The phrase “Mormon” is out, says the president of the Utah-based church. But the correct time period for what to name the religion and its followers is a mouthful.
In an announcement on Thursday, President Russell M. Nelson insisted that Mormons and non-Mormons alike keep on with the time period “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Mr. Nelson, 93, mentioned that the coverage change got here to him in a revelation from God and that members of the church should work to regulate their vernacular. “The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church,” he mentioned in a press release.
The church’s up to date style guide specifies that “Mormon Church,” “Mormons” and “Mormonism” are not acceptable. And no, you shouldn’t use the abbreviation “L.D.S.,” both.
The solely exceptions listed are for the Book of Mormon, the church’s sacred textual content, and historic names like the Mormon Trail, a government-recognized path that members of the church took from Illinois to Utah in the mid-19th century.
The abrupt shift was left largely unexplained by the church, whose spokesman declined to elaborate on the rationale behind the new coverage, however church leaders have promoted the thought for many years. In 1990, Mr. Nelson pushed for the use of the church’s formal name because it was communicated by the prophet Joseph Smith in 1838, in line with non secular doctrine.
“Sometimes a nickname is used instead of the real name,” Mr. Nelson, then a lower-level chief, mentioned in a speech at a church convention. “But a nickname may offend either the one named or the parents who gave the name.”
Some church members are properly conscious that the directive is unlikely to be adopted by outsiders like teachers and journalists. (For now at the very least, The New York Times’s fashion information continues to permit “Mormon.”)
“I don’t think it’s going to stop our friends outside of the church from calling us nicknames,” mentioned Richard E. Bennett, a professor of church historical past at Brigham Young University. “But certainly among members of the church, we’ll be making a greater effort to follow the directions.”
The coverage change presents a snag for Dr. Bennett’s personal tutorial profession: His biography lists him as an skilled in 19th-century Mormon historical past. On Friday morning, Dr. Bennett discovered himself going via drafts of his writing to replace its language.
The church acknowledges that folks will want extra concise terminology, and means that they use the “restored Church of Jesus Christ,” amongst different phrases.
Matthew Bowman, the creator of a e book referred to as “The Mormon People,” mentioned this implies that the coverage may be an effort to emphasise the church’s distinctive tackle Christianity. Dr. Bowman mentioned the time period “restored” refers to the concept that the authentic Christian faith is out of date, and Mormons alone are working towards true Christianity.
Mormon was first used as a derogatory time period in the 19th century by folks from outdoors the religion, Dr. Bowman mentioned. But members of the church quickly started to embrace the title, and it was in huge use by the 20th century.
Over a decade in the past, earlier than the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, church management made an identical push for folks to make use of its full title: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But the effort was a bust.
Rocky Anderson, the mayor of Salt Lake City at the time, discovered the cumbersome language unimaginable to take care of. “It was so awkward,” mentioned Mr. Anderson, who grew up in the church however not considers himself a member. “It seemed almost a parody of sorts to comply.”
The new coverage could current a problem for distinguished church members who focus on their religion in the wider public sphere, the place the new directive is unlikely to be adopted.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, for instance, must contemplate including a number of phrases to its title. And Mitt Romney, who’s a Mormon, could have a option to make as he campaigns to symbolize Utah in the Senate. (A spokeswoman for Mr. Romney declined to remark.)
Doug Andersen, a spokesman for the church, mentioned church leaders deliberate to handle issues about problems with practicality, however there was “no timetable” for doing so. He declined to debate the choice in additional element.
Dr. Bowman, the historian of Mormonism, rejected the concept that the church was distancing itself from the phrase due to the in style musical “The Book of Mormon,” which satirized the religion.
After the present was first staged in 2011, church leaders doubled down on the use of the time period, persevering with to publish a sequence of commercials referred to as “I’m a Mormon,” which aimed to counteract stereotypes about the religion by telling private tales.
Historians have one other rationale for the shift. In making this coverage change, the church could want to affiliate itself with the wider Christian world by referring to Jesus Christ in its title, mentioned Dr. Bennett, the professor at Brigham Young University.
“There are many who don’t think the church is Christian, that it might be some sort of cult or something,” Dr. Bennett added. “It is putting front and center our earnest belief in Christ and his mission.”
“That is central to the emphasis on showing the Christianity in Mormonism,” he mentioned, earlier than checking his language. “If I can say that.”