Did you know that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) prefer not to be called “Mormons”? This article will explore the reasoning behind this preference. While the term “Mormon” has been commonly used to refer to LDS members and their beliefs, there has been a recent shift towards emphasizing the church’s full name and discouraging the use of the nickname. Understanding the perspective behind this choice can help foster greater understanding and respect for the beliefs and practices of the LDS community.
Origins of the term ‘Mormon’
The term ‘Mormon’ originated from the Book of Mormon, a foundational scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The book’s ancient prophet, Mormon, compiled the sacred records of his people, which were translated by Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS Church. Initially, the term ‘Mormon’ was informally used to describe the early believers and followers of Joseph Smith and his teachings. Over time, the term became associated with the LDS Church and its members.
Church’s preference for ‘Latter-day Saints’
In recent years, the LDS Church has expressed a preference for being referred to as ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ or ‘Latter-day Saints’. This preference is based on a desire to emphasize the centrality of Jesus Christ in their faith and to avoid potential misunderstandings or misconceptions that may arise from the term ‘Mormon’.
Emphasis on following Christ
The LDS Church places a strong emphasis on following the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. They believe that He is the head of their church and that salvation comes through faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. By emphasizing their connection to Jesus Christ through their name, the church seeks to reinforce this core doctrinal principle.
Avoiding misconceptions about beliefs
The LDS Church has faced various misconceptions and misunderstandings about its beliefs, particularly related to the term ‘Mormon’. Choosing to be called ‘Latter-day Saints’ helps to clarify that their beliefs and practices are centered on the teachings of Jesus Christ and not solely on the Book of Mormon. It also differentiates them from other groups or individuals who may interpret the Book of Mormon differently.
Avoiding confusion with other denominations
The ‘Latter-day Saints’ name helps to distinguish the LDS Church from other denominations within the broader Christian tradition. By using their full name, they highlight their unique beliefs, practices, and organizational structure. This distinction is especially valuable when engaging in interfaith dialogues or when describing their faith to individuals who may be less familiar with their traditions.
Reinforcing unique doctrine and practices
The LDS Church has a distinct doctrine and a set of practices that differ from those of other Christian denominations. By embracing the name ‘Latter-day Saints’, they reaffirm their commitment to these unique teachings and traditions. This distinctive identity enables them to articulate their beliefs more accurately and helps foster a deeper understanding of their faith among both members and non-members.
Perception of the Term
In certain circles, the term ‘Mormon’ has acquired negative connotations over time. Some individuals associate the term with polygamy or other historical practices that are no longer part of mainstream LDS Church teachings. Additionally, some misconceptions and stereotypes exist surrounding the term, perpetuated by media portrayals and misinformation. The LDS Church’s move towards using the name ‘Latter-day Saints’ aims to distance themselves from these misunderstandings and cultivate a clearer understanding of their faith.
Focus on church’s core principles
The LDS Church wants to shift the focus from the term ‘Mormon’ to their core principles and teachings. By encouraging the use of their preferred name, they aim to redirect conversations towards topics such as faith in Jesus Christ, family values, service, and humanitarian efforts. The hope is that by emphasizing the essence of their faith, the term ‘Latter-day Saints’ will become synonymous with their commitment to Christian values and discipleship.
Evolving Church Marketing
Shift towards identity-based branding
In recent years, the LDS Church has made a concerted effort to shift its branding towards highlighting its identity as ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’. This shift is reflected in the new logo, updated websites, marketing materials, and public messaging. By prominently featuring their name and associating it with the image of Jesus Christ, the church aims to create a stronger connection between their faith and their public image.
Creation of official style guide
To ensure consistency and clarity in communications, the LDS Church has developed an official style guide that provides guidelines for writing and speaking about the church. This guide emphasizes the use of proper terminology and encourages individuals, both within and outside the church, to use their full name or the abbreviation ‘LDS’ when referring to the church, rather than ‘Mormon’.
Promoting accurate terminology
The LDS Church actively promotes the use of accurate terminology when referring to their faith. They encourage members, media outlets, and the general public to use their official name, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’, or its abbreviation, ‘LDS’. By promoting the use of accurate terminology, the church aims to create a more accurate representation of their beliefs and practices, fostering understanding and openness in conversations about their faith.
Educating members about preferred name
The LDS Church recognizes the importance of educating its members about their preferred name and the reasons behind it. Church leaders and materials emphasize the doctrinal significance of the name ‘Latter-day Saints’ and the relevance of using it in all forms of communication. By educating their members, the church hopes to create a unified front in presenting themselves to the world and to maintain consistent messaging across various media platforms.
Increased Global Awareness
Standardizing terminology for international growth
As the LDS Church continues to expand globally, standardizing the use of terminology becomes crucial for effective communication. By promoting the use of their official name, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’, the church aims to create a universal understanding of their faith and practices. Standardized terminology facilitates conversation and fosters unity among diverse cultures and countries where the church is present.
Respecting cultural diversity
The LDS Church recognizes and respects the cultural diversity of its membership worldwide. In their efforts to standardize terminology, they are mindful of cultural sensitivities and strive to strike a balance between their preferred name and local sensitivities or naming conventions. Respecting cultural diversity ensures that the church’s message can be received and understood in various cultural contexts.
Emphasizing the use of proper terminology
Leadership within the LDS Church consistently emphasizes the importance of using their official name, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’, in all communication. Church leaders set an example by using the correct terminology in their speeches, writings, and public appearances. Their consistent messaging highlights the significance of this change and encourages others to adopt and normalize the use of their preferred name.
Encouraging unity and clarity
Church leaders also emphasize the importance of unity and clarity in communication. By using their full name, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’, leaders seek to foster a sense of shared identity among members worldwide. This unified approach aligns with the church’s emphasis on following Jesus Christ and strengthens their collective commitment to living and sharing their faith.
Official Statement on Terminology
Church’s announcement on the use of ‘Mormon’
In 2018, Church President Russell M. Nelson announced that the church would discontinue the use of the term ‘Mormon’ as a nickname or shorthand reference. The announcement clarified the church’s preference for being referred to as ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ or ‘Latter-day Saints’. This official statement marked a significant shift in the church’s communication strategy and emphasized the importance of using their proper name.
Encouraging adherence to correct name
Following the announcement, church leaders and materials consistently uphold the importance of using the correct name. The emphasis on adherence to the proper name demonstrates the church’s commitment to precision, accuracy, and clarity in communicating their beliefs and identity. By encouraging adherence to the correct name, the church seeks to align its public image with its core principles and teachings.
Commitment to the Faith
Embracing the full name of the Church
The commitment of members to their faith is demonstrated through their acceptance and use of the full name of the church, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’. By embracing the full name, members affirm their dedication to the teachings of Jesus Christ and their identification with the church’s unique doctrines and practices. This commitment serves as a visible representation of their devotion to their faith.
Demonstrating devotion to core principles
Using the full name of the LDS Church is not merely a matter of semantics; it is an outward expression of devotion to core principles and beliefs. By consistently using the correct terminology, members demonstrate their reverence for the doctrine and their commitment to following Jesus Christ. This practice strengthens individual testimonies and contributes to a unified sense of community within the LDS Church.
In conclusion, the LDS Church’s preference for being referred to as ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ or ‘Latter-day Saints’ stems from a desire to emphasize their core beliefs, clarify misconceptions, and foster a distinct identity. This shift in terminology reflects an evolving church marketing strategy and a commitment to effective communication. By using the correct terminology, both members and non-members can gain a clearer understanding of the LDS Church’s unique doctrine and practices, promoting unity, clarity, and a stronger connection to their faith in Jesus Christ.