offerings and to continue wearing temple garments if endowed.” So, as I read it, the penalty for violating immigration laws would have to be excommunication in order for an individual’s worthiness to wear the garment to be in question.

  10. Geoff B on March 5, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Kent, to answer your original question, I’d be willing to bet that ignorance of garments as having a religious nature is the primary cause of the problem you are mentioning. If prayer shawls and turbans can be allowed, some simple underwear with some markings on it should not be a big deal — if you can reach the correct authorities and if they are reasonable about it.

    I wonder if Jettboy or Daknife has ever jay-walked or driven over the speed limit. If so, how could they possibly say they are honest in their dealings with their fellow men? I say this to help people understand the realities of illegal immigration today. There is NO LEGAL WAY for many people to get into the United States, in many cases to be reunited with their families. The Church, it seems, rightly perceives that there is a moral difference between immigration laws (and jay-walking and driving over the speed limit) and more serious transgressions. (I am not saying these crimes are equivalent — I am saying that the Church rightly perceives that there are different categories of crimes, and we should recognize this). Are national borders more important than saving souls? From the Lord’s perspective, I think the answer is no.

  11. Kaimi on March 5, 2009 at 10:28 am

    “At the least he isn’t honest with his fellow men and he is breaking the law. I would say, incarceration or not, he shouldn’t be temple worthy. ”

    Many immigration violations are non-felony, non-criminal violations of the civil code. In other words, they are the legal equivalent of other non-criminal civil code violations, such as speeding.

    When you get your drivers license, you agree not to drive 65 in a 55 zone. If you drive 65, you are breaking the law, and being dishonest.

    Does speeding make a person not temple worthy?

  12. Kaimi on March 5, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Amen, Geoff B. :)

  13. bandanamom on March 5, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Here in our Stake in AZ we have 2 spanish branches. A great deal of these members are illegal aliens. We have many people in the Stake who have been upset by this in the past. Last year the church instructed our Stake Presidency that immigration status was NEVER to be grounds for any sort of church action. If they were worthy in every other way they are to be given temple recommends, leadership positions, etc. The position of the church seems to be that while technically disobeying a law of the land, these people are really only trying to support their families as best they can, and should not be subjected to any sort of church censorship because of it.

    We have a very conservative group in the Stake Presidency – they have had to come to terms with the fact that the church, on this issue, is very liberal.

    I’m fine with it, but I think many, many members of the church outside of areas with large immigration numbers are completely oblivious to the church’s policies in this regard.

  14. Owen on March 5, 2009 at 10:35 am

    I’m with Tim. How is it that even when the Church has decided to generally wink at immigration violations so many church members cling to their hard line stance on immigration? Do you support denying temple recommends for traffic violations? Or just if the violators have brown skin?

  15. Bookslinger on March 5, 2009 at 10:38 am

    I think it important to leave temple-worthiness issues to church leaders. Baptizing and issuing temple-recs to illegal immigrants and visa-overstayers appears to have the approval from the highest level of church leadership. So let’s be careful about publicly expressing opinions that go contrary to what the Brethren have already approved.

    Who are we, as rank-and-file, to point the finger and say brother and sister so-and-so shouldn’t go to the temple?

    If you have “guilty knowledge” of something brother so-and-so has done, dump it privately in your bishop’s or SP’s lap, let him handle it, and forget it.

    Even if you saw a brother light up a cigaratte in the parking lot after leaving the temple, if you think you should inform the bishop, do it privately, keep it to yourself, then forget it.

    Joseph Smith taught about being generous and covering over the other person’s sins (and _not_ covering over your own). If the Brethren want to “cover over” “immigration sins”, let’s allow our leaders to be so generous, and maybe they, and the Lord, will be generous with those of us who sin in other matters.

    In the Lord’s eyes, maybe there are no borders. Borders and nations are temporal human constructs. Maybe the Lord is saying “I don’t care, work it out amongst yourselves.”

    ————–
    Re: garment use when in custody.

    Kent, I think you’re doing good in working through channels to make sure that policies and practices on LDS garment use while in government custody should correspond to how use of other religion’s garments are treated by the same prison or custodial authority.

    ————–

    Re: garment use by military.

    What I’ve heard is that certain jobs (MOS?) in the military have specifications about the fire-retardant and fire-resistant and melting-resistant properties of all pieces of clothing.

    I’ve heard that those working around flammables, and on aircraft or aircraft carriers may be required to wear nothing with any nylon or artificial fibers, and that it must be all cotton or linen. This is because if any burning liquid gets on them, the melted nylon would do more damage to the skin than burning cotton.

    In such situations, all that’s needed is to use 100% cotton garments, not the new-fangled nylon mesh, artificial silk, or Corban or whatever.

    Other requirements may just be practical such as when wearing special clothing required by the job, such as a scuba wet-suit, but you wouldn’t normally want to wear garments in those situations anyway. I guess you could wear them under a scuba dry-suit.

  16. Liz Busby on March 5, 2009 at 10:43 am

    I have a family friend with a similar problem. He’s been sentenced for 2 years for white collar crime (tax-related; he’s a CPA and the company didn’t take the actions he recommended for a deduction and failed to communicate this back to him). Now he can’t wear garments even though fully worthy.

  17. Mark D. on March 5, 2009 at 10:47 am

    I think the concept of church members being “allowed” to wear garments is somewhat amusing. In practice, the only thing the church can do is attempt to control who can purchase official garments, and attempt to discipline those who wear them contrary to recommendation.

    Illegitimate garment wearing is an unusually hard thing to audit, and the means available to discourage the practice are almost all pedagogical in nature.

  18. Adam Greenwood on March 5, 2009 at 10:52 am

    In the military its the same way: you have the right to wear garments but individual officers and NCOs will not be aware of this right and will often deny it until educated by the chaplain or a superior.

  19. BronwynJT on March 5, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Should members even wear garments in certain public places at all? There are two prime-time reality shows this season which feature endowed Mormons, neither of whom wears his garments, by choice.

  20. Mark D. on March 5, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Liz B., If what you say is true, it sounds like your friend didn’t commit a crime (in the common sense of the term) at all. mens rea and all that…

  21. Dave on March 5, 2009 at 11:02 am

    No, just breaking the law does not affect a person’s good standing in the Church. Most Mormons break the law every time they drive on the freeway. Only serious crimes raise this issue, and the Church obviously does not consider immigration infractions to be serious crimes.

  22. Zack on March 5, 2009 at 11:18 am

    I won’t comment on the illegal immigration issues that have hijacked this thread because the Church’s policy is so unquestionably right that it disgusts me people would ever criticize it.

    With regard to the compelling question posed here, I believe there is something to be said for wearing garments as a human right. I belive it logically flows from the right to religious free expression. That said, religious expression is far from a universally-recognized human right. In many nations, religious clothing is banned in public settings (especially schools). If such a ban can be upheld in a nation, I think it is free to include our magic Mormon underwear.

    But the United States is not a country where such prohibition is permissable. I would say that your friend is being wronged (whether he is a citizen or not is hardly relevant to this question) because whoever is prohibiting his religious free expression does not have the right to do so. His right to religious free expression is recognized by the country (anyone within the United States’ borders is free to his or her own way of religious expression). But more importantly, no entity within the United States has the right to limit religious expression except where specifically granted. They likely claim to have the right but claiming a right does not grant it. (Like the “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” or “we reserve the right to inspect all bags” nonsense so many businesses use these days.)

    Tell your friend to wear his garments.

  23. gst on March 5, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Kent, I think that your friend probably does have a legal right to wear his garments, and if he thinks he needs to use litigation or the threat of litigation to exercise that right, I can introduce him to some public interest religious liberty lawyers I have worked with that have stood up for our church members before. You can email me.

  24. Alison Moore Smith on March 5, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I won’t comment on the illegal immigration issues that have hijacked this thread because the Church’s policy is so unquestionably right that it disgusts me people would ever criticize it.

    Ah, so it’s OK to question “the brethren” as long as you have deemed them unquestionably wrong, or at least marginal?

    I think the actual question posed here about garment rights is interesting. Although I don’t have much of an opinion on the rights issue, I tend to think that most of the time garments come up for public discussion (or display) it doesn’t serve the image of the church. Personally, I wish we had just about any religiously symbolic clothing OTHER than underwear. Give me a necklace or a shawl or a cap or… just about anything that the mere mention of doesn’t get even five-year-olds snickering.

  25. Mark D. on March 5, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    CTR ring.

  26. Nicole on March 5, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    As a liberal mormon, I am actually pretty pleased with how the church handles this issue. This particular issue of wearing garments is frustrating – it shows ignorance and perhaps an unwillingness to deal with the laundry issue.

    As to your question – do you call anyone? Yep. Call your legislative representatives. Have a letter ready to send as a follow up fax to them with the details of the situations.

    I’d also place a call to the ACLU – they are there to defend all races and the political spectrum. My guess is the ACLU would see this as a violation of religious rights and take it on.

  27. Steve Evans on March 5, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    This thread makes me infinitely grateful for the local leaders I have as opposed to, say, you lot. A-mazing.

  28. Brad Kramer on March 5, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    I dunno, Evans. Jettboy sounds like he would be a GREAT local leader.

  29. Paradox on March 5, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    The problem is that your friend is not a citizen. Our rights as declared in the Constitution, even though they are based on inalienable human rights, cannot always be legally protected as such. Maybe the state where you live grants him something, but the Constitution doesn’t. That seems to be the biggest justifier in situations like Guantanamo Bay, anyway. And frankly, that was the chance he took when he chose to come here illegally.

    Which isn’t to say that what is happening to him is right, because it isn’t. It’s just that the government isn’t actually obligated to do anything for him, and probably won’t because of it.

  30. Steve Evans on March 5, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    …by “you lot” I guess I just mean the indomitable Jettboy and his stupid minion daknife and maybe one or two others. The rest of you acn be my bishop anytime (esp. the women folk).

  31. Nicole on March 5, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    There is a difference in “enemy combatant” in QB and immigrants – at least that seems to be the legal justification for those detained formally under the “war on terror.” Many would say, as someone who was residing, legally or not, here in the US, he has the same basic Constitutional rights as anyone else.

  32. Steve Evans on March 5, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Paradox, don’t take this the wrong way, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  33. Hunter on March 5, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Steve Evans, that was the loveliest zinger I’ve heard all day. Nice. Reminds me of the time I heard a judge say to an attorney (after the judge harangued the attorney with 13 million questions), “And if, by my questions, you’re getting the impression that I’m not pleased with your presentation, then you would be right.”

  34. Eric Russell on March 5, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Kent, you mentioned that the “military made concessions to reach an accommodation.”

    Does anyone know what concessions these are? I am unaware of any kind of concessions made by the military with respect to garments.

  35. CS Eric on March 5, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Eric Russel,

    The “concessions” that the military has made (actually, it goes both ways) is that members may wear garments provided they are the correct color. Military members can purchase olive drab garments. Apparently the markings on the garments are the important part, not the color. I still have a couple of pair from my active duty service, but I rarely wear them anymore.

  36. gst on March 5, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Eric, the military agreed to allow tactical celestial gear.

  37. mmiles on March 5, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Apparently the markings on the garments are the important part, not the color

    Sure the military and church have made concessions, but if that were true, they’d be selling a variety of colors.

  38. mpb on March 5, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    threadjack here, but this post does nothing to help my already very low opinion of ICE. i clerked for ICE one summer and was really taken back by how xenophobic those attorneys were. another clerk and i were ridiculed once when it was discovered that we liked to lunch at a restaurant serving a certain ethnic food. the types of jokes and slurs regularly heard around the office were really very saddening.

    i hope you are able to help your friend.

  39. James on March 5, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    The key question has nothing to do with this man’s legal status or the position of the Church on the worthiness of members residing in a country illegally. The central question is does the detention facility allow any religious clothing of any form? If so, there are between 1 and 1000 smart lawyers in this country who would be able to beat CIS and the detention provider over the head with that fact to get this man permission to have his garments back.

    On the other hand, the back and forth here illustrates the division in the Church on this issue. I think that when people who just see illegal immigration as a minor ‘technical’ issue of what may well be bad law ask questions like ‘do you ever go faster than the speed limit’ are being very insensitive to the real trial that others are going through when they see the 12th article of faith, which is canon scripture in the church, apparently thrown under the bus in the rush to accommodate the acceptance of people who are not obeying this law.

  40. DavidH on March 5, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    The end of this piece discusses some modifications made to garments for members in the military. http://www.i4m.com/think/temples/mormon-garments.htm the official link for military style garments. http://www.lds.org/pa/display/0,17884,4878-1,00.html

    In the past, there was a letter from the First Presidency to be given to endowed members entering the military regarding the wearing of the garment during military service. The instructions to the local leaders was to have them read the letter, to give no further instructions, and to allow the member to make his or her own decisions how to implement the advice concerning wearing the garment in the military.

  41. CS Eric on March 5, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    mmiles (#37),

    I have also had some pink garments, but only because a pair of red socks somehow got in the load of white laundry one day. Am I the only one?

  42. Rebecca J on March 5, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Give me a necklace or a shawl or a cap or… just about anything that the mere mention of doesn’t get even five-year-olds snickering.

    A-freaking-men.

    Sorry. Carry on.

  43. rb on March 5, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    re: #1 should I remove my garments before I go to an R rated movie? Just wondering. (At first blush, I thought comment #1 was a lame attempt at humor, but am disappointed to see he/she probably meant it. Yikes!)

  44. Kent G. Budge on March 5, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    “I have also had some pink garments, but only because a pair of red socks somehow got in the load of white laundry one day. Am I the only one?”

    I have blue spotted garments, as a consequence of some unfortunate carelessness while preparing for the annual Pinewood Derby ritual.

  45. Geoff B on March 5, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Carefully perusing the comments to see if I get thrown into the Steve Evans “I wouldn’t want to be associated with you lot” list…and it appears that this time…NO, I am not on the list. Phew!

  46. jks on March 5, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Tell your friend that if he is denied the freedom to wear garments, but in his heart he would be willing to wear them, he will have the exact same blessings as if he were wearing them. There is nothing to worry about.
    The other thing to think about is laundry. If he wore them, they would be out of his possession and subject to other people having possession of them that might not respect the garment. In this case, he might feel it is appropriate to not wear them anyway.
    Of course, it would be nice to get it approved like other religious clothing. However, because of the laundry needs it would be difficult. If it does get approved a solution would be to wear the garments over the generic underwear that is given to him, which means he could perhaps keep them and wash them himself when needed? This would be appropriate from church policy standpoint because the he would still be wearing them as underwear, not outerwear. (Many members have worn various other underwear or medical clothing under the garments for practical purposes).

  47. Eric Russell on March 5, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    CS Eric, considering that the garments are identical in apperance and that, because the markings are on the inside no one actually knows if you’re wearing garments or not, it’s really not any kind of concession.

    gst, the celestial gear better be lighter, or they can keep it.

  48. WMP on March 5, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    As a practical matter, would it make sense to consult with personnel at Utah’s state prison facilities (who must encounter this issue more than most others) about how they deal with these matters?

  49. Jettboy on March 5, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    In case your wondering, I seek to follow the speed limit and try very hard not to jaywalk. It is easier to step on the gas, correct your mistake, and then slow down then decide to cross a boarder. If I do get a ticket then I am not going to argue that I shouldn’t deserve the consequences or that I didn’t do wrong. Also, I do get unnerved thinking of faithful Mormons getting tickets for traffic violations.

    In case your wondering, I don’t think speed limits and illegal immigration are of equal magnitude. That is a “legal equivalancy” I don’t agree with, so the speed limit and jay walking argument doesn’t work. It takes far more time, work, and conscious thought to cross a boarder than cross a street. If they want to declare asylum then far less moral problems.

  50. Steve Evans on March 5, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Geoff B., of course I’d be associated with you. You’re a good guy. To be clear, I was saying I wouldn’t want some of these people to be my ecclesiastical leaders, not to forsake all association.

    Not that the latter isn’t occasionally tempting.

  51. Mark Brown on March 5, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Everybody (but especially Steve),

    Lay off Jettboy and daknife, and shut up.

    I’m sure they meant to put a smiley at the end of their comments, and just forgot. Why be so hard on them?

  52. mpb on March 5, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    “At the least he isn’t honest with his fellow men and he is breaking the law. I would say, incarceration or not, he shouldn’t be temple worthy.”

    Jettboy, if you were my Stake President here in Texas, an entire branch of my stake would be stripped of their temple recommends.

  53. Jettboy on March 5, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I am amused that only on the bloggernacle would my remarks be considered the minority, and even extremist, in Mormonism.

  54. Mark Brown on March 5, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Wrong yet again, Jettboy.

    Your attitude is in the minority among the general authorities, too, who have repeatedly and explicitly stated and written that a person’s immigration status is not a worthiness issue. Your public opposition to their council is duly noted.

  55. Bridget Jack Meyers on March 5, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    #24 Alison:

    I tend to think that most of the time garments come up for public discussion (or display) it doesn’t serve the image of the church. Personally, I wish we had just about any religiously symbolic clothing OTHER than underwear. Give me a necklace or a shawl or a cap or… just about anything that the mere mention of doesn’t get even five-year-olds snickering.

    Whew. I am relieved to know that when I privately think garments are unappealing in so many ways, I’m not just being a callous non-member.

    Regarding the OP, I think that if other religious displays of clothing are allowed at your friend’s prison, then garments should be allowed and probably would be allowed if you could get the prison authorities to understand what they mean in your religion. Unfortunately that’s an uphill struggle. Non-members in America really, really just don’t “get” garments and find the idea of sacred underwear to be totally bizarre or even silly. Most people will shake their heads and wonder how anyone’s underwear could possibly be such a big deal, and I don’t think there’s much help for it. It’s too peculiar a practice in American culture.

  56. rb on March 5, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    There is no way #49 can be anything other than a very poor attempt at a joke.

    Oh, and please calm your troubled heart. Your nightmare scenario of “faithful Mormons getting tickets for traffic violations” is impossible, because a faithful LDS would never committ a traffic violation. It’s only those of us great unwashed who risk not only speeding tickets but flaunt eternal danger by wearing garments as we speed. (Can we get a pass if we’re speeding to get to church or a HT appointment or the temple?)

  57. Ardis Parshall on March 5, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    I find the idea of a sacred hat to be totally bizarre and even silly. Most people will shake their heads and wonder how anyone’s hat could possibly be such a big deal. Yet we make all kinds of allowances for turbans and yarmulkas and whatever the name is for the Muslim cap.

    Religious clothing isn’t that peculiar in American culture. It’s only parochialism that grants respect to one symbolic article while denying it to another.

    There may not be much help for it, but there’s no justification for pretending that it doesn’t matter or that the fault lies with Mormons.

  58. Mark Brown on March 5, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    rb,

    You have discovered one of the small pleasures of participation in Mormon blogging. You can always find frequent and very funny examples of .

  59. Mark Brown on March 5, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    …examples of Poe’s law.

    http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/Poe's_Law

  60. mpb on March 5, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Mark, that graph is priceless.

  61. James on March 5, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    re: #55 – There is no official statement by the church about illegal immigration in the United States. Despite the concerns of many members about the trashing of the 12th Article of Faith by illegal immigrant members and the indifference of many other members to the fact that illegal immigrants are not ‘honoring, upholding, and sustaining the law,’ the church officially stays far away from the question. The most that the church seems willing to say officially is that immigration is a matter for courts and legislatures and not churches.

    The criteria for temple worthiness is defined very specifically in the Church Handbook of Instructions and in the instructions on the recommend record books issued to every bishop. Bishops and Stake Presidents have been instructed for a very long time, long before immigration was a hot button issue, to stick to the criteria laid out by the church and not add in their own extra rules. Bishops and Stake Presidents are not called to be law enforcement officers and serving law enforcement officers are not called to be bishops or stake presidents.

  62. queuno on March 5, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Don’t be so hard on jettboy.

    He obviously lives in a stake where he’s never actually *met* someone with questionable immigration status, and thus has no concept of what the general authorities actually teach on this subject.

    He’s probably not seen any of the public statements Elder Jensen has made at public meetings in Utah, where Elder Jensen was at the meeting representing the First Presidency…

  63. queuno on March 5, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    … serving law enforcement officers are not called to be bishops or stake presidents.

    Really? Never heard that before, but I guess it makes sense…

  64. Mark B. on March 5, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    In case your [sic] wondering, I seek to follow the speed limit and try very hard not to jaywalk. It is easier to step on the gas, correct your mistake, and then slow down then [sic] decide to cross a boarder [sic]. If I do get a ticket then I am not going to argue that I shouldn’t deserve the consequences or that I didn’t do wrong. Also, I do get unnerved thinking of faithful Mormons getting tickets for traffic violations.

    In case your [sic] wondering, I don’t think speed limits and illegal immigration are of equal magnitude. That is a “legal equivalancy” [sic] I don’t agree with, so the speed limit and jay walking argument doesn’t work. It takes far more time, work, and conscious thought to cross a boarder [sic] than cross a street. If they want to declare [sic] asylum then far less [sic] moral problems [sic the whole %&$# sentence]

    I searched in vain for the html marker “blockheadquote”.

    I get unnerved thinking of faithful [sic] Mormons making typographical and grammatical errors in blog comments.

    “Your” for “you’re”?? Horrors!

    “Boarder”? Is that a guy with a surfboard, or a snowboard or a skateboard? Or is it the guy who lives in your rooming house? I try not to cross any of them, because they tend to be wild and crazy guys, and once crossed, they may attack.

    Using “less” when “fewer” is right? Inexcusable.

    And what’s this “try very hard not to jaywalk.” How do you do that? Is there some irresistible force pulling you across the street, which, despite a valiant struggle, wins out from time to time? Why not just accept the basic law of nature, that the earth was made for people to walk on, that cars and other vehicles are interlopers, and they can darn well slow down and yield to the pedestrian as the law requires? Or do you favor the death penalty for jaywalkers too?

  65. bbell on March 5, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    “Bishops and Stake Presidents are not called to be law enforcement officers and serving law enforcement officers are not called to be bishops or stake presidents.”

    wanna bet? My cousin is a border patrol agent and a Bishop and turns a blind eye to illegals in his ward. The border wards and stakes are rife with border patrol PH leaders and many many congregants are illegals.

  66. bbell on March 5, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Also there is a commander of a local SWAT unit in my stake who is also a bishop

  67. James on March 5, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    bbell – If that is true, then your cousin is violating his oath as a Border Patrol officer and is setting a very bad example of a police officer. Police officers deciding who they will arrest for a given offense is a step on the road to tyranny. I do live very close to the border although not as close as I used to. In the near border stakes that I have lived in there are no law enforcement officers serving as priesthood leaders other than quorum leaders.

  68. bbell on March 5, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    He has instructions from the regional authorities to avoid the issue of illegal immigration with ward members. In fact lots of his time is spent trying to help ward members with their status and applying for citizenship.

  69. bandanamom on March 5, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    We’ve had a police officer in our Stake presidency in the recent past and a border patrol agent in a Bishopric. They’ve kept their duties at church and their duties as a public servant separate.

  70. mpb on March 5, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    “your cousin is violating his oath as a Border Patrol officer”

    eh…that may be a stretch. i assume you mean that when a officer-bishop turns a blind eye to illegal immigrants in his ward, he has violated the oath to support and defend the Constitution? or is there some other oath language i am not familiar with?

    because to my thinking, when a bishop is aware of illegal immigrants in his ward, that knowledge is protected by ecclesiastical immunity (which the constitution permits in many forms). i can see how it would be difficult to wear both hats, but not impossible, and definitely not unethical.

  71. Starfoxy on March 5, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    He obviously lives in a stake where he’s never actually *met* someone with questionable immigration status, and thus has no concept of what the general authorities actually teach on this subject.
    I agree. There was a woman in my ward who came into the states on a perfectly legal student visa, and while she was here met and legally married a man (in the Temple!). It was only after they married and started the process of naturalization that they were informed that she was supposed to have exited the states, applied for a marriage visa, then re-entered the states, and then get married.
    After that they were embroiled in a two year long nightmare of paperwork and hearings, during which time her student visa expired. She was unable to hold a job or drive a car, or do much of anything. They were afraid to start having kids because if she was deported it would be several years before she could re-enter the states even though she was legally married to a US citizen.

    So yeah, totally being dishonest. Totally.

  72. Peter LLC on March 5, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    I reckon a few of the immigration hardliners would probably be a little more sympathetic if they would just inform themselves of the chicanery the US subjects its would-be immigrants to.

  73. kevinf on March 5, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Immigration laws are tricksy at best, but that just adds to the threadjack here. Kent, good luck in pursuing this for your ward member. The courts tend to be much more understanding and flexible than the ICE (or the old INS, where I witnessed a number of abuses).

    Bottom line is that your member should be allowed to wear his garments.

    And just an FYI, I often speed on my way to the temple, because I’m usually late getting home from work, and rushed getting there. I still go anyway, and have a great experience. I also try not to cross boarders, as I am fearful that they may hit me with theirs, especially the side with the trucks/wheels.

  74. Bridget Jack Meyers on March 5, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    #57 Ardis:

    Religious clothing isn’t that peculiar in American culture.

    Religious outerwear isn’t. Religious underwear is.

    There may not be much help for it, but there’s no justification for pretending that it doesn’t matter or that the fault lies with Mormons.

    Neither of which is my position. I’m all for garments being regarded in the same vein as turbans, yarmulkas and rosaries. I simply understand why that’s a hard paradigm shift for most non-members to make and why the prison overlords in question aren’t listening.

  75. Sam B. on March 5, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Bridget,
    Not so. Check out http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/2008/09/Religious-Underwear.aspx

    I knew about the Jewish and (of course) Mormon, undergarments, but wasn’t aware of the others. I’d be unsurprised to know that there are more, still.

  76. Bridget Jack Meyers on March 5, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Sam, I’d actually heard of most of those before, but I would question how commonly they’re practiced in the United States apart from the Jewish and LDS ones. I think the problem with people not being accepting of sacred undergarments is sort of self-perpetuating. They accept outerwear because they get accustomed to it by seeing it regularly, and that can’t really happen with religious undergarments.

    I get other non-members asking me about garments all the time, figuring that I’ll give them the “real” story on it where they fear members might be shy about it, and they really do find it strange and are curious. I think the only help for making the practice more widely respected is for members to be open about explaining it when asked, and I know that many pro-LDS Internet sites do this. However, the “mind your own business and don’t bother me about my underwear” response kind of perpetuates the problem.

  77. Sam B. on March 5, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Bridget,
    You are definitely right that the fact of being under clothing makes garments (and the other religious clothing) less noticeable, and therefore we’re less used to it than a yarmulka. But partly it should be a matter of diversity, too–where I am, there are plenty of Orthodox Jews, Hindus, and even Sikkhs.

    Irrespective, though, Kent’s friend’s constitutional rights are probably being violated (because the First Amendment applies, if I remember my Con Law correctly, even if one is in the U.S. illegally). And I think it’s totally sad that any governmental agency would try to deny that. Especially, as with Kent’s friend, where the person doesn’t have the option of leaving.

  78. manaen on March 5, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    FWIW, I always try stay under the speed limit while jaywalking.
    .
    I was picked up and jailed for a few days for the incident which had led to my earlier disfellowshipment. There was no hope for wearing my temple garments there. My explanation that they had religious significance for me was not even heard. (Some day I may share how they had kept me on the favorable side of the line between disfellowshipment and excommunication).
    .
    Regarding illegal immigrants: as I understand the issue, the conservative position is: (1) that because it’s a law, we must enforce it and (2) that the point of the law is to keep other people out so that their entrance won’t lower the standard of living that we who are in now enjoy; that the purpose of the law is to assure that we have a more-favorable living condition than do our excluded brothers and sisters.
    .
    I don’t understand how the second point squares with Jacob 2:13-17.
    .
    I believe in “honoring, obeying, and sustaining the law, which I take to mean the adhering to the concept of laws to govern our society. As for the first point, about obeying a law because it is law, my view is informed by these words in D&C 134:8, “…all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment” which creates in my mind a distinction between how he respond to good and to bad laws. It also is a way out of an apparent dilemma for both the Church and for me regarding illegal immigrants.

  79. manaen on March 5, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    78.
    OK, link to Jacob 2:13-17 doesn’t work. Here’s the text:
    .
    13 And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they.
    14 And now, my brethren, do ye suppose that God justifieth you in this thing? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. But he condemneth you, and if ye persist in these things his judgments must speedily come unto you.
    15 O that he would show you that he can pierce you, and with one glance of his eye he can smite you to the dust!
    16 O that he would rid you from this iniquity and abomination. And, O that ye would listen unto the word of his commands, and let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls!
    17 Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you. [emphasis added]

  80. Ardis Parshall on March 5, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    However, the “mind your own business and don’t bother me about my underwear” response kind of perpetuates the problem.

    This may be conveniently (if with tongue in cheek) blamed on Bill Clinton. If he had had the dignity to say “mind your own business and don’t bother me about my underwear” when impertinently asked “boxers or briefs?” then the rest of us could have controlled the rudeness with a frosty stare.

  81. Mark Brown on March 5, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    James, #61,

    There is no official statement by the church about illegal immigration in the United States.

    You are simply mistaken, unless you think letters signed by the First Presidency are not official statements.

    Every year or so they send out a letter to bishops and SPs reminding them that a member’s immigration status has no bearing whatsoever on that member’s eligibility for a recommend, callings, fast offering assistance, and so on. The “uphold the law” argument as it applies to TRs is nothing more than a canard, and a pretty shabby one at that.

  82. Raymond Takashi Swenson on March 5, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    A couple of decades ago, a Supreme Court decision held that the military rules about uniform apparel and hair overrode the personal interest in wearing clothing and hairstyles with religious significance. In reaction to that, Orrin Hatch sponsored a bill that was passed into law requiring the armed forces to accommodate religious behavior related to clothing and hairstyle unless there was a specific operational need for them. Hatch was specifically concerned with LDS garments, but other congressmen were focusing on wear of crosses and crucifixes (not the same thing) under outer clothing, and of yarmulkes for Orthodox Jews (for times when they were not wearing military headgear). Each year on Ash Wednesday, Catholics in the military go down to the chapel and a priest places a cross made of ash on their foreheads.

    Military requirements that the undershirt be high enough to be seen under an open collar uniform shirt led to some modifications of garments. The requirement for separate underwear shirts and briefs in the military (which facilitate medical care in combat) led to two-piece garments for service members (also decreasing the need for a large, step-in collar, which met the earlier military requirement), which then became acceptable and then standard for all members. When the military required darker, non-white underwear to be worn with the Battle Dress Uniform (the fighting uniforms), the church allowed members with military ID to order garments dyed in those colors. In the interim, members were allowed to sew marks into standard military underwear.

    So the accommodation of military concerns has influenced the garments worn by most members today. Where garments may conflict with work requirements, members are told by the church that it is OK to forego garments when there is no compromise available. And of course I don’t know any LDS who wear garments under their swimsuits.

    As far as the law goes, the Supreme Court has tended to lay only a light burden on employers to justify requirements that tend to prevent employees from wearing religious garb, especially with private emloyers. It is when the restrictions are either discriminatory against one religion or have no rational basis that the courts will tend to find an encroachment on religious freedom. Accomodation of religious practices in the work place is very much a creature of statute rather than specific court interpretations of the First Amendment.

  83. SC Taysom on March 5, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    The Army and Air Force use the OD and tan garments. For members in the USMC, the standard issue t-shirts (which are a different shade of green) are sent to SLC and marked there. At least that was the case a couple of years ago.

  84. Alison Moore Smith on March 5, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    #55 Bridget:

    Whew. I am relieved to know that when I privately think garments are unappealing in so many ways, I’m not just being a callous non-member.

    I don’t know how callous either of us might be, but I’m not feeling like a Victoria’s Secret model in mine most of the time. (Whether or not I do without them is not up for discussion.)

    That aside, it’s just a heck of a lot harder to make fun of a set of beads or a cloth shoulder wrap than someone’s under clothing. It makes us rather an easy target.

  85. Kent Larsen on March 5, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    I want to thank everyone for their comments and suggestions. Given previous posts on immigration issues, I’m not too surprised at the anti-immigration reactions — although I was pleasantly surprised that there were so few commentators who took the time to state their anti-immigration feelings. I hope that perhaps some might have either learned something that affects their judgement on this issue, or stuck to the topic of whether wearing garments is a human right — something that we should perhaps push for (in our work-within-the-system-instead-of-protest Mormon way).

    Regardless, I should point out a few things that may correct impressions or clarify the situation I face:

    * In the detention facility here in New York, detainees put their clothing into mesh laundry bags marked with their names. These are then taken off-site to be laundered, and returned to the detainee in the same bag. We are pretty sure that the clothing is laundered in the bags. This makes me fairly comfortable with my friend wearing garments in the facility, since they likely won’t go to anyone else by accident this way.

    * Just to reiterate, the problem is that my friend is being prevented from wearing garments by the facility. He doesn’t have a choice in the matter.

    If you don’t like the idea that illegal immigrants can wear garments, it really doesn’t matter in this situation, because it is not the Church that is making the decision. Its the facility!

    Jetboy, you didn’t address this issue. Please tell me what a Church member who has not committed a crime, but who is incarcerated, should do if not permitted to wear garments.

    * One additional comment on the immigration issue – the practical consequences of not allowing illegal immigrants to wear garments are frightening. Last I heard, the Church has over 640 Spanish-speaking congregations in the continental US. I’d guess that a least 1/3rd of the members in those congregations (on average) are illegal, and that includes many leaders. Making a change like this would create huge staffing problems and exclude as much as 100,000 members or more from the blessings of the Temple.

    * Thank you to Sam B. (#75) and others who made practical suggestions and provided relevant information. I hope to include the information in the materials I present in making the formal request that my friend be allowed to wear garments.

    I hope no one will be put out if I delay in contacting them for their contacts for congressmen and senators or the ACLU. Our plan is to work through the standard channels first, and use outside pressure only after that fails. We have a (perhaps irrational) fear that my friend may be deported quickly, moved to another facility or have other reprisals taken should we approach this issue in the wrong way.

    * I appreciaed Starfoxy’s comment (#71) in particular. My friend’s situation is similar — he too married an American citizen (in the Temple) without realizing that the proper procedure was to return to his home country and apply from there before getting married.

    To be honest, immigration procedures are mind-blowingly complex, and it isn’t reasonable to expect most immigrants to know what to do without the help of an experienced attorney. At least twice my friend has been given incorrect advice by attorneys, which has complicated his case considerably.

    The US procedures for handling immigration also make this difficult. My friend was originally included on his mother’s application for admittance to the US as a youth. But the mother’s application took 13 YEARS! By that time, he was too old to be brought in by his mother legally. Doesn’t seem very fair to me, or to him. So, right or wrong, he came illegally.

    * I also appreciate the comments about the attitudes of ICE personnel. I hope those attitudes aren’t true everywhere in that agency. I do have to point out that I have yet to deal directly with any ICE people. The detention facility is run by a contractor, not ICE personnel. They seem to pay attention more to the bottom line than anything else (for example, my friend hasn’t been able to eat vegetables since entering the facility almost a month ago. Apparently they don’t value serving balanced meals.)

    This complicates things, of course, because its easy for the contractor and ICE to blame each other for anything wrong, instead of fixing the problem. I still have to find time to figure out if the contract for running these facilities is available online somewhere, or if I will have to file a FOA request to see it, or if it is somehow protected as a matter of “national security.”

    * And last, I had hoped for a little more international experience on this. I’m certain that there is detention of illegal immigrants in Europe and in South Africa, and I’m curious as to what might happen there along these lines, and if they would also have problems with a detainee wearing garments (given the numbers of Mormons among the illegal immigrants these countries see, it may not have even come up yet).

  86. Nicole on March 5, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    I can understand your hesitation to elevate this more than it needs to be. No offense on my part.

    I’d love to see an updates on this issue.

  87. Jeff Day on March 6, 2009 at 12:03 am

    When the Stake President told me that I would be directed to stop wearing the garment if I were to be excommunicated it was very offensive to me. Nothing in LDS doctrine or teaching that I was aware of would suggest that Church leaders ‘discipline’ can include directions for you to violate other holy injunctions given to you previously. I call it a holy injunction and not a covenant because I don’t hear a specific “covenant” about wearing the garment in the Temple, but there is an injunction that you “must” wear it “throughout your life.”

    I intend to live up to the commandments I believe are holy regardless of whether or not my Stake President considered me to be under some sort of discipline. I responded to him, “You can request it.” And he replied that it was true that they could not force me to stop wearing the garment. In the end, I was not excommunicated, by the way, but I did end up resigning my membership voluntarily. Nonetheless, I continue to wear the garment. I am forced to order through a friend or manufacture my own if I need new ones, which I accept as their right since they are selling their own goods.

    But, the thought that they would direct me to stop wearing them, that they would have the audacity to think they could direct me to do such a thing, contrary to the instruction given in the Temple, really struck me. It reminded me of the message written on the back of “my” Safeway card that says the card may be revoked by Safeway at any time – How silly. The same type of message on a Temple recommend is a different matter entirely though, because who enters one of their Temples is “their business.” So yes, I feel that we all have a human right to wear the garment. I purchased the garments from them, there was a receipt and everything, so I own them. No one else owns them, and as they are my property I can decide what to do with them. And, they are considered sacred by me, as are the rest of the Temple clothing are.

    I realize I’m weighing in on a different scenario, or a different side of the coin, here, but the theme is the same. I recognize myself as being of a different religion than that which the LDS Church teaches today, even though I share many beliefs and practices. I imagine (although I admit that I’m not sure – haven’t asked around) that many LDS people would consider it improper for me to continue wearing garments and utilizing the other Temple clothing. But, what would you feel like if members of another Church told you that you shouldn’t wear them in your sacred contexts?

    Its a difficult subject. Its an emotional subject. I get some perspective by realizing that there are a lot of groups dealing with harsher types of persecution today, which makes this seem insignificant in comparison.

  88. Mark D. on March 6, 2009 at 12:20 am

    Every year or so they send out a letter to bishops and SPs reminding them that a member’s immigration status has no bearing whatsoever on that member’s eligibility for a recommend, callings, fast offering assistance, and so on.

    I don’t doubt that is the case. That is not quite the same thing as saying as issuing a statement that immigration law is an exception to the general obligation to obey, honor, and sustain the law.

    LDS representative to foreign official: You have nothing to worry about, we teach our people to honor, obey, and sustain the law of whatever country they reside in – except immigration laws of course, we make a principled exception for that

  89. mpb on March 6, 2009 at 12:37 am

    Kent, thanks for the clarification on ICE’s level of oversight of the facility. I should have known.

  90. DavidH on March 6, 2009 at 12:46 am

    “Every year or so they send out a letter to bishops and SPs reminding them that a member’s immigration status has no bearing whatsoever on that member’s eligibility for a recommend, callings, fast offering assistance, and so on.”

    Has anyone here seen the letter mentioned? We have followed this policy in our stake for many years, but I never heard before that there was a letter from the FP on the subject.

  91. Ray on March 6, 2009 at 12:55 am

    #87 – Jeff, just something for you to consider:

    Garments are one thing; “other temple clothing” is quite another – if by that you mean more than just a tie and white pants. I won’t argue with you if you want to continue to wear garments respectfully. I could make a good argument as to why it could be considered wrong, but I understand totally your reasoning and respect your commitment to it. (Btw, wearing the garment IS a “covenant” in every way imaginable, as there is a direct and explicit promise of a blessing associated with it. Saying it is not a covenant but rather a “holy injunction” makes no sense whatsoever when “covenant” is defined as it is in the temple and in Mormonism generally.)

    “Utilizing the other Temple clothing” outside the temple, however, is neither a covenant nor a “holy injunction” (nor is it commanded or counseled or encouraged or allowed in any scriptures ever recorded of which I am aware) – so doing so is totally and unquestionably blasphemous in my mind. Garments are not exclusively “temple clothing”; “other temple clothing” is exclusively temple clothing. Using it as anything else . . . I certainly would never go there.

  92. Ray on March 6, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Excellent post, Kent. I’ve enjoyed nearly all of the comments and agree that not allowing this man to wear his garments under the conditions you’ve described is stupid, narrow-minded or simply ignorant, and patently illegal. I hope you are successful in your efforts.

  93. James on March 6, 2009 at 2:20 am

    Mark #81 – I stand by my statement that there is no official public statement of the Church stance on U.S. immigration law. Administrative directives to bishops and stake presidents are not public statements of church policy and in the case that you are referring to is issued only to reinforce the instructions for recommend interviews that the only criteria for worthiness are those detailed in the official questions.

    I would like to see such a statement. A public statement of Church policy posted at LDS.org would settle that matter and allow members to decide where they stand.

  94. queuno on March 6, 2009 at 4:13 am

    For the record -

    I went to lds.org and searched on units with (Spanish) in their name in the United States and Canada:

    Stakes: 7 (5 in CA, 2 in TX)

    Wards/Branches: 713

    Even in Quebec.

  95. queuno on March 6, 2009 at 4:18 am

    Marlin Jensen said last year that the Church had no stance on immigration policy. Not sure how authoritative we want to consider that…

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695253048,00.html

    It would be great if we had the full text, but it probably wouldn’t matter to most folks. (Why is it that we consider statements made by an apostle BEFORE he became president of the Church to be authoritative, but don’t consider statements made by other GAs to have the same weight? Does becoming president of the Church automatically grandfather in everything someone ever said?)

    And it seems a bit silly NOT to consider administrative instructions as matters of policy.

  96. Jeff Day on March 6, 2009 at 4:25 am

    #91 Ray, thanks for your response to my particular case and I am comforted to hear that at least someone else would stand for my rights to continue to wear the garment.

    As far as “other temple clothing” goes, I only use it in the attendance and performance of regular temple ordinances, done with the same sanctity and solemnity as the mainstream LDS, albet in a different Temple, of humbler construction, as well as in the performance of Prayer Circles performed in private at a family altar, with other endowed Priesthood holders (by the definition of my faith, however unaccepted that might be to the mainstream), as has been discussed elsewhere in the bloggernacle on several occasions. There is no blasphemy to it from my point of view. I don’t wear them to go on a walk around town, visit the supermarket, or attend protest rallies in them, or anything like that.

  97. can't stand hypocrites on March 6, 2009 at 10:10 am

    I always find it amusing when certain types of Mormons who disagree with the church on gay marriage fault people who disagree with the church on illegal immigration. Particularly if the church has “no official policy on illegal immigration” and while the church DOES have “an official policy on gay marriage.”

  98. Mark Brown on March 6, 2009 at 10:28 am

    # 90, DavidH,

    Yes, I have personally seen and read the letters. There have been two of them in the last seven years, that I know of.

    #97

    I always find it amusing when certain types of Mormons who disagree with the church on gay marriage fault people who disagree with the church on illegal immigration.

    True enough. Of course, it works in reverse, too. As a very wise man has explained, we are all cafeteria Mormons, but only some of us will admit it.

  99. Mark D. on March 6, 2009 at 10:40 am

    The Church has no stance on immigration policy. That is not controversial.

    It would be perfectly legitimate for the Church to adopt the position that existing immigration laws are counterproductive and should be repealed. However, it would be another thing entirely for the Church to promote the idea that immigration law is an exception to the general obligation to honor, obey, and sustain the law as it stands. Big difference.

  100. Mark B. on March 6, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Kent,

    On the facts as you stated them, I wonder why your friend is not eligible to adjust status under Section 245(i).

    The requirements are that he (1) (a) be entitled to classification as an immigrant under a petition filed before January 1998 (don’t remember the specific date) or (b) that he be entitled to classification as an immigrant under a petition filed before April 30, 2001, and was in the US on December 21, 2000, (2) that the petition was “approvable when filed” and (3) that he have some basis now (whether the original petition or some other petition) for adjustment. It sounds as if he would have qualified as a deriviative beneficiary under the petition that somebody filed for his mother.

    On the other hand, if he was ever detained by INS or ICE or CBP and ordered removed from the U.S., that would affect his eligibility.

    As to the detention facilities, ICE contracts with all sorts of entities–states, counties, private companies. I’ve met with clients at the jail in Paterson, NJ, where the immigration detainees are kept in the general prison population and treated just the same as the guys doing time for robbery and assault and other crimes.

  101. Alison Moore Smith on March 6, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    …although I was pleasantly surprised that there were so few commentators who took the time to state their anti-immigration feelings.

    For some reason this clarification seems to be needed repeatedly. While I admit that I skimmed some of the comments, none could be, in my opinion, fairly described as “anti-immigration.” “Anti-illegal-immigration,” yes.

    To me that’s like calling someone who is fighting against LDS perpetrators of fraud, “anti-Mormon.”

  102. Timj on March 6, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Alison,
    Do you honestly think these people would welcome changing US laws to allow many more Latinos into the US? I’m guessing these individuals are also anti-amnesty, even though that would be a very legal way of going about things.
    So yes, I think anti-immigration is, for the most part, an accurate name for them.
    Jettboy and co, correct me if I’m wrong and you would like to change the laws and grant these people amnesty or allow many more of them in legally than we’re letting in currently…

  103. Kent Larsen on March 6, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Alison, you did catch me in a misstatement — the idea I intended was anti-illegal-immigration.

    However, Timj’s point was also very good. Let me just add that these same people are often anti-foreign-aid also, which puts them squarely against the best tool the US government has to induce would-be illegal immigrants to stay in their home countries. Given the amount we spend on immigration enforcement and the relative difference in wages between ICE personnel and the middle class in Mexico and other common sources of illegal immigration, I wonder if it wouldn’t be cheaper and more effective to use that money to pay salaries there to those most likely to try to immigrate illegally, rather than pay higher costs here.

  104. Kent Larsen on March 6, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Mark B (100): I’ll pass on your suggestion. I should remind you (didn’t mention it above because it didn’t seem relevant) that this is the same friend who had a drug conviction (from 1999) from before he cleaned up and before he became an active member, a high priest and a member of two bishoprics. You will know much better than I whether or not the 245(i) option would still work or not.

  105. Ray on March 6, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    #96 – Jeff, thanks for the clarification. If the “other temple clothing” is of your own making and used within the context of your own religious faith, I have no objections. If it is made by the LDS Church, that’s a different story.

    Let’s end this threadjack. I appreciate the chance to talk with you about it, but it’s probably reached its natural end.

  106. Bull Moose on March 6, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Timj: “Do you honestly think these people would welcome changing US laws to allow many more Latinos into the US?”

    I can’t answer for Alison, but I can answer for me and many others who share my belief on illegal immigration: Yes!!

    So long as we maintain a process to screen those who come in for communicable health issues, tuberculosis for one, and a purpose that is mutually beneficial (and don’t use the cannard, “To do jobs Americans won’t.” In today’s economy that dog won’t hunt!), then yes, I would welcome more immigrants regardless of their country, depending on what furthers our national interest. I’m for increasing efficiency in the immigration and nationalization process. But what purpose is served by dismantling the process or watering it down?

    And, thank you, by the way, for your hateful overgeneralization of those who oppose illegal immigration. It’s great to ice any discussion by demonizing your opponent isn’t it, Timj?

  107. Timj on March 6, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Bull Moose,
    I’m sorry if you thought I was demonizing. That wasn’t my intention.
    Thank you for your reply.
    So I take it that you’d welcome opening the borders to more immigrants (probably predominantly Latinos) to do lower forms of labor when the economy improves, as long as they’re screened for diseases?

  108. Bull Moose on March 6, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    Kent Larsen (103): “these same people”

    Why do the learned think they are wise?

    Kent, if someone were referring to Latinos who are immigrants and painted them all with the same broad brush (“all those illegals working at the McDonalds”), wouldn’t your ire be raised by the use of this stereotype to further an argument? And yet, you echo Timj’s ridiculous claim that those who are anti-illegal immigration are by definition anti-immigration, just because you say so.

    Why do you suppose many who are frustrated by the effects of illegal-immigration go to great lengths to point out that they are *not* against immigration in general? Or does it not matter, because most of them are just racist for talking about illegal immigration anyway?

    This logic just cracks me up!

  109. Bull Moose on March 6, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Timj, why in the world would you take it that that is what I would welcome, unless you were deliberately twisting what I wrote?

    Our current immigration policy includes health screenings, often different levels for individuals from different areas of the world. I believe that if we change our immigration laws to increase legal immigration, we must maintain this for public safety.

    I take it that you think it is inhumane to subject people who want to immigrate to the U.S. to health screenings?

    I also believe a sensible immigration policy should encourage those with skills and resources our country needs to come to our country.

    I take it that you think that the poverty-stricken unskilled laborer should be allowed to come to the U.S. whether or not he can get work here, because being in poverty here is better here than being in poverty in the country he came from?

    See, I can play the overgeneralization game too. But it doesn’t help you to understand my position any more than it helps me understand yours. I just think you are a self-important jackass and you think I’m an uncaring racist. Huzzah for American politics!

  110. Jonovitch on March 7, 2009 at 1:15 am

    “No member of the church who is in this country illegaly [sic] should be considered in good standing” (Daknife, comment 4).

    Does this include the teenage boy in my ward who joined the Church a couple years ago, whose parents brought him into the country when he was just a toddler? Is he the perpetrator of a crime or some grave deception and blatant dishonesty? Should he return to his native country, leaving his family, education, and the only home he really knows, simply so he can be considered (by some abstract measurement) “in good standing”?

    Extreme philosophies rarely yield practical solutions.

    BTW, garments are a sacred religious symbol. Darn right they should be protected by law, incarceration or not.

    Jon

  111. Alex Valencic on March 7, 2009 at 11:11 am

    While I fear that this is simply taking this thread further away from its intended purpose, I want to weigh in briefly on this “anti-immigration v. anti-illegal-immigration” discussion.

    I am very much opposed to illegal immigration. I understand that the US immigration laws make it very difficult to come into the nation, even on a visa, and that we need some major immigration reform. (It is my understanding that we have the toughest immigration laws of any nation in the world.) I also understand that there is a difference between illegally crossing the border and overstaying a visa. I have a great deal of sympathy or those who thought that they had followed the immigration laws, only to find out that they had erred. It seems as if Kent’s friend falls under this category.

    I strongly support legal immigration. Immigration is the life-blood of the United States of America. All of us come from immigrant stock. Immigrants bring new ideas and new culture. They are vital to the success of our nation, particularly as globalization increases. Immigration is also vital to the success of our institute’s of higher learning.

    So no, not all people who are opposed to illegal immigration are opposed to all forms of immigration. And when there is a proposal for immigration reform that does not simply tell everyone who came here illegally (note the difference between coming illegally and being here illegally) that they are welcome to stay, I’ll support it!

  112. Bridget Jack Meyers on March 7, 2009 at 11:24 am

    #84 Alison: It’s nice to hear an opinion like that from a member. I’m fortunate in that my husband doesn’t mind me telling him exactly what I think of his garments. Not something I’ll ever blog about for fear of being rude to my LDS friends, but I certainly say it to him. I get what they represent and I get why they’re worn, but I’m sure glad they’re not part of my religion.

    #111: Alex, are you an in-law to Meredith Valencic? She was my roommate in Heritage Halls from 2001-2002. Sorry for the off-topic question.

  113. Alison Moore Smith on March 7, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    #102 Timj:

    Do you honestly think these people would welcome changing US laws to allow many more Latinos into the US?

    I think there is no other implication in your question than that anyone opposed to immigration (legal or otherwise) must be racist. (I also think it would be racist to make a law with the intent to provide something only for a particular ethnic group.) Since I think that position is devoid of logic, I’ll leave it to you to defend.

    My brother married a non-American woman nearly two years ago. Their wedding was delayed about a year due to massive paperwork they thought was done. It was a pain, yes. But they spent the time and money to follow the legal procedure. To be clear, no, I wasn’t the least bit opposed to her immigration–nor that of her daughter–since they followed existing law.

    Every time I have lived in or visited another country, I have followed the laws there.

    I think there’s an inherent problem in a country based on rule of law, when many residents have chosen to ignore the law just to get here and perpetuate the breaking of that law each day they remain.

    Apparently it is also difficult to maintain that position without breaking other laws as well. In the past year a company in Lindon, Utah, (where we are building a home) was raided. Over half of the illegal aliens arrested were using identities stolen from legal American citizens. If you haven’t lived through that, you might not understand what a devastating crime that is.

    I don’t give a hoot about the ethnic backgrounds of US residents. But I do care if they don’t respect our laws. The former is inconsequential. The latter is not.

  114. Tim on March 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    I don’t think it’s necessarily racism.
    I think they’d react the same way if a large number of Russians wanted to enter into the US.
    Some fear the loss of their jobs due to competition, and some fear the presence of “others,” regardless of whether they’re a different race or not. Some just believe everything they hear on AM radio. Some believe in adherence to the law in every detail.
    I’m sure there a lot of different reasons out there.
    For the most part, all of these types I mentioned, except possibly the last type, are against letting more immigrants in than we already do, and are against granting amnesty to those here illegally.
    Be careful, however, if you claim to be the type who believes in strict adherence to the law. Illegal immigrants often (but admittedly not always) have very noble reasons for being here–they want to escape a bad family situation at home, they want to make money to send back home, they want their children to live and be born in the land of opportunity, they want to be able to work, and there are no jobs at home…
    When Americans break laws (as most of us do) our reasons are usually less noble. We got up late and want to make it to work on time, so we speed. We want to save a little money on taxes, so we fib a bit or “estimate” in some area on our 1040s. We fish slightly over the limit. We…you get the point.
    I do know people who are very strict letter-of-the-law types in their own lives, and who, largely for that reason, are anti-illegal-immigration. And that’s fine.

  115. sister blah 2 on March 7, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Over half of the illegal aliens arrested were using identities stolen from legal American citizens. If you haven’t lived through that, you might not understand what a devastating crime that is.

    Alison, the only “stolen identities” I’ve ever heard illegal immigrants using are faked SSNs. The only result of this is that they are paying money into some Sally Smith’s retirement account, thus resulting in more money for Sally when she retires that she didn’t actually earn. Oh noes!!

    You really don’t hear of cases of horrible fraud when it comes to illegal immigrants, although I’m sure it’s happened occasionally. American citizens also do that to each other occasionally.

  116. can't stand hypocrites on March 8, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Not so Sister Blah,
    Even according to severely liberal msnbc:
    “the Social Security Administration collects the money, but the wage credits go into limbo. They don’t end up on anyone’s annual Social Security statement, they end up in something called the Earnings Suspense File. Since 1984, when the Social Security card employment verification requirement kicked in, nearly $500 billion in wages has ended up in that file. ..
    If somebody uses your number to get a credit card or car loan, the nation’s credit bureaus create a new credit file instead of alerting you to the misuse.

    Victims only find out when something goes wrong — when there are unpaid taxes or unpaid bills, debt collectors often track down the original SSN holder.
    SSN-only ID theft victim Margaret Harrison was once denied unemployment because records showed she had a job. Harrison was in West Virginia — her Social Security number was working on a farm in Washington state. She couldn’t prove her problem until recently, however, when she received a debit card with her impostor’s picture on it. ”
    http://redtape.msnbc.com/2006/03/hidden_cost_of_.html

  117. can't stand hypocrites on March 8, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Therefore to claim that victims of identity theft are helped by illegal immigration is a blatant falsehood.

  118. Alex Valencic on March 8, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    #112 Bridget, yes, as a matter of fact, is married to my brother! You can find her blog by clicking on my name–it is listed on my Friends and Family blogroll. Small world, huh?

    And now, in a vague attempt to bring this discussion back to the question of the rights to wear the Garment, I decided to go back to the beginning and read the Operations Manual that was linked. I believe that the most pertinent portion is in item H under section V:

    “Introduction of New and Unfamiliar Religious Components

    If a detainee requests the introduction of a new or unfamiliar religious practice, the chaplain may ask the detainee to provide additional information to use in deciding whether to include the practice.

    “Detainees may make a request for the introduction of a new component to the Religious Services program (schedule, meeting time and space, religious items and attire) to the chaplain. The chaplain shall ask the detainee to provide additional information to use in deciding whether to include the practice. Ordinarily, the process will require up to 30 business days for completion.

    “The chaplain shall research the request and make recommendations to the facility administrator, who shall add his or her own recommendations and forward them to the respective Field Office Director for approval. Such decisions are subject to the facility’s requirement to maintain a safe, secure and orderly facility, and the availability of staff for supervision. The Field Office Director shall forward the final decision to the facility administrator, and the chaplain shall communicate the decision to the detainee.”

    As it seems most likely that the individuals in the facility are unfamiliar with the religious significance of the Garment, then there needs to be a request for it to be formally acknowledged. Pointing out that similarity with other religious property, as outlined in item J:
    “Religious Property

    “Each facility administrator shall allow detainees access to personal religious property, as is consistent with safety, security and orderly operation of the facility. To comply with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, IGSAs should also adhere to these guidelines.

    “If necessary, the religious significance of such items shall be verified by the chaplain prior to facility administrator approval.
    Detainee religious property includes but is not limited to rosaries and prayer beads, oils, prayer rugs, prayer rocks, phylacteries, medicine pouches, and religious medallions. Such items are part of a detainee’s personal property and are subject to normal considerations of safety, security and orderly operation of the facility.

    “As is consistent with safety, security, and orderly operation of the facility, the facility administrator:

    “Shall ordinarily allow a detainee to wear or use personal religious items during religious services, ceremonies, and meetings in the chapel, and

    “May, upon request of a detainee, allow a detainee to wear or use certain religious items throughout the facility.

    “The facility administrator may direct the chaplain to obtain information and advice from representatives of the detainee’s faith group or other appropriate sources about the religious significance of the items.

    “Items of religious wearing apparel include, but are not limited to:
    Prayer shawls and robes,
    Kurda or ribbon shirts,
    Medals and pendants,
    Beads, and
    Various types of headwear.

    “Religious headwear, notably kufis, yarmulkes, turbans, crowns, and headbands, as well as scarves and head wraps for orthodox Muslim and Jewish women, are permitted in all areas of the facility, subject to the normal considerations of safety, security and orderly operation of the facility, including inspection by staff.”

    The most important clause in that section is the “not limited to” clause, which is preceded by directions to acquire “advice from representatives of the detainee’s faith”.

    So it sounds like you are going through the proper motions. It is just that they (ICE) allows a month for everything to be processed. I’m interested to learn how this all pans out for your friends, and if ICE will make amendments to their manual to reflect it.

  119. Justmeherenow on March 8, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    While the paperwork of his/your request is being processed, mail him garments with an accompanying letter of explanation on official LDS stationary, using your ecclesiastical title — and send a copy to the chaplain (…reason being that there’s a chance they’d just give the garments to him, after an informal OK from the chaplain…..).

  120. Kaimi on March 11, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Related question, Alex — do you have a sister named Amanda?

  121. Alex Valencic on March 11, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Kaimi, yes, Amanda Valencic is my sister. She called this evening and told me that you know each other. Small world, indeed!

  122. Wes Dean on March 11, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Mithril, anyone?

  123. Julie Reid on March 14, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    As long as an economic gradient exists such that a US dollar can purchase a meaningful life back in an immigrants home country, immigrants will continue to come. Hasn’t any of these “anti-immigrant” LDS served missions in Latin America? Didn’t you see any malnourished children, whose parents invited you over for dinner & you ashamedly ate what they lovingly prepared for you, knowing they didn’t eat that well every day?
    I am of Native American heritage. I wonder where Jettboy’s ancestor’s came from & what the immigration laws were then? Did his ancestors come here legally? I wonder how many American Indians they killed? Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

  124. Alison Moore Smith on March 15, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Posted by: sister blah 2 The only result of this is that they are paying money into some Sally Smith’s retirement account, thus resulting in more money for Sally when she retires that she didn’t actually earn. Oh noes!!

    You couldn’t be more wrong. How do I know? Because it happened to me in 2005 and I’m still dealing with it. But I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve only lost $6,000 so far…and counting.

    Posted by: Julie Reid: Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

    You have a point. Open the jails. Repeal all the laws. Since all of us sin, no one has the right to enforce anything.

  125. Kent Larsen on March 15, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Alison, I have to strongly condemn your response to Julie Reid. You know as well as I do (and it is very clear from the context of her message) that her saying “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” isn’t advocating lawlessness, but instead recognizing that many of us have ancestors who disobeyed immigration laws to get here.

    My own ancestor led tens of thousands of people into a foreign country to settle without making any effort whatsoever to contact legal authorities for permission.

    His name was Brigham Young. Perhaps your ancestors were among the “illegal immigrants” he led into Mexico to establish Salt Lake City?

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.