Somehow the weekend has flown by. I have 1.5 hours until Sunday ends and I still haven’t put my Sunday post up yet. It’s late, but I’m not going to give up on my NaBloPoMo goals, and I came up with a great post topic last week during church.
The terms mormon, mormonism, and mormon church have been used a lot lately. A quick google news search turned up 10,950 articles that use the word “mormon”, most of them very recent due to the controversy surrounding Proposition 8, the attacks against the church and the temples, and the recent controversy which has resurfaced surrounding baptisms for the dead for Holocaust survivors (definitely a topic I will cover in a later Sunday post).
I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am LDS, a Latter-day Saint. The Church of Jesus Christ has actually released a style guide directing how writers should speak about the Church. I hope that both member and non-member readers alike will find it as interesting as I did.
The official name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This full name was given by revelation from God to Joseph Smith in 1838.—
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.
When writing about the Church, please follow these guidelines:
- In the first reference, the full name of the Church is preferred: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Please avoid the use of “Mormon Church,” “LDS Church” or “the Church of the Latter-day Saints.”
- When a shortened reference is needed, the terms “the Church” or “the Church of Jesus Christ” are encouraged.
- When referring to Church members, the term “Latter-day Saints” is preferred, though “Mormons” is acceptable.
- “Mormon” is correctly used in proper names such as the Book of Mormon, Mormon Tabernacle Choir or Mormon Trail, or when used as an adjective in such expressions as “Mormon pioneers.”
- The term “Mormonism” is acceptable in describing the combination of doctrine, culture and lifestyle unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- When referring to people or organizations that practice polygamy, the terms “Mormons,” “Mormon fundamentalist,” “Mormon dissidents,” etc. are incorrect. The Associated Press Stylebook notes: “The term Mormon is not properly applied to the other … churches that resulted from the split after [Joseph] Smith’s death.”
I wouldn’t blame anyone for being confused at this point, as I know I learned a few things from reading this. We, as a Church, are attempting to find ways to both accept and distance ourselves from the term “Mormon.” We can’t eliminate it completely because it is so ingrained in mainstream cultures view and description of who we are, but it does indeed create a false understanding of what the Church believes.
We believe that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ. Not the church of Mormon. Who is this Mormon? He is the Book of Mormon prophet who compiled the records of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. I’m sure most of you have seen these guys before.
That Husband served for 2-years in the Bronx, NY mission. He’s in the front row, second from the right.
If you’ve seen the missionaries, they probably tried to tell you about this:
Mormon didn’t write the entire book, but he did compile the text from many different sources about 1500 years ago. The use of the term “Mormon” in reference to the group of people belonging to the Church began sometime during the 1800′s, likely as a derogatory term used by those who opposed the church. I do not believe that in all uses it is meant to be derogatory any longer, although it does seem that the most antagonistic articles written about the Church today use strictly the term “Mormon” rather than the correct name The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I hope that this post was helpful to you. If you are a member of the Church, I hope the style guide above will help you better understand how to write about the Church. If you are not a member, I hope it helped you distinguish the difference between The Church of Jesus Christ, the LDS people, and the Mormon church.
I have a favorite story. There are many variations of this story in “Mormon folklore”, and I hope you won’t mind me taking some liberty in free-forming the retelling of it:
There was a terrible disaster this past month in Florida. Power was gone, water was scarce, and the survivors did not know where to turn. The word was spread, calls were made, and many compassionate groups and individuals showed up at the scene to help rebuild in the wake of disaster. Mayor Joe Green was interviewed a day or two after the storm, and asked to make a statement about the relief effort. “They have brought in clothes, food, toys and blankets. They have tended to the sick and many other acts of compassion. I don’t know how we could have made it without the help of these volunteers. The biggest contributors to the relief effort? The Mormons and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I hope that after reading this post you will understand why that never fails to make me smile.