February 19, 2004
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Garments auction irks LDS

By Peggy Fletcher Stack and Bob Mims
The Salt Lake Tribune

    Andrew Moody has been asked plenty of times why he's auctioning LDS temple undergarments. His answer is simple: Nothing is too sacred to sell on eBay.
    A few weeks ago, Moody sold a pair of LDS temple garments for $71. But this week, when he posted another set, the online auction house removed the items after complaints from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The garments returned to the site Wednesday after eBay officials decided the sale was not illegal and thus did not violate company policy.
    Moody, of Dallas, is a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, which does not believe in imbuing objects with special holiness, he wrote Wednesday in an e-mail to The Salt Lake Tribune. "All that is sacred is to be found in Christ, not in earthly things."
    He says he believes the LDS Church is a false religion, but said he is neither anti-LDS nor on any crusade.
    He put the garments up for sale because he needed the money, he said, and to engage Mormons in a theological debate.
    Moody said he received about 15 to 20 offers to buy the garments, but 200 to 250 e-mails from Mormons upset by the auction.
    "Many [but not all] of these e-mails are extremely hateful," he said.
    LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills declined to comment on the sale, but church member Trent Hill of Torrance, Calif., had no such restraint.


    "It's just tasteless," Hill said in a telephone interview.
    Hill offered $20,000 for the garments -- an avowedly bogus bid -- "to prevent other people from bidding on it who might ridicule them," he said.
    Actually, temple garments can be purchased in any LDS Distribution Center, such as the one in the basement of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, for about $6.
    A person can buy the garments without showing a "temple recommend," which is a permit to enter an LDS temple, but the underclothing is meant to be owned and worn exclusively by those who have performed temple ceremonies.
    Moody must have gotten the sacred clothing "by deception," Hill contends. "His whole purpose is to get attention and to make people mad."
    Many other religious items are for sale on eBay -- everything from a Catholic nun's habit to a Sacred Heart Holy water font, Jewish prayer shawls, Muslim hijabs and an 18th-century engraving of a Muslim execution platform. Scores of rosary beads and even a circumcision clamp are on eBay.
    But those are all external items, Hill said. Mormon temple garments are "a private thing, not meant to be seen."
    To Moody, holiness is personal.
    "Just because Hindus view cows as sacred doesn't mean I'm going to stop eating hamburgers and big juicy steaks," he said.
    He wants Mormons to consider why they are so angry.
    "Why do they put so much of their hope in a piece of cloth," he wondered, one "that will wear out and be destroyed?"


© Copyright 2004, The Salt Lake Tribune.
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