Perhaps the three main things that will come to mind when a nevermormon comes across Mormons are Missionaries, polygamy, and temple garments. Missionaries because that’s how the majority of people will run across Mormons, at least explicitly. They might bump into Mormons everyday, but those white shirts and ties and the name badges are literally walking around saying, “MORMON!”. Polygamy because it’s a unique issue in America [which was founded by Christian churchs who abstained from polygamy, and the fact that we never had [large] entrenched aristocracies who practiced such behavior as overt concubineage] where the norm has been bourgeois, that is monogamous relationship practices. And then their is the issue of temple garments.
Of course nevermos don’t call them temple garments, they call them magic underwear or secret underwear or whatever because they are percieved as underwear, not some sacred garment, but instead something in league with the undergarments of nevermormons. Only weirder. When Mormons are brought up in culture their underwear is brought up to smear them as weird people who wear weird stuff and believe weird things. Comedians [such as Bill Maher] make quite a bit of hay out of the issue of Mormon temple garments. It’s an easy thing to go to when you want to dismiss an entire population as weird. [Of course there is plenty in LDS Culture, but this is an easy talking point].
Previously I said that Mormons were a peculiar people, and this is yet another reason this is thought so by nevermormons. Once again the same issue comes up between nevermormon religious culture and LDS religious culture. In nevermormon Christian religious culture only the most pious and spiritual wear clothing marking them out as members of a religion [such as Catholic nuns and priests, or Protestant preachers who wear the white collar]. Once again in LDS culture the religious clothing isn’t a unique thing, it is mainstream. It is not only peculiar or weird, it is expected. It is the status quo. To not wear these garments is weird. This once again marked Mormons as a peculiar people.
As to the garments themselves, I think this is one of the main reasons that the LDS Church is called a cult by some. It’s not that they believe weird stuff, Christianity is full of weird stuff [see talking snakes, people turning into pillars of salt, etc etc etc etc etc etc…] but its the fact that LDS rules and regulations penetrate into facets of life that most people hold deeply private. In a sense nevermos think, “alright belief what you want, but why are you all wearing the same underwear?” and the ideas of comformity lead to thinking that this is a cult, because of the focus on comformity, even when you can’t see that comformity. Underwear is supposed to be something that is well, under, and to make it a public issue strikes of intrusion and just general peculiar/weird behavior. Heck the fact that people look for “garment lines” or that you can see them easily [if you know what to look for] makes the garment issue a public issue, once again leading to the issue of making private things public, which reinforces the weirdness of it all. As long as these garments are worn by Mormons, the LDS people will be a peculiar people.