Trademark Mormon

Every few years, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announces that “Mormon” is a term that should not describe us.  See 19791990, 2011.  (See BCC coverage of the last attempt.)

Rather, as today’s announcement proclaims, we are members of  the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”, or “the restored gospel of Jesus Christ” for short.  The new style guide also states the “LDS” abbreviation is disfavored.

These attempts to set aside “Mormonism” as a descriptor have never stuck.  I am all in favor of talking, preaching, and prophesying of Christ more frequently.  But “Mormon” is too deeply embedded in our lexicon to write out.  It’s a pithy shorthand for our most distinguishing characteristic — belief in the Book of Mormon as another Testament of Jesus Christ.

As President Hinckley once said in 1990: “I suppose that regardless of our efforts, we may never convert the world to general use of the full and correct name of the Church. Because of the shortness of the word Mormon and the ease with which it is spoken and written, they will continue to call us the Mormons…We may not be able to change the nickname, but we can make it shine with added luster.”

As with the past attempts, I suspect the only people who will delight in today’s change are prescriptive vs. descriptive linguists.  Someone at BYU will earn a Masters by writing a thesis on whether today’s announcement wreaks any measurable real-world effect in word usage.  Google Trends exists for this nerdy purpose!

google trends

Nonetheless, I’m willing to bet right now the answer is “No.”  No, there will no material effect.

Journalists and academics will ignore the style change — the Church’s proffered alternatives eat up too much type space.  Moreover, the alternatives are far too generic; they’re likely to be confused with a wide range of Protestant sects incorporating “Jesus Christ” and “Restoration” into their names and theologies.

Social media users will ignore it — “Mormon” is too easy of a self-referential label.

But even more importantly, the Church itself will ignore it.  Why?  Because the Church has far too much invested in ownership of the “Mormon” name and brand to abandon it.

And when I say “brand,” and “abandon,” I mean that literally.  As of today, here are the  federal registered trademarks owned by the LDS Church, using the word “Mormon.”

(The Church owns more “Mormon” trademarks than these — including a bunch like “Mormon Savings” and “Mormon in Manhattan” that the Church bought up a few years ago in an attempt to prevail in “Mormon” trademark litigation).

In addition, there are several major uses where the Church is clearly using Mormon as a brand signifier for itself, but does not yet have a federal registered trademark:

Today’s announcement says:  “In the coming months, Church websites and materials will be updated to reflect this direction from President Nelson” and eliminate the word “Mormon.”

I believe that … and I don’t.  I believe that the website names and branding logos will change.  But I don’t believe the Church will ever be willing to cede the intellectual property to all the “Mormon” properties that now exist.

The “Mormon Tabernacle Choir” has long been one of our greatest missionary tools — we’re not about to abandon a name that’s been in existence since 1893.   (“The Tabernacle Choir of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ” doesn’t work.)

Nor are we about to abandon our domain name registrations and open the “Mormon” brand up for more hoaxes and brand confusion, like the fake “Mormon-Newsroom” announcement in May that caused so much pain.  I’m still surprised the Church didn’t sue for trademark infringement during the May fallout — I suspect that only the hoaxer taking the domain down within a week is what prevented litigation.

So long as we still trademark the word “Mormon” in connection with “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” we can except our people, the press, and society at large are going to continue to use “Mormon” to describe us.  That’s just the Mormon (TM) truth.


  1. I dunno that the Church won’t try to re-brand just because it’s very unlikely to succeed. Nowhere in President Nelson’s words did he suggest anything about whether he’d relied on consultants, experts, or past experience to make this decision.

  2. Long exaggerated eye roll, because here we go again… (where the church tries, but nothing actually changes)

    I can’t imagine someone who is Catholic or Baptist or Evangelical referring to us as ‘the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.’ It’s kind of rude to insist upon it. But the other two choices ‘The Church’ and ‘The Church of Jesus Christ’ don’t make it clear exactly who is being spoken about.

    What I really wonder about is the goal and motivation of the change.

    And I seriously, seriously hope we don’t end up with the ‘Choir of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.’

  3. Happy Hubby says:

    Yep. “MoTab” has a nice flow, but “TabRCJC” is just fingernails on a chalkboard.

    I find it interesting that the church spends much time and effort on this. I think they feel it emphasizes things like “Jesus Christ” and hope that overcomes those that say, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not Christian!” (Oh wait. Nobody says that, they say, “Mormons are not Christians”). But I think of a saying I was often taught at church is applicable.
    It is something along the lines of, “I can’t hear the words coming from your mouth when your actions are screaming at me.”

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    They didn’t learn a thing from the original roll out of the style guide. Your short form can’t be too long or too generic. And the idea that any news organization is going to use “the restored gospel of Jesus Christ” in lieu of “Mormonism” is preposterous. Not only is it way too long, it’s also not neutral, but on its face a theological claim. There is simply no way that anyone with legitimate PR expertise signed off on this. Which is a problem when we insist that ecclesiastical authority trumps actual expertise in a subject.

  5. Perfectly stated, Kevin. I find this very sad.

  6. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    …to say nothing of the IT department. “No, we’re not switching from Tell President Nelson that when he’s listening to J. Golden Kimball tell poop jokes in Heaven’s waiting room ten years from now, we’ll be living with”

  7. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    In all seriousness, this kinda reeks of not having spent enough time around non-Mormons in recent, uh, decades.

  8. Not a Cougar says:

    President Nelson, change the name of the Church if it’s that big a deal. Yes, you’d have to abrogate Doctrine and Covenant 115, but so what? Joseph Smith received revelation all the time changing how the Church was to operate. Get a vote from the FP and Q12, then put it to a vote the first full weekend in October. Done deal.

  9. This bullet in the newsroom announcement gives plenty of cover for many changes that will not happen like changing the name of the MoTab:

    “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.”

    You can’t blame the Prophet for feeling this impression since many before him have struggled with the issue. Why else would the Nephites be admonished for disputing over the name of the church in 3 Nephi 27? One has to assume we might be called Nephis or Helamans if Jesus had not intervened?

    Still, the name is stuck like glue to us and really will never detach, especially thanks to popular culture like the musical that I saw advertised in Brisbane declaring “The Mormons are coming!”

  10. Agreed (OP). Good summary (Kevin Barney). Especially that the longer names/phrases become truth claims.

    Will failure or refusal to follow the style guide become another “freedom of religion” issue?

  11. Maybe a new splinter group of Mormonism is about to be created?!? Lol

  12. I actually had that thought too, C. Kimball. Will we use the certain failure by “the media” to use our non-neutral, theology-affirming term (“the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ”) instead of “Mormonism” as “evidence” that they are persecuting us? I certainly hope not. But I am afraid that will be the case.

  13. An interesting attempt to change the language by fiat is the current project to eliminate the phrase “British Open” from the sports lexicon. The British Open is the world’s oldest golf tournament still in existence, dating back to 1860. In Britain, apparently, it has always been called “The Open” or “The Open Championship.” In the rest of the world it has been known as the British Open to distinguish it from the large number of other golf tournaments with “Open” in their names. For well over a hundred years, the Brits seemed okay with that. Several years ago, however, the people who run this tournament decided that they wanted everyone in the world to stop saying “British Open.” Henceforth it would just be “The Open.” They enforced this decision contractually. Any organization, anywhere in the world, that wants to televise the event must agree not to say “British Open.” In the United States, for example, you will never hear the phrase “British Open” on NBC or ESPN, because they both have contractual agreements not to say it. My personal impression is that this has actually changed common usage to some extent.

    If “British Open” ever becomes an antiquated phrase, it will only happen over a long period of time, and it will only happen because of persistent economic coercion. Getting rid of “Mormon” is far more complex, and it would take vast resources and ingenuity. In fact, it might be impossible. The cultural significance of “British Open” is a tiny speck of nothing compared to the depth and richness of “Mormon.” Why even try to do this? My mind is open, but what we’ve seen so far doesn’t even begin to hint at an answer.

  14. You are all ignoring the most far-reaching implication: what are we supposed to use as flippant shorthand for the literal-minded among us? TBRGoJC doesn’t have the same zazz as TBM.

  15. Not a Cougar says:

    Loursat, that’s why I always (ALWAYS) reference the British Open as the UK British (Scottish) Golf Open Presented by Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith. Ya know, just in case there’s any confusion. You a golfer?

  16. Rebecca J says:

    Nice to have one more insignificant thing for Mormons to police each other on.

  17. Not a golfer, but generally a sports fan and even more an observer of language.

  18. Not a Cougar says:

    Don’t worry, there’s always time to repent.

  19. Dunno. I’m afraid that the time set aside for golf might have to go toward learning how not to be a Mormon . . .

  20. Not a Cougar says:


  21. Yes, all of what has been written above. Plus this from D&C 107:

    3 Before his day it was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.

    4 But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood.

    So it’s ok to use the Lord’s name frequently when referring to his church but not his priesthood? Huh? Makes no sense, especially when those referring to the priesthood would almost exclusively be adherents doing it almost exclusively in religious settings.

  22. Moss @3:58 pm (and Rebecca J.?) —
    I’m afraid we’re in for another way to differentiate the “real” members from the rest — language policing.
    To put it another way, maybe TBM becomes RTUM (refuse to use “Mormon”). Or maybe TBM becomes Saint™

  23. Christian, that sounds like a problem only non-RTUMs would worry about. Perhaps you should consider repenting.

  24. Those who don’t remember the past, are surely doomed to repeat it.

    The historical record shows that the Church’s name has been significantly altered. In 1830, it was first named, “Church of Christ,” in 1834, the name changed to “The Church of the Latter Day Saints,” and in 1838, the name changed again, to “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  25. What we peasants call MoTab is generally referred to as the Tab Choir at hq. I could almost see them dropping the “Mormon” from the name (even though it would be a terrible idea)

  26. I’m old enough to remember when the Salt Lake-based Mormon church
    insisted that the press only use the word “Mormon” to refer to us, not the FLDS or any other branch of Mormonism.

  27. But to be slightly more serious: growing up, I did call it the “LDS church,” and people knew what I was talking about. But I lived in the San Diego area; there were ~150 Mormons in my high school, and everybody knew who and what we were.

    East of the Mississippi? Not so much. This is one of those (many) changes that feels parochial, aimed specifically at a Utah and/or Mountain West audience, without any awareness of how the church is (and isn’t) perceived other places.

  28. Cath, How would we then distinguish between the MoTab and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir? Check ’em out on youtube.

    Rebecca, The policing didn’t work on the no-such-thing-as-unconditional-love campaign, if such policing was even attempted. The “unconditional love” term is still widely used among Mormons, though not in church publications (except an anonymous letter to editor). In an October 2016 conference talk Elder Christofferson backed off from the 2003 Elder Nelson prohibition, acknowledging that there is a sense in which “unconditional love” is correct, though not preferred because it can be misleading. This new prescriptive language campaign isn’t going to work any better outside church-owned and edited publications. I just hope there aren’t too many casualties of Mormon-police brutality before this campaign is abandoned like its earlier iterations.

    I’m even older than Sam. I can remember singing Evan Stephens’ song “I am a Mormon Boy.” Somehow “I am a member-of-the-restored-church boy” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Oh, well, I didn’t really like that song much anyway. Has it been sung since the 1989 April conference video of President Benson singing it? I don’t think I’ll like being a formerly “Mormon” boy any better.

  29. Never fear JR, I have a feeling the Primary children will all be singing Janice Kapp Perry’s “I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” in this year’s Primary program and probably as a choir for October General Conference. Indoctrinate them while they are young…

  30. With all of the really serious issues facing the “restored Church of Jesus Christ,” this strikes me as re-arranging the deck chairs on the Good Ship Zion.

    I was equally surprised a few years ago at a Regional Stake Conference where one of the Apostles talked about concerns among the Brethren, and the example he gave was members continuing to have missionary open houses after a Sacrament Meeting farewell.

    I understand the concept of great things out of small things, and I understand that this is the Church of Christ, but I don’t see how a name change will increase activity and conversion rates.

  31. It is probably a way to distance TCJCLDS from all the other churches that identify as Mormons. Sunstone’s inclusiveness and outreach to all Mormons might be part of it. Sunstone asks, How do you Mormon? It seems like a way to say we are not them and don’t want to be associated with them. Or is it the new billboards for Mormon Stories on I-15 On the surface it seems reactionary. The bottom line is the name is long and clumsy and there will always be a short from needed. Just like asking The Priesthood not to be a label for the men of the ward. It’s been said over and over and it still continues.

  32. Roy Sandstrum says:

    All these comments have been fun to read. Some even made me laugh out loud. And aren’t we the Mormon Helping Hands? It is all over the place. I say if they change the name of the Tabernacle Choir they mean business. “The new guide hinted the choir’s name might be part of what is expected to be extensive changes that would separate the effort announced Thursday from efforts by past church leaders to create distance from the nickname.” President Nelson also stated,”The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church.” I am going out on a limb compared to the other comments and say I think drastic changes will be made. It is a “little, simple thing” but as we know great things can be accomplished if we will support our brethren in this tiny request of the saints. If we as members will support the effort (this time) then maybe the name of our church will reflect what we believe. President Nelson continues, “We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with his (the Lord’s) will.” I have seen enough of President Nelson to recognize he has tenacity. October Conference should be interesting….again!

  33. I am NSTMTFTGLDS(Mormon), voice verified (sigh). Please help.

  34. Well, Leo – in our defense it *is* a little funny. And believing Pres. Nelson is a prophet doesn’t put him above a little humor and it doesn’t mean he is always right. I don’t think any of the comments here are mean-spirited, just expressing a little lighthearted fun and befuddlement at watching this particular train go by yet again.

  35. Taking this seriously:

    It’s not a “little, simple thing.” The words we choose matter a lot. I have my personal names, and I have a few other names that describe who I am. These names define my own conception of myself as much as they define me for other people. One of these names is “Mormon.” A name is not something I can simply shuck off. It’s part of me.

    I’m open to new ideas from President Nelson. But so far, this is not even really an idea. It’s just an assertion: “Mormon” is not “accurate.” My first response is that “Mormon” absolutely does accurately describe a lot about who I am. I will be deeply suspicious of an attempt to nullify that–which is what it will amount to if we are simply told to stop saying that word. President Nelson needs to explain what he means, and he needs to share a vision of why and how this would expand us rather than stifle us. Yet it’s being rolled out as a branding change. If President Nelson wants me to take this seriously in my own life, then he has to treat it on a much deeper and more personal level than a change to style manuals and choir names and corporate image. I’ll be listening with an open heart.

  36. another anon says:

    Imagine being a sophomore during your first week of high school in, say, Massachusetts. You nervously sit down at a lunch table with a group of kids that you’re trying to fit in with.

    “Hey, I heard you’re a Mormon.”
    “Well, no, actually. I’m a member of the Church.”
    “Oh–I’d heard you were a Mormon. That rumor must be wrong. So which church do you go to?”
    “Uh…I go to the Church. But my church is also called the Restored Church of Jesus Christ.”
    “I’ve never heard of that one. Is that a new church?”
    “Well, no, not really. It’s been around since the 1830s. It was started by Joseph Smith.”
    “I thought he started the Mormon church?”
    “He did. That’s my church. But that’s not its name.”
    “I’m confused–so you are a Mormon? Or aren’t you?
    “Well, Christ wants us to emphasize his …oh, never mind. Yeah, I’m a Mormon.”

    And off we go.

    I get the theology behind this. But it is really nuanced, and it is really complicated, and it requires some really unwieldy decisions about how to refer to us moving forward. For someone living in Utah or Idaho? Doable. For a socially adept adult in a some other tolerant place who can navigate this well? Doable.

    But this is so problematic for everyone else. Can you imagine being a teenager who believes that Jesus Christ literally wants you to have some version of the above conversation every time someone new in your social orbit refers to you as “a Mormon”? Or someone living in the American South, or Italy, or Greece, or some other really religious Christian place where the preferred usages are going to actively offend people?


  37. When sitting on the DC Beltway listening to traffic reports, a common one is “traffic backed up to Mormon temple” … with the starting point where they don’t even take the time to say “THE Mormon temple” this name change is facing a real uphill battle with all sorts of media!

    Will let you know if I ever hear “traffic backed up to Church temple” since I don’t expect “the” part of “The Church” to ever hit a traffic report!

  38. I keep posting this – Joseph Smith encouraged and embraced the name “Mormon”. Instructing the Saints that the world meant more good. So someone has to go – Joseph, maybe, since he started the blasted thing.

    For reference “Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith” pg. 300.

  39. jaxjensen says:

    “Are you a Mormon?”
    “Well, I used to be, back before I wasn’t, prior to when I was, but then we had a big ‘I’m a Mormon’ PR push and I was again, then for awhile I wasn’t sure, but now I’m not anymore. So, like, I have an I’m A Mormon page, but “Mormon” is now offensive to me and my Savior, so… I don’t know. Ask me tomorrow!”

  40. anon anon says:

    Hmmm, how long until Mormon Women Stand change their name to The Church Ladies Stand?

  41. I grew up in Mormonville (Idaho) and then moved to the UK for graduate school. It was a total shock to tell people I was a Mormon and have blank stares. Then I tried “LDS” and even “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”… still nothing. It was thrilling and overwhelming at the same time. I’m sure they know more about Mormons since Romney ran for president… but all I can think is how ridiculous this is. You say “I belong to the Church” anywhere in the world and… what church? Church of Scotland? England? The Church of the Holy Ghost Toolbox?

  42. bbytheway says:

    “Mormonism is the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ; of which I myself am not ashamed.”

    -Joseph Smith

  43. So does this mean that we are all exMormons or anti-Mormons now?

  44. Does anyone Remember when Gordon Hinkley spoke in general conference and talked about the word ‘Mormon?’ He seemed to capitulate regarding its use and embraced it saying let Mormon stand for More Good. In an era of identity politics, being ‘Mormon’ is a cultural identity. Mormon has nearly become its own ethnicity. Uses of and references to Mormon, Mormons and Mormonism isn’t going anywhere.

  45. Walter Eddy says:

    Christ LeaDS

  46. Truckers Atlas says:

    God’s plan for gay people? Nah. God worried about climate change? No comment. God wants the Visiting Teaching program renamed and bristles at the use of the word Mormon. Modern revelation is dead, man.

  47. Bro. Jones says:

    Trucker Atlas: whew, I hear you. As a still-faithful member, I absolutely sustain President Nelson in his position. Doesn’t mean I’m not rather disappointed at the moment.

  48. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    I usually cringe when people refer to me as a Mormon. Not because I’m ashamed of my beliefs (which I’m happy to discuss), but because I try to avoid being associated with the types of people they may have in mind when they think of Mormons. Maybe now, if the bulk of members drop the Mormon label, I can proudly embrace it, as something distinct from those members who insist on NOT being called Mormons. That might work?

  49. I can see how this happened.

    God (hesitant): So, I’m bothered by the name of the Church. Or how it’s used. It doesn’t really reflect.
    President Nelson: Yes. I get it. You’re right. I’ve felt that way too.
    God: So —
    President Nelson: No, I’ve got it. [Gets up and begins to leave.]
    God: Wait, I mean —
    President Nelson: No worries. Count it as done. [leaves.]
    God [sighs]: I meant ‘Corporation.’ It’s the Corporation part.

    Seriously, this shouldn’t be a surprise. It is, but it shouldn’t be. It’s easy to trace the trajectory, given what we’ve seen already.

    I know, I know. Cue the lightning.

  50. @Loursat and @Leo

    Every action (or revelation) comes with an opportunity cost. Focusing time and money on a rebranding campaign necessarily implies that that time and money cannot be spent on other issues, many of which are almost certainly more important.

    Do you really think that a (likely futile) campaign to change the way we refer to the church and its members is the most important thing the church can be doing with its time and money right now? If not, there is space for the kind of discussion that is happening here. If you DO think that this is the most important issue, then here is where we part company.

  51. @Loursat – I should have made it clear, I agree completely with you. A lot of work needs to be done to make the case that this is a) a good idea, b) important.

  52. Left Field says:

    To be fair, “the Church” is intended to be used in a second reference. In an article about the Catholic Church, references to “the Church” are clear if the specific church is referenced at the beginning. But if I were the leaders of the “Bickertonite” Church, I would probably be contemplating legal action regarding the name “Church of Jesus Christ.”

  53. Creative and fun discussion. I was taught and “Wiki” seems to back it up that the name Mormon came from our enemies. “The term “Mormon” was initially a derogatory term applied to Latter Day Saints in the 1830s, but soon was embraced by the faith.”
    Like the days of Moses sometimes changes are not made until the older generation dies out and the new generation is taught and accepts a better way. Maybe the only way for the “the Church” to succeed is for us to die out while emphasizing the true name to the little folks. That’s my solution.

  54. Evangelina Voz says:

    Mormon-police brutality…seriously Rebecca and JR. The story of my life. And over inconsequential things….oh, my, it is constant. Well, well put.

  55. This is a fun discussion and I believe it’s definitely got a uphill if not impossible battle in the U.S. I wonder if this isn’t more directed at the international audience? Any genuine thoughts on that?

  56. Evangelina Voz says:

    Love it Brian!

  57. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    As revelation typically comes in the form of answers to questions, I’m sort of disappointed that our leaders aren’t asking about more important things.

  58. Maybe in ten years I will bump into some missionaries and say “I used to be a high priest in the mormon church. I even had 100 percent home teaching!” They wont know what the hell I’m talking about.

  59. BigSky: “Does anyone Remember when Gordon Hinkley spoke in general conference and talked about the word ‘Mormon?’ He seemed to capitulate regarding its use and embraced it saying let Mormon stand for More Good.”

    Yep, I definitely remember.

    It notably followed President Nelson’s April Conference talk by exactly 6 months. It’s a very measured, very polite disagreement, but the timing of it didn’t allow me to see it in any other way than as a subtle correction and display of non unanimity which made an impression on my young mind. One that I’d say overall was actually a positive contribution to my faith in the church as it allowed for some, well, subtlety and imperfection, rather than assuming the leadership was constantly in a state of divine enlightened concordance.

  60. Tea. Underwear. Number of earrings. Name changes.

    “God” sure has some strange preoccupations.

  61. Leonard Reil says:

    Earlier question: “I wonder if this isn’t more directed at the international audience? Any genuine thoughts on that?”

    Perhaps, but I imagine it would have even less impact internationally, where Mormon is likely the only term they’ve heard for the church (also the same for pretty much everyone who is not Mormon…).

    I lived in Taiwan for four years, and I was surprised at the high number of people who knew about Mormonism. But that was exactly what they knew about – “Momen” (recently rebranded as “Moermen”, though I suspect no one who is not Mormon knows of the change). No one I met was familiar with “Yesu Jidu Hoqi Shengtu Jiaohui”, and it’s going to be hard going.

    Beyond that, I’ve literally used the whole name of the church at least once in all six countries I’ve lived in (US, Canada, France, England, Taiwan, India), and Latter-day Saint in most of them (trying to remember why I did, as I’m very fond of the term ‘Mormon’). But every single time I’ve had to follow up with saying ‘Mormon’ before they acknowledged anything resembling understanding.

    Regardless of what we use among ourselves, others will continue to use “Mormon” and “Mormonism”, and more rarely “LDS”. If we want them to understand us, and/or associate us with the faith, we’re going to have to use it. Because they’ll keep thinking that Mormons and Mormonism exisit, and they’ll just think its something other than the person they know.

    So instead of the Mormon they work with, they’ll only know Mormons as those missionaries in white shirts. And I can only imagine the fun missionaries are going to have…

  62. To anon anon: On facebook they already have: “Latter-day Saint Women Stand”

  63. JR, the choir will just British Open it and insist on being called THE Tabernacle Choir. (Or more seriously, if they really do change it, maybe the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.)

  64. “What I really wonder about is the goal and motivation of the change.”

    Is it possible that God reminded President Nelson that he gave us a name and he’d like us to use it? That the worlds’ attempts and our own attempts to define ourselves using the M-word unintentionally (or rather in many cases, very much intentionally) divorces ourselves from the reality of being Christ’s restored church?

    Would God gingerly tiptoe around the subject and say things like, “the church that claims itself to be the restored gospel of Jesus Christ” so as not to hurt feelings and sound theologically neutral?

    Or would he simply say, I am that I am — and you need to line up and accept it or stand on the otherside of the line and reject it.

    PR consultants not necessary. The line has been drawn. It’s relatively inconsequential in some aspects, but has a lot of weight on it in others. Here’s your chance.

    I’d love nothing more than to see the church abandon all those properties. Websites that don’t simply redirect, but have a message explaining why has moved to , new youtube channels, etc.

    We give up something small, but the change in lexicon over a generation or two would be worth it. Please don’t call me the M-word any more. God asked you not to.

  65. Excellent analysis, and, might I add, a discussion that my Linguistics major wife and my English major self didn’t need to have because I already know how effective prescriptivism is in today’s social media!

    I appreciate the introspection invited by Pres. Nelson over the meaning of the words that we use to describe ourselves. I have long found them worth pondering about. I’m all for making what changes are reasonable. I have no illusions about what the world will do.

  66. Left Field says:

    I haven’t researched the history of it, but “Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle Choir” and “Salt Lake Tabernacle Choir” have been used at various times over past decades, particularly in some formal contexts, such as sustaining a director.

    The building after all, is officially the Salt Lake Tabernacle, not the Mormon Tabernacle. The name of the Salt Lake Tabernacle is intended to distinguish it from other Mormon Tabernacles that have different cities in their name.

  67. I know from previous past attempts to not to refer to a group of Latter Day Saints as “Mormons”, but it’s hard. “We Mormon’s” just rolls of off the tongue way better than “We Latter Day Saints”. I guess we could go hard and try to rebrand as “Saints”, but that might run into issues with certain sport teams.
    As for Mormon Helping Hands I do think rebranding to Latter Day Helping Hands is just as good.
    I get why Joseph Smith tried to “take back” the word Mormon from being derogatory to being something that means good. It certainly shouldn’t associated with bad, but we also have some scriptures making it pretty clear that the name of the organization is important.
    I’ll try to double down on trying to not to refer to a group of members of the church as Mormons; maybe it’ll stick this time.

  68. “Is it possible that God reminded President Nelson that he gave us a name and he’d like us to use it?”

    Well, possibly. But it seems highly unlikely to me that with all the problems in the world, this is His top priority. Seems much more likely the obsession with our and other people getting out name right is a branding/ego choice (especially with the emphasis on the media’s proper usage). I mean, is there anywhere in the gospels or 3rd Nephi where Jesus was worried that people call his disciples by the proper name he’d given them?

  69. Is there anywhere in written, canonized revelation where Jesus instructs what his church is to be called?

    Yes. There is. If you don’t accept it and think Joseph Smith was making it up in the Doctrine and Covenants, why would you not think he was just making it up in the Book of Mormon, it that John or some other apostle was just winging it in the New Testament if they were to give it a name?

    Why would Jesus’ speaking to the Nephites be more authoritative and relevant than Jesus speaking to the members of the church during the early Restoration?

  70. jaxjensen says:

    Yes, there the name of the church is prescribed by God. And that is the name it is given. We use that name even before this statement from Pres Nelson. Also prescribed by God though is the reverential use of His son’s name (see Melchizedek priesthood explanation; not using name in vain, etc). Pres. Hinckley always closed his talks with “in the sacred name of Jesus Christ” because the name is sacred. And as with all sacred things, trying to limit it’s exposure to non-sacred events/people/uses/etc has always seemed a good and worthy endeavor. Trying to make sure that that name is now used more often, in non-reverential settings, by people with no respect for Him, seems profane. I take his name upon myself gladly, but don’t need it used in every reference to the church… I appreciate greatly the fact that there is another name (taken from another great man whom I respect) by which we can be identified; without the name of my savior repeatedly passing the lips of those who would otherwise curse/deride/mock the man whose name they are using.

  71. RockiesGma says:

    (I’m wondering if some of the issues many are having with the Book of Mormon historicity and DNA findings are inspiring this.)

    Mormon is me. I am a Mormon. They are my beloved people. I’ve had countless conversations about being Mormon that always led to telling people about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. “Mormon” was my simple, but safe and friendly lead-in to talk about my Sweet Jesus.

    I’m very sad…

  72. Your Google NGram search is probably suffering from you not including the plural latter day saints. The singular is not used much.

  73. “And how be it My church save it be called in My name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in My name then it is My church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.”

    Bottom line: Mormon is the name of a man the same as Luther(an) is. This is a move I applaud.

  74. jaxjensen says:

    “Mormon is the name of a man the same as Luther(an) is” So is Melchizedek, which we also use in place of Christ’s name, to avoid using His name too often. The church DOES bear his name, as it ought, but it is nice to have another moniker we can go by so as to not use his name too often/casually/etc.

  75. Original author here…I’ve been reflecting on this more, since my hot take, and had some extra thoughts:

    I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
    I believe and sustain the Prophet in his revelation to more fully emphasize Christ.

    As a youth, my biggest difficulties in standing up for my faith stemmed from my peers espousing frequent variations on “Mormons aren’t Christian” and “Your Jesus isn’t My Jesus.”
    The message stuck — at some level I saw “Mormon” as something other, apart. I emphasized my Mormonness over my Christianity, quick to prove our truthful superiority instead of seeking to unite us around Christ.

    I remember once inviting a friend to a Church activity, and introducing them as “my Christian friend.” Afterwards, I winced when he remarked that introducing him as “Christian” to a group of Mormons effectively signaled to everyone that he was something “other.” If Christ was a core component of “Mormon” identity, that shouldn’t have happened.

    Indeed, as an adult, my biggest complaints about the Church have come from a place of feeling that Christ is not emphasized enough.

    Today, I work for a Muslim organization filled with Muslims representing a wide variety of religious, ethnic, and national sub-cultures, which they discuss with great enthusiasm. Meanwhile, they don’t know, or care, about the wide variety of Christian sects. They might broadly understand Catholic vs. Protestant at the same level we understand Sunni vs. Shia. Calling myself a “Mormon” first often flies over Muslims’ heads, so instead I often find myself introducing myself as “the Christian lawyer at CAIR.”

    My “Mormonism” is subservient in that context, because my Christianity predominates. That doesn’t mean I’m not Mormon. I can and will proudly identify myself as both. I’m a Mormon and a Christian.

    When I read President Nelson’s words, I felt the spirit confirm to me that Christianity means bearing the name of Christ. I believe that. But I also believe in an identity as Mormon. I accept that label, and I support the world’s use of it, especially as a pithy signal of “Mormon” as something extra and unique. It’s like how I’m an American and more specifically, a Hoosier.

    That’s why the Style Guide’s firm change away from “Mormon” saddens and perplexes me. It feels like a forced stripping away of an identity, rather than a renewed emphasis on Christ. We are both Mormon and Christian. We can flip that order — we can be both Christian and Mormon — but it feels like a tragedy to eliminate the word “Mormon” entirely, which captures so much about who we are as a people.

  76. I love how people try and minimize what our prophet has just announced. This is a big deal, a prophet has never made such a big deal about not using LDS or Mormon terms to describe us. Especially since Nelson hasn’t made a lot of public announcements. Plus look at the outcry from the public….we (LDS) already look weird, this just adds another big layer. Everybody knows this won’t stick.

  77. This is starting to remind me of President Heber J Grant and his determination concerning the Word of Wisdom. The gate is open and President Nelson is on his way. Speaking to a group of 4,000 saints in Canada his message was concerning the name of the church. Elder Anderson is the companion to President Nelson…..“The president has spoken, the Lord has spoken to the president,” he said, “and this is going to be an extended, multi-year effort — but this will not be something that will be attempted and then pulled back from.”

  78. If what Mary reports is true, I’m excited beyond measure. Hearing discourses on the name of the church is what will excite me at such meetings. I’m sure many of the younger generation will agree. This is what will pull people back in. Or not. I will get up and leave if I’m in a meeting like that. I can do ‘more good’ in the hallway connecting to others than listening to this for the next couple of years . . .

  79. How about an attack on the official name? Not just on its length.

    The title- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is contradictory.

    The genuine gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of repentance; the first step being recognition of transgression, omission, weakness or a need to improve. A Saint has no need for such things since classically they were already dead. Or near perfect.

    We are not Saints. As a church, as a people, as a culture, as a set of doctrine. We are a church of sinners as pointed out before. But even worse, we are at best, watered down Christians and at worst, ghost Christians who rarely mention Christ.

    The name of the church is less important than what goes on in the church building and in the lives of the members. We could maybe focus more energy on that, not claim it by hollow pronouncement.

    As for the term The ….., we are not THE only disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, definitely not the best and usually not even in the upper half. “The Church….” is arrogant, judgmental, exclusionary and simply wrong. But we sure do want to run our mouths about it. Then go weeks and forget entirely about it.

    I have peered into my Tibetan rock salt seer stones (given to me by my bishop) and I see the proper name of the church as it currently stands as:

    A Church sometimes of Jesus Christ of Blabber-day Ain’ts.

    As for those who are advocating the old short-cut canard of just follow the prophet, he always knows best: Remember that J.Golden KImball taught that if you follow the prophets to hell, you will go to hell. I suppose he would know.

  80. Michael – you have my vote. A name is an empty promise. We were not consistently “More Good” as Joseph Smith espoused our nickname to mean. Are we suddenly “More Christian” – Not thinking so.

  81. Michael and cat,
    Search for the word saints in the scriptures and get back to me.

  82. Ce:

    I searched for the word Saint in the scriptures in There was no clear definition given. Admittedly being born many years closer to when J. Golden Kimball was cussing people out in tabernacles than the availability of the internet, I might not know how to search properly. It seemed more that the usage of the word defined it and it seems to imply people who are doing what they should and that includes centering our lives on following Christ.Too many Mormons are caught up in following the institutional demands of the church with little attention given to Christ, for better or worse.

    The word Saint has centuries of use by billions of people across the ages.We have co-oped other words and perhaps we have done the same with this one.The general definition is one who is holy (latin santus or something like that), or one who is exceptionally Christ-like and dead. Most of western European history uses Saint to mean someone who far exceeded most others in their emulation of Christ, who has died and gone to heaven.

    Definitions don’t change my point. Don’t change the topic from -we are not Saints, to the topic of -what is the definition of a Saint. Then use weasel words to justify our collective wickedness.The scriptures clearly warn us of our wicked ways, go search all the various ways described in scripture to do anything but follow Christ and get back to me about how we are doing individually and collectively on that.

    I don’t think you can define Saint to mean someone who claims to be better than most of everyone else, claims exclusivity when in fact they are not that good. That is the rub, we are not any better and in some ways we are worse. And changing our name doesn’t fix it. We seem to not understand the idea that we are sinners and need to repent. We think repentance refers mostly to frisky teenagers in the back seats of cars or on couches. Or people who make long lists of externalities like the Pharisees and then feel guilty when they can’t do it or guilt others who don’t follow items on their list.

    I can’t read emotion into your remark, but it seems filled with arrogance and self-righteousness to me. Maybe I am reading you wrong. A Saint wouldn’t say something like that. Your un-saintly suggestion seems to prove my point . If I am wrong about the tone of your remark, then I repent of it and ask for forgiveness.

    I am a Mormon boy, but I ain’t no Saint. At least not yet. Got a long ways to go on that. I would like to issue a challenge to all the brave rabble rousters amongst us of the male genome – to stand up in testimony meeting next month and sing that song. If you don’t know it here is a rendition:

    For those of the female genome, be creative and sing: I wish I was a Mormon boy and then could hold the Priesthood and be treated like an adult and not be a junior companion for life. Maybe not.

  83. This is a good article for all to read. I couldn’t help but wonder what website Al Carraway was referring to. Maybe this one, maybe several.

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