For something that's always supposed to remain hidden, the Mormon Church's special undergarments are suddenly attracting a lot of attention.
Sometimes referred to glibly as "Magic Mormon Underwear," replicas of the special white temple garments are now being sold online through a new website called MormonsSecret.com, founded by a self-professed former Mormon.
The website claims to be unique in its business model:
For the first time in history, online shoppers can purchase these magical temple garments without first joining the Mormon church and giving up 10% of their income in tithes. Our goal is to make “magical” underwear available to the masses for use as costume wear, fetish wear, and all your kinky, dress-up needs.
All the undergarments are assembled in China, but the authentic Mormon symbols, heirloom stitching techniques, and traditional Masonic symbols are hand-sewn on each garment in the United States, according to the website. Each item is priced between $32 and $46.
According to Brigham Young University, these types of white garments, similar in pattern to plain T-shirts and long pajama bottoms, must be worn by members of the church who have received the ordinance of the temple endowment. They must be worn under their clothes (including bras for women) every day as an "outward expression of an inward covenant."
As the Los Angeles Times notes, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a handbook that devotes an entire section to the garments. The handbook states that the garments “provide protection against temptation and evil.”
Mormon's Secret is the brainchild of "Ann Jackson," a woman who goes by an alias because of safety fears, the Los Angeles Times notes. Raised in the Mormon Church and married as a teen, Jackson claims on her site that she is familiar with the fabric-buying operations and construction of special LDS garments. She also says she is no longer married and no longer a Mormon.
Jackson is capitalizing on the recent attention focused on Mormons, due to the Romney campaign as well as the smash Broadway hit, "Book of Mormon." . The latter has inspired a Halloween trend of sorts, with "Mormon missionary" making Time magazine's top 10 topical costume list last year, according to ABC4.
The issue of Mormon undergarments has also become a hot topic after Ann Romney appeared on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" wearing a tight, leather skirt, causing some Mormon bloggers to question whether she was actually wearing her special garments.
Forum LDS.net was one of the sites awash in speculation over the potential first lady's underwear situation, with one member posting, "The first thing I noticed was there was no way she was wearing garments."
The Los Angeles Times reached out to the Mormon church for comments, but spokesman Eric Hawkins would neither deny nor confirm the existence of a special church division devoted to temple garments. He did, however, comment on the website Mormon's Secret enterprise.
“The intent behind a site like this should be obvious to anyone who sees it,” Hawkins said. “There will always be those who want to ridicule and demean something meaningful to another. Hopefully, we might yet reach a point in society where that is not acceptable.”