Wednesday, October 24, 2018

So I Guess I'm Not a Mormon Anymore

I knew that title would prompt many of you to read.

I still belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That has not changed. Really, nothing has  except the nickname "Mormon."

Our prophet President Nelson has asked us to stop using it.

When I mentioned this to one of my Catholic friends, she asked "So is 'Mormon,' like, a derogatory word?"

Well, yes and no.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were sometimes called "Mormons" or "Mormonites" in the early 1800s because of our belief in the Book of Mormon, a book of scripture titled after a person named Mormon who is actually in the book.

Since the people calling us "Mormons" were the same people occasionally tarring and feathering us, you can imagine it wasn't exactly a term of endearment.

After a while, though, as sometimes happens with slurs, we appropriated the term Mormon and started using it with pride. (But thank goodness we didn't appropriate "Mormonites.")

The way the Mormons in your life refer to themselves is about to change.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Author photo for reference, and also because I feel weird publishing a blog post with no pictures.

While the incorrect name "Mormon church" always made me and the rest of the church bristle, we collectively had no problem referring to ourselves as Mormons or our church as the LDS Church.

And that's how everyone else knew us anyway, so we should just go with it, right?

"If this were a discussion about branding a man-made organization, those arguments might prevail," President Nelson said at general conference earlier this month, "...[but] Jesus Christ directed us to call the Church by His name because it is His Church, filled with His power."

It's true.

We believe Jesus Christ personally leads this church and specifically designated its name "the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" in a revelation that has been canonized.

In writing this post, I've started typing "Mormon" and had to delete it at least a half-dozen times. Old habits die hard.

President Nelson suggests we refer to ourselves as "members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Or "members of the restored church of Jesus Christ." Or for short, "Latter-day Saints" (although it's not nearly as short and snappy as "Mormons.")

From an SEO perspective, or even from a logistical "how do I name my religion without putting everyone in the room to sleep while I'm saying it?" perspective, I admit I'm still trying to work this out in my mind.

And yet, I welcome this course correction and the shift away from the church's old nickname.

While it's true the average Joe is more likely to recognize the word "Mormon" than the full 11-syllable name of the church, that doesn't necessarily mean he knows who we are or what we believe, or really anything about us.

(Case in point: one of Phillip's old co-workers was totally blown away when Phillip said he was Mormon, because he was positive Mormon and Amish were the same thing.)

What's more, some people are convinced that Mormons aren't Christian. I'm deeply offended by that, but to be fair there's nothing in the nickname "Mormon" that really suggests otherwise.

I suppose someone could go around saying "Mormons don't believe in Jesus!" and sound credible, but it would be a lot harder sell to argue that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don't believe in Jesus.

Using the full and correct name of the church certainly requires a bigger breath before I start talking, but seeing as one of the commitments I made at baptism was, in our faith's parliance, to "take Christ's name upon me," I think I'll just have to put on my big girl pants and do it.

Yes, I was proud of being a Mormon.

But I'm even prouder to belong the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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8 comments:

  1. I'd read about the change before I saw your post so I knew what it was about but the title still made me laugh.

    And don't feel bad. The same people who think Latter Day Saints aren't Christians frequently also think Catholics aren't Christians. In vain have I argued that if belief in Jesus Christ is a cornerstone of your faith, you are perforce a Christian, since "Christian" derives from "Christ." Which makes Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics, Jehovahs Witnesses, Episcopalians, Anglicans, Latter Day Saints, AND the Amish...all Christians.

    I was glad to read your explanation of the change because I didn't understand it totally. I've read quite a lot about the early days of your church and I know that its members were persecuted across several states for many years, so it makes sense that the name used by your persecutors would not be the preferred shorthand for the faith.

    Thanks for an interesting post!

    PS I always have to post as anonymous because I don't have a URL. But my name is Julie and I live in Oklahoma and I swear I'm not a Russian Robot.

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    1. You do have impeccable grammar for a Russian robot, so I guess I'll have to believe you, "Julie" from "Oklahoma." For now.

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  2. You did not fool me (for some reason I find it imperative that you know that). If, by now, you hadn't mastered the art of creating an attention grabbing headline, you would be in the wrong business. You are decidedly NOT in the wrong business.Having said all that, I want to add that in all my atheistic glory, I find strange comfort in your constant demonstration of absolute faith. Why? I really couldn't tell you, I just do. Therefore, henceforth, I will stop referring to you as "this hilarious Mormon woman I follow" and refer to you as "this hilarious Latter Day Saint that I follow". Typically I wouldn't refer to someones's religion when describing them but, for you, I make an exception as it is your own self-described identity. I will also take every opportunity to mock you if ever you slip up in the future and call yourself Mormon. Because that is just fun! - Kathy

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    1. AuntSue One day, you might just find that there is something to the Christian faith. I hope you do.

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    2. Thanks, Kathy! I really appreciate your continued respect for something that is a very important part of my life!

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  3. I could totally see many people confusing "Mormonite" with "Mennonite" which would probably get you even more questions about the Amish.

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  4. "I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ" is a good lead-in... then if there's confusion add "of Latter-Day Saints -- you know, no coffee/tea/smoking/alcohol... we read the Bible and Book of Mormon as testaments of Christ"

    I even used to use my 10 character nametag to reference almost all parts of the missionary lessons in Chinese when there was an earlier emphasis on using the full name.

    It's an opportunity to witness and we're inspired it'll work out to the better.

    Lil joke --
    Did you know my church members actually made better furniture than the Shakers?
    Yes, but their celibacy doctrine meant no kids so the chairs survived.

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    1. No furniture lasts long with the likes of my kids around, that's for sure.

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