“Mormon” Is Out: Church Releases Statement on How to Refer to the Organization
Contributed By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News editor
- Use full name of the Church in first references.
- Avoid using the terms “Mormons” and “LDS Church.”
- Refer to members as “Latter-day Saints.”
“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.” —President Russell M. Nelson
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement from President Russell M. Nelson on August 16 regarding the name of the Church:
“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. 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.”
The Church has released an updated style guide, which provides direction on how to properly refer to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the coming months, Church websites and materials will be updated to reflect this direction from President Nelson.
Following is the text from updated style guide:
The official name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The full name was given by revelation from God to Joseph Smith in 1838.
- In the first reference, the full name of the Church is preferred: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- “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.”
- 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.
- 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.
President Nelson has long championed the use of the Church’s divinely given name.
More than 28 years ago, then-Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles delivered a general conference address entitled “Thus Shall My Church Be Called.”
Elder Nelson said to “note carefully the language of the Lord” in Doctrine and Covenants 115:4: “He did not say, ‘Thus shall my church be named.’ He said, ‘Thus shall my church be called.’ Years ago, its members were cautioned by the Brethren who wrote: ‘We feel that some may be misled by the too frequent use of the term “Mormon Church” (Member-Missionary Class—Instructor’s Guide, Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982, p. 2). Before any other name is considered to be a legitimate substitute, the thoughtful person might reverently consider the feelings of the Heavenly Parent who bestowed that name.”
Elder Nelson then examined the key words in the name of the Church—saints, Latter-day, Jesus Christ, and The Church—offering insights into their sacred significance.
Members of Christ’s church are “privileged to participate” in its divine destiny, he concluded. “May we so honor Him who declared, ‘Thus shall my church be called … The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.’”
More recently, then-Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also encouraged Latter-day Saints to make clear the name by which the Lord Himself has chosen for His church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “is the name by which the Lord will call us at the last day. It is the name by which His Church will be distinguished from all others.”
“The name the Savior has given to His Church tells us exactly who we are and what we believe,” he said.
“We believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. He atoned for all who would repent of their sins, and He broke the bands of death and provided the resurrection from the dead. We follow Jesus Christ. And as King Benjamin said to his people, so I reaffirm to all of us today: ‘Ye should remember to retain [His] name written always in your hearts’” (Mosiah 5:12) (“The Importance of a Name,” Oct. 2011 general conference).
One of President Nelson’s prophetic predecessors, President George Albert Smith, spoke in a 1948 October general conference address of the divine significance of the name of the restored Church of Jesus Christ:
“Brethren and sisters, when you go away from here, you may be associating with various denominations of the world, but remember that there is only one Church in all the world that by divine command bears the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
The Church Office Building in Salt Lake City. Photo courtesy of Deseret News Archives.