LDS Church leader: Nicknames for faith are ‘victory for Satan’
SALT LAKE CITY — The president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reiterated Sunday that he wants members, the media and others to use the faith’s full name, saying nicknames are “a major victory for Satan.”
Later Sunday, Nelson announced the church will build 12 new temples.
Addressing the church’s twice-yearly conference in Salt Lake City, Russell M. Nelson said the church’s name “is not negotiable.”
“When the Savior clearly states what the name of his church should be, and even precedes his declaration with, ‘Thus shall my church be called,’ he is serious,” Nelson said. “And if we allow nicknames to be used and adopt or even sponsor those nicknames ourselves, he is offended.”
Nelson, 94, who is considered a prophet, reiterated that his instruction is not a name change, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“It is a correction,” he said. “It is the command of the Lord.”
Nelson’s speech came after the church announced Friday that the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been renamed the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. It’s the first big change since Nelson announced guidelines in August asking people to stop using previously accepted shorthand names.
The faith had embraced and promoted the term Mormon over the past several years, using it in a documentary and TV and billboard ads. A church webpage that was up before Nelson’s announcement had described the term as an “unofficial but inoffensive nickname for members.”
If people use Mormon to describe the church or its members, Nelson on Sunday urged adherents to “be courteous and patient” in their efforts to correct them.
Nelson, who in January took over the top post of the Utah-based faith with 16 million members worldwide after the previous president died, rejected what he called “worldly arguments,” including the benefits of internet search engine optimization with the word “Mormon.”
The faith believes that God revealed the full church name to founder Joseph Smith in 1838. The term “Mormon” comes from the church’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, which followers believe is based on the record-keeping of an ancient prophet named Mormon.
The entry about the church in the Associated Press Stylebook, which many news outlets follow, remains unchanged.
At the end of the Sunday afternoon session of the conference, Nelson announced plans to build 12 new temples. In addition to this being the largest number of temples ever announced on the same day, the news brings the total number of church temples operating, announced or under construction to 201. This comes exactly 18 years to the week since the Church completed its 100th temple.
The new temples will be in the following locations: Mendoza, Argentina; Salvador, Brazil; Yuba City, California; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Praia, Cape Verde; Yigo, Guam; Puebla, Mexico; Auckland, New Zealand; Lagos, Nigeria; Davao, Philippines; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Washington County, Utah
These 12 announced temples bring the total number of operating temples (159) and temples announced or under construction (42) to 201 worldwide. The Concepción Chile Temple (Oct. 28) and the Barranquilla Colombia Temple (Dec. 9) are scheduled for dedication later this year.
The previous largest number of temples announced on a single day was April 1, 1981, when nine temples were announced. With seven temples announced during the April 2018 general conference, a total of 19 temples have been announced this year.
“Building and maintaining temples may not change your life, but spending your time in the temple surely will,” Nelson said. “To those who have long been absent from the temple, I encourage you to prepare and return as soon as possible. Then I invite you to worship in the temple and pray to feel deeply the Savior’s infinite love for you, that each of you may gain your own testimony that He continues to direct this sacred and ageless work.”