Jana Riess: LDS Church changes temple clothes to make them easier to ‘put on, care for and afford’

(Screenshot) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posted a video and photos explaining these "robes of the holy priesthood," worn by faithful members inside temples. The church is modifying temple wear.

Last year, I apparently screwed up something about the veil I wear whenever I go to a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I don’t know what I did wrong, but it seems to have been obvious enough to other people that a sister behind me and a temple worker in the hallway both commented on it. The temple worker even fretted aloud that my incorrect veil placement may have actually invalidated the endowment ordinance.

Perhaps my veil troubles will soon be over. On Friday, the church’s governing First Presidency announced that changes are coming to the ceremonial clothing that faithful members wear in temples, and that the new clothing will be available March 31. Here is what the clothing looks like currently, in a screenshot taken from a beautiful video the church created to explain more about temple rites to both believers and outsiders:

(Screenshot) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has posted a video and photos explaining these "robes of the holy priesthood," worn by faithful members inside temples.

The church has not released any renderings of what the new temple clothing will look like, but the First Presidency statement and the FAQ noted several projected alterations:

  • The changes are for the ceremonial robes worn only in the temple, and not for the everyday “garments” that temple-endowed members wear both inside and outside the temple.

  • They are designed to make temple clothing easier to “put on, care for, and afford.”

  • The adjustments are aimed to improve the user's experience and don’t represent changes to “temple symbolism or doctrine.”

  • The robe will be simpler.

  • Men’s caps will have the plastic insert removed, apparently. (I did not know plastic inserts were a thing.)

  • Women’s veils will be simpler (YAY!) and will have the tie removed.

  • Everything will be constructed of a more durable fabric so that the items last "longer and are easier to care for.”

  • Members who want to continue using their current temple clothing after March 31 may do so.

  • There’s a bit of a mixed message about whether members may alter their current temple clothing to bring it up to date with the new styles. The “Improving Our Temple Experience” page says, “Yes. Further information about how can be found at store.ChurchofJesusChrist.org/ceremonialclothing when you log in with your membership account or by visiting Distribution Services and asking a store clerk.” However, the FAQ page clarifies that “the only approved alteration to existing clothing is for men to remove the string from the cap. Other alterations are not approved.”

These changes come almost exactly a year after the church made more far-reaching adjustments to the wording and actions of the temple endowment and other ceremonies, including the removal of a promise that women were to hearken to their husbands (now, women, like men, covenant to harken directly to God). At that time, the church also simplified how the robe and shoes are used during the endowment ceremony.

The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.