Church announces new name guidelines


Matea Mihaljevic

A worship house for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints displays the official name for the religion

Isabella Ashton, Editor-in-Chief

As of August 16th, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints no longer wants its members to be referred to as Mormons. The official statement released by the faith’s leader President Russell M. Nelson also discourages the use of the terms “Mormon Church” or “LDS Church.”

The official style guide further specifies that upon first reference, the religion should be called the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” Terms “the Church,” the “Church of Jesus Christ,” and the “restored church of Jesus Christ” are appropriate for subsequent references.

The terms “Mormon” and “LDS” have long been associated with the Utah-based religion. Members of this faith follow religious writings known as the Book of Mormon, which they believe was compiled by the Prophet Mormon. When the church was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, the moniker “Mormon” quickly became attached to members of the faith.

However, the usage of Mormon, in particular, can generate confusion for those who don’t know the origin of the name.

“It’s not the church of Mormon. Mormon was the man who wrote the Book of Mormon and who kept the records of it, but it’s not Mormon’s church. I think that’s kind of something that might be confusing to people on the outside looking in. But the most honest perception of our church is we are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days. It’s latter days [so] it’s the same religion but [with] different aspects of it [than] it was thousands of years ago. It’s the latter days, and we still follow Jesus Christ and not Mormon […]. That’s kind of a misconception with some people who don’t look into it as much. I think it’s a good idea to go as the person we actually follow,” said senior Kori Tuttle, who is a member of the Church.

Beyond this, using the official name may help the Church separate itself from the different sects of Mormonism.

In an email interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Professor Benjamin Knoll at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky wrote, “Most people know that there are many different branches of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc., but they don’t tend to know that about Mormonism.”

These branches include the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and the Community of Christ. After the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints banned the practice of polygamy, the FLDS sect was founded, and they still practice polygamy. The Community of Christ was founded in 1872 after Joseph Smith’s assassination. Each of these sects follows different leaders and their belief systems vary.

Despite widespread press and social media attention, not everyone thinks this initiative will prove to be successful.

According to CNN, the church attempted to move away from these monikers in 1982, 2001, and 2011. Their efforts were met with little success.

“[President Nelson] views it as something sacred, which I respect. But the initiative won’t succeed — if success means getting everyone to stop using the terms ‘Mormon’ or ‘LDS Church,’” blogger and founder of Common Consent Steve Evans said in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune.

Furthermore, Evans believes that this initiative will do little to alter the strong connotations outsiders may associate with “Mormon” and “LDS.”

Senior Jacob Christensen said, “I don’t think it’ll make a difference because a lot of people that are in the know with the Church already know their views […]. It won’t change my opinion. It won’t change other people’s stereotypes with [the Church] or their thoughts with the stereotype. I don’t think it will make a change.”

In light of this announcement, media outlets must choose whether or not they will adopt the style guide released by the Church. One such outlet is the Associated Press, which updated its AP Stylebook to adopt these guidelines. The Warrior Ledger follows the AP Stylebook guidelines, and will also use this style guide.