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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Want to Drop the 'Mormon' Moniker

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints conjures up plenty of different images. Some people equate the Latter Day Saints with bland, middle-of-the-road public figures like Mitt Romney or (if you're old enough) the Osmonds. Others may think of polygamy. Still others may recall those eager, if dorky, young missionaries making their way through town in their short-sleeve white shirts and ties.

The LDS church has a reputation for serving the community, particularly the poor and needy. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is one of the finest religious musical entities in the world. The Latter Day Saints are some of the foremost genealogical researchers on the planet, and the reputation of their large, close-knit families — again, like the Osmonds and the Romneys — remains sterling. But most of all, people know this faith by one short name: Mormons.

But not for long, if the Church has its way. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has released its new style guide, which avoids nicknames and abbreviations. The church's president, Russell Nelson, made an announcement coinciding with the release. "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," he said. "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."

The style guide notes that the church prefers media outlets to use the full name of the church whenever possible, and it makes clear the verbal shorthand to avoid when referring to the church or its members.

  • 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.
  • The term "Mormonism" is inaccurate and should not be used.

The guide also emphasizes the importance of clarifying that the Church does not promote polygamy when journalists write articles on those who do practice plural marriage.

Sheri Dew, executive vice president and chief content officer of Deseret Management Corporation, told Deseret News that the new focus on proper names for the Church is a large and important step. "This appears to be a more seismic shift than just a reinforcement of a former policy," she said. "It seems that the president of the church is saying that, surely, if we expect anyone else to get the name of the church right, we better start by getting the name of the church right ourselves, and one major problem with every nickname we have all used and fallen into is that they cut out the name of Jesus Christ."