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Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wants to stop usage of terms ‘Mormons’ and ‘LDS’

August 22, 2018

In tandem with a statement by church President Russell M. Nelson released Thursday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a new style guide for media to provide direction on how the church prefers to be named in news stories and broadcasts.

“The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Nelson said in the statement. “We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will. In recent weeks, various Church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so. Additional information about this important matter will be made available in the coming months.”

According to church doctrine, its official name was given by revelation from God to Joseph Smith in 1838. This revelation is recorded in church canon as Doctrine and Covenants section 115.

“For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” the fourth verse of the section reads.

The church’s preferred style guidelines include:

n In the first reference, the full name of the church is preferred: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

n When a shortened reference is needed, the terms “the church” or the “Church of Jesus Christ” are encouraged. The “restored Church of Jesus Christ” is also accurate and encouraged.

n While the term “Mormon Church” has long been publicly applied to the church as a nickname, it is not an authorized title, and the church discourages its use. Thus, please avoid using the abbreviation “LDS” or the nickname “Mormon” as substitutes for the name of the church, as in “Mormon Church,” “LDS Church,” or “Church of the Latter-day Saints.”

n When referring to church members, the terms “members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” or “Latter-day Saints” are preferred. We ask that the term “Mormons” not be used.

n “Mormon” is correctly used in proper names such as the Book of Mormon or when used as an adjective in such historical expressions as “Mormon Trail.”

n The term “Mormonism” is inaccurate and should not be used. When describing the combination of doctrine, culture and lifestyle unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the term “the restored gospel of Jesus Christ” is accurate and preferred.

n When referring to people or organizations that practice polygamy, it should be stated that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not affiliated with polygamous groups.

According to the statement, church websites and materials will be updated to reflect this direction its president.

The new style may be an “extremely difficult change” since the terms are engrained among members, journalists, academics and observers, said Patrick Mason, a professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University in California who is the chair of Mormon Studies at the college. He recently published a book titled, “What is Mormonism?”

Mason said he expects church members will do their best to conform but predicted outsiders will continue to use Mormon and Mormonism “both out of habit and ease, since the formal name of the church is so long.”

Mason said Nelson has long insisted on using the full and proper name during his three decades on the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a governing body that sits below the church president and helps make church policy.

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