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Title: Stop Calling Us "Mormons"
Source: NY Times
URL Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/18/ ... on-latter-day-saints-name.html
Published: Aug 18, 2018
Author: Julia Jacobs
Post Date: 2018-08-18 10:59:23 by Willie Green
Keywords: None
Views: 479
Comments: 2

The word “Mormon” is out, says the president of the Utah-based church. But the proper term for what to call the faith and its followers is a mouthful.

In an announcement on Thursday, President Russell M. Nelson insisted that Mormons and non-Mormons alike stick to the term “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Mr. Nelson, 93, said that the policy change came to him in a revelation from God and that members of the church must work to adjust their vernacular. “The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church,” he said in a statement.

The church’s updated style guide specifies that “Mormon Church,” “Mormons” and “Mormonism” are no longer acceptable. And no, you should not use the abbreviation “L.D.S.” either.

The only exceptions listed are for the Book of Mormon, the church’s sacred text, and historical names like the Mormon Trail, a government-recognized path that members of the church took from Illinois to Utah in the mid-19th century.

The abrupt shift was left largely unexplained by the church, whose spokesman declined to elaborate on the rationale behind the new policy, but church leaders have promoted the idea for decades. In 1990, Mr. Nelson pushed for the use of the church’s formal name as it was communicated by the prophet Joseph Smith in 1838, according to religious doctrine.

“Sometimes a nickname is used instead of the real name,” Mr. Nelson, then a lower-level leader, said in a speech at a church conference. “But a nickname may offend either the one named or the parents who gave the name.”

Some church members are well aware that the directive is unlikely to be followed by outsiders like academics and journalists. (For now at least, The Times’s style guide continues to allow “Mormon.”)

“I don’t think it’s going to stop our friends outside of the church from calling us nicknames,” said Richard E. Bennett, a professor of church history at Brigham Young University. “But certainly among members of the church, we’ll be making a greater effort to follow the directions.”

The policy change presents a snag for Dr. Bennett’s own academic career: His biography lists him as an expert in 19th-century Mormon history. On Friday morning, Dr. Bennett found himself going through drafts of his writing to update its language.

The church recognizes that people will need more concise terminology, and suggests that they use the “restored Church of Jesus Christ,” among other terms.

Matthew Bowman, the author of a book called “The Mormon People,” said this suggests that the policy might be an effort to emphasize the church’s distinctive take on Christianity. Dr. Bowman said the term “restored” refers to the idea that the original Christian religion is obsolete, and Mormons alone are practicing true Christianity.

The term Mormon was first used as a derogatory term in the 19th century by people from outside the faith, Dr. Bowman said. But members of the church soon began to embrace the name, and it was in wide use by the 20th century.

Over a decade ago, before the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, church leadership made a similar push for people to use its full name: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But the effort was a bust.

Rocky Anderson, the mayor of Salt Lake City at the time, found the cumbersome language impossible to maintain. “It was so awkward,” said Mr. Anderson, who grew up in the church but no longer considers himself a member. “It seemed almost a parody of sorts to comply.”

The new policy may present a challenge for prominent church members who discuss their faith in the wider public sphere, where the new directive is unlikely to be followed.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, for example, will have to consider adding several words to its name. And Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon, may have a choice to make as he campaigns to represent Utah in the Senate. (A spokeswoman for Mr. Romney declined to comment.)

Doug Andersen, a spokesman for the church, said church leaders planned to address concerns about issues of practicality, but there was “no timetable” for doing so. He declined to discuss the decision in more detail.

Dr. Bowman, the historian of Mormonism, rejected the idea that the church was distancing itself from the word because of the popular musical “The Book of Mormon,” which satirized the faith.

After the show was first staged in 2011, church leaders doubled down on the use of the term, continuing to publish a series of advertisements called “I’m a Mormon,” which aimed to counteract stereotypes about the faith by telling personal stories.

Historians have another rationale for the shift. In making this policy change, the church may wish to associate itself with the wider Christian world by referring to Jesus Christ in its name, said Dr. Bennett, the professor at Brigham Young University.

“There are many who don’t think the church is Christian, that it might be some sort of cult or something,” Dr. Bennett said. “It is putting front and center our earnest belief in Christ and his mission.”

“That is central to the emphasis on showing the Christianity in Mormonism,” he said, before checking his language. “If I can say that.”


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#2. To: Willie Green (#0)

I use "Momos". Or "good-hearted lunatics".
Whichever they prefer.

Hank Rearden  posted on  2018-08-18   16:09:51 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  


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