The Real Reason Mormons Don’t Want To Be Called Mormons Anymore

For the uninitiated, Mormons might merely be those guys in short sleeve, white shirts who ride around on bicycles, knock on your door, and talk to you about their liturgical text, The Book of Mormon (but are different from Jehovah’s Witnesses). Or, they might be the religion most often referenced by Trey Parker and Matt Stone in their long-running animated series South Parkand hit, comedy-musical The Book of Mormon.  

As the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints website says, though, there are actually over 16 million Mormons worldwide, centered in Utah, at this point comprising about 31,000 congregations, 54,000 missionaries, and who give humanitarian aid to 142 different countries. Despite an on-and-off troubling history stemming from the Book of Mormon’s description of their church as “a white and a delightsome people” (per the Atlantic), as well as a history of enslavement of Native Americans (per History), and confusion among other Christians about Mormon doctrine, the Mormon church continues to grow.

As of October 8, 2018, though, Mormons don’t want to be called Mormons anymore, recounts the Washington Post. Ninety-six-year old President Russell M. Nelson said, “It’s not Mormon’s church, it’s not Moses’s church, it’s Jesus Christ’s.” He also said that using “Mormon” equates with a “victory for Satan.” The official name of the church, he stated, is the entire, unabbreviated, “Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints,” and that doesn’t mean that “LDS” is okay, either.

The word 'Mormon' comes from the North American prophet, Mormon

The news came as a surprise to other “saints” (the church’s internal name for their own members), such as a columnist on Religion News, who asked, “did the Church consult with any working journalists in creating this new style guide that journalists are supposed to use?” Another website, Purpose in Christ, admits that Mormons kind of all just grew up saying “Mormon,” that it “is not at all offensive to us (we even call ourselves Mormons).” This article goes on to repeat what President Nelson said: Their church belongs to Jesus. The writer then provides some contextual information about the origins of the term “Mormons.”

Basically, as church tradition says, from about 2000 BCE to 600 CE, there were numerous prophets on the North American continent: Nephi, Ammon, Alma, Moroni, and yes, Mormon. Mormon kept all of the writings of the other prophets in one bundle, later referred to as “The Book of Mormon,” which was delivered to Joseph Smith in 1820 via an angel. The prophets, it’s said, received their inspiration directly from Jesus, whom they believe appeared in North America in 34 CE after his resurrection, as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints text relates. Fast forward to 1833, and presto: we’ve got the first chronicled use of the word “Mormon.” This makes Mormon a kind of revelatory figure like John of Patmos, credited with writing the Book of Revelations in the New Testament.

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