The question of whether it’s appropriate for women to wear pants is one you might expect to see while studying the beginnings of the feminist movement in the 19th century, but probably not in a 2019 race for a seat in Colorado’s House of Representatives. And yet, here we are.
Longmont pastor Corey Seulean, who recently announced he’s running to replace term-limited Colorado Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone), tells women in his congregation at Hopewell Baptist Church that it’s immodest to wear pants, and that they should instead wear either skirts or “modest culottes,” a woman who attended his church said on Facebook.
When asked by the Colorado Times Recorder about the pastor’s stance on how women decide to cover their legs, a Seulean spokesperson confirmed that he does in fact believe that pants are immodest and that women shouldn’t wear them.
The comment from Melissa Ford was posted on Seulean’s candidate Facebook page announcing his campaign kickoff event.
“Mr. I am going to tell the women of my congregation how to dress?” wrote Ford on Seulean’s post. “Please pick a better candidate.”
When prompted for more details by another commenter, Ford wrote, “We attended his church at one point. He would get in front of the congregation and basically tell us women should not wear pants. We should wear skirts or ‘modest culottes’. Not sure that is the best candidate to be putting forward.”
Ford could not be reached for comment.
The post with Ford’s comment has since been deleted.
Campaign manager Benjamin Seulean, who’s also Cory Seulean’s son, said that’s because they updated the event announcement after learning that Rep. Saine would no longer be able to attend, not because they didn’t want Ford’s comment on their page.
“I did not delete it because of [Ford’s] comment,” said Seulean. “I didn’t have a problem with what she said.”
Benjamin Seulean told the Colorado Times Recorder that while the church doesn’t enforce a dress code, Pastor Seulean has made it known that he believes that the Bible says it’s immodest for women to wear pants.
“Corey has preached from the Bible what he believes, his interpretation and what the Bible says about a woman dressing modestly, and he believes that in today’s day and age, pants on a woman sometimes can show a woman’s body immodestly,” said Seulean. “That’s why he’s taught it’s proper, he believes, for a woman to wear a dress or modest culottes. He might not have used that exact terminology, but he believes yes, a woman should dress modestly, and part of that goes into women not wearing pants.”
“His wife Pam, I can tell you, does not own a pair of pants,” he added. “She only wears dresses and skirts and sometimes, on occasion, culottes.”
If, like me, you’ve never before encountered the phrase “modest culottes,” you can find examples of them on websites like DressingForHisGlory.com. There’s also ModestApparelUSA.com, which explains that culottes offer “an alternative to pants to provide women more freedom to do activities such as gardening, cleaning, bike riding, etc. and still look like one is wearing a skirt.”
Seulean also explained that the pastor teaches directly from the Bible “as it is written.”
“He just preaches the Bible straight as it is, and the Bible says a woman is to dress modestly,” Seulean said.
When asked to provide references from the Bible to support Seulean’s stance that women shouldn’t wear pants, the campaign provided the following:
1 Timothy 2:9 KJV
 “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;”
Proverbs 7:10 KJV
 “And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.”
Deuteronomy 22:5 KJV
 “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”
Let’s unpack those verses. The first verse takes place in a passage from 1 Timothy that essentially gives instructions for prayer and worship, in addition to laying out distinctions between men and women’s roles in the Church.
Not only are women to “adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety,” as the Bible says in 1 Timothy, but the passage goes on to command that women should, put bluntly, sit down and shut up.
1 Timothy 2:11-15 of the King James Version reads, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
Chapter 7 of Proverbs is seen as a warning against adulterous women. It reads, “And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)”
It goes on to say, “Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.”
And then there’s chapter 22 of Deuteronomy, which contains a list of seemingly random commandments. In addition to saying that men and women shouldn’t blur the line between the sexes with their clothing, it also commands building a parapet around the roof of any new house, never sowing two kinds of seed in a vineyard, and, should you come across a bird’s nest, that it’s ok to take the eggs, but not the mother bird.
It is worthy of note here that this was written during a time when men wore robe-like garments, which, in terms of 2019 attire, most closely resembles a skirt.
Among Seulean’s core values, according to his campaign website, are religious freedom, gun rights, and anti-LGBTQ advocacy.
“God’s Word is very clear that marriage is the holy union between one man and one woman,” the website states. “Our society is aiming at tearing down the traditional family unit and God’s plan for families. Let’s not let wickedness and perversion prevail. God’s ways are always best.”
Seulean also cites anti-abortion advocacy as a core value.
“Abortion is the murder of our children and we need to fight for their right to life,” his website states.
Following the shooting at a Walmart in El Paso earlier this month that killed 22 people, Seulean posted on his campaign Facebook page, “3000 babies are murdered every single day in America. We don’t have a ‘mass shooting’ problem. We have a ‘life isn’t sacred’ problem.”
Responding to an email from the Colorado Times Recorder seeking to know whether the removal of Saine’s name from the list of speakers for Seulean’s campaign kickoff means she’s withdrawing support, Saine wrote that she’s “not endorsing anyone at this time,” and that “two others have approached me about running for House District 63 so it could be a crowded race.”
So far, Seulean faces a challenge from fellow Republican Dan Woog, who sits on the Erie board of trustees and previously lost a race to be the town’s mayor in 2018.
House District 63 encompasses Firestone, Frederick, Dacono, Mead, and parts of Longmont and Erie.