The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issues new name guidelines, dropping term Mormon in most uses
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Thursday that church leaders have launched a major effort to use the full name of the church instead of nicknames or abbreviations.
“The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” President Nelson said in a statement. “We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with his will. In recent weeks, various Church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so.”
The church released a style guide with the statement.
“Please avoid,” the style guide states, “using the abbreviation ‘LDS’ or the nickname ‘Mormon’ as substitutes for the name of the Church, as in ‘Mormon Church,’ ‘LDS Church,’ or ‘Church of the Latter-day Saints.'”
It encouraged a new shortened reference for the church, the “Church of Jesus Christ,” and said “the restored Church of Jesus Christ” is also accurate and encouraged.
The news elicited immediate questions on Twitter and elsewhere: What will happen to the name of the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir? Or the church’s own Mormon Channel, Mormon Messages, “Meet the Mormons” movies or even the official website, lds.org?
For the past decade and more, the church has used the nickname “Mormon” in the official names of websites, media channels and international branding campaigns like “I’m a Mormon,” in which church members were encouraged to share who they are and finish their video or written statements by saying their name and stating, “and I’m a Mormon.
The church declined further comment on specifics, pointing to its statement, which added, “See the updated Newsroom style guide, which provides direction on how to properly refer to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the coming months, Church websites and materials will be updated to reflect this direction from President Nelson.”
The new guide hinted the choir’s name might be part of what is expected to be extensive changes that would separate the effort announced Thursday from efforts by past church leaders to create distance from the nickname.
The church’s old style guide for its name, published on what was then Mormon Newsroom, said that “Mormon” was an appropriate adjective for phrases like Mormon trail, Mormon pioneers and Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
On Thursday, the new style guide on Newsroom no longer included the pioneers or the choir as examples of appropriate uses.
President Nelson said in his statement that additional information will be made available in coming months.
Sheri Dew, executive vice president and chief content officer of Deseret Management Corporation, heard President Nelson refer briefly to the name of the church in a sacrament meeting this past Sunday.
“He said we need to restore and use the full name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that we would be hearing more about it,” she said in a KSL NewsRadio interview. “Here we are four days later, and we’re hearing more about it.
“This appears to be a more seismic shift than just a reinforcement of a former policy,” she said. “It seems that the president of the church is saying that, surely, if we expect anyone else to get the name of the church right, we better start by getting the name of the church right ourselves, and one major problem with every nickname we have all used and fallen into is that they cut out the name of Jesus Christ.”
She later added, “We are followers of Jesus Christ, and we need to be willing to declare it. The other problem is that the Savior himself told us what he wanted he church to be called.”
She also noted President Nelson’s language.
“That’s pretty clear language from the president of the church,” she said. “He’s, telling us that in his prophetic role, he feels compelled to address this. And that is a signal to all of us as members to listen up.”
The updated style guide states:
“The official name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The full name was given by revelation from God to Joseph Smith in 1838.”
It goes on to say:
· In the first reference, the full name of the Church is preferred: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
· When a shortened reference is needed, the terms “the Church” or the “Church of Jesus Christ” are encouraged. The “restored Church of Jesus Christ” is also accurate and encouraged.
· While the term “Mormon Church” has long been publicly applied to the Church as a nickname, it is not an authorized title, and the Church discourages its use. Thus, please avoid using the abbreviation “LDS” or the nickname “Mormon” as substitutes for the name of the Church, as in “Mormon Church,” “LDS Church,” or “Church of the Latter-day Saints.”
· When referring to Church members, the terms “members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” or “Latter-day Saints” are preferred. We ask that the term “Mormons” not be used.
· “Mormon” is correctly used in proper names such as the Book of Mormon or when used as an adjective in such historical expressions as “Mormon Trail.”
· The term “Mormonism” is inaccurate and should not be used. When describing the combination of doctrine, culture and lifestyle unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the term “the restored gospel of Jesus Christ” is accurate and preferred.
· When referring to people or organizations that practice polygamy, it should be stated that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not affiliated with polygamous groups.
66comments on this storyThe decision to more closely align with the full name is consistent with past statements by President Nelson, who church members sustained in April as a prophet.
In 1990, at a general conference of the church, he gave a talk titled “Thus Shall My Church Be Called.”
“By divine directive, the title of the church bears the sacred name of Jesus Christ, whose church this is,” he said then. “He so decreed more than once. Nearly two thousand years ago, the Lord said, ‘Ye shall call the church in my name; … And how be it my church save it be called in my name?'”
This story will be updated.