Commonly used nicknames for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — such as the “Mormon Church” or “LDS Church” — should now be added to the list of things the church opposes, said church President Russell M. Nelson.
Nelson has raised the issue several times since August, most recently Sunday at the church’s twice-annual worldwide general conference, where he announced that using such shorthand “is a major victory for Satan,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Nelson also said that the word “Mormon” is insulting to Jesus.
“It’s not Mormon’s church, it’s not Moses’s church, it’s Jesus Christ’s. With the precision of a sermon, we just want to correct an error,” said Nelson, 94.
Nelson first took issue with the abbreviations on Aug. 16, when he released a statement and online style guide that provided direction for how to refer to the church. His initial statement said that the church’s “websites and materials will be updated to reflect this direction” in the coming months.
Nelson addressed the matter again during a tour in Canada a few days later.
“We want to be called by the right name,” Nelson said. “The Lord said the name of the church should be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that’s not negotiable.”
On Sunday, Nelson explained that members “discard the savior’s name” by using the shorthand. “We are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us — even his atonement,” he said.
The church has since taken steps toward changing the language: The 100-year-old Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, changed its name to “The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.”
No additional action is planned at this point, according to Doug Anderson, the church’s senior media relations manager. Nelson, he said, has told the church’s members to be patient.
“The church works by revelation, by inspiration. [Nelson] has made three statements now where he’s said that it’s important,” Anderson said.
The nicknames have been the subject of debate throughout the religion’s history; this is far from the first attempt to curb widespread use of the term “Mormon.”
As The Washington Post’s Allyson Chiu reported in August:
Steve Evans, founder of the Mormon blog called “By Common Consent,” told The Washington Post that this is not the first time the church has attempted to push for a return to its official name.
“It’s something that comes and goes, it seems, every few decades and never really seems to gather too much momentum,” said Evans, “and then it kind of fizzles out, or at least that’s the feeling anyway.”
But Patrick Mason, Claremont Graduate University’s head of Mormon studies, said Nelson’s statement differs from past attempts.
“The wording of this statement is stronger than anything we’ve seen in the past,” Mason said. “This came not from his own intuition or his own sense of things, rather from inspiration from heaven. That’s about as strong language as he can use.” . . .
The challenge, Mason said, will be to get both members and nonmembers to adopt new terms that “don’t exactly roll off the tongue” over words that people are already “very comfortable” with.
When speaking to The Post, Evans struggled to avoid using “Mormon,” correcting himself twice to say “members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
“I’m absolutely going to fail at it,” he said, referring to adjusting his vocabulary. “I already have multiple times. I have to pause and think about it before I talk about what I am or what my religion is. It’s not easy.”