How would it be for you if I insisted on calling you by the wrong name, and also used that name to insist on telling the world that you are what you are not?
The word is “Mormon.”
The entire world, including “Mormons” themselves, refer to the members of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints as “Mormons.” This is a problem. The word has allowed confusion about our beliefs and worship. No wonder that, at last, the leader and prophet of the church, President Nelson, made an official declaration broadcasted worldwide that this has got to stop. He said that,“The official name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The full name was given by revelation from God to Joseph Smith in 1838.” (For interest in the proper word usage, I am recopying below the text as posted on the lds.org website).
About “telling the world that you are what you are not,” it is clear that it is unclear that Christ is our God, and that the word “Mormon” is responsible for that doubt. Mormon was a man. He was a prophet. He was a writer, a record keeper. The church honors him and treasures the book that bears his name. That is all.
Worst of all, the unclear reference to Christian worship intrinsic to the word Mormon has allowed the uninformed, biased section of world population to think of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints as a cult. I experience it all the time. Quoting from my book, UNSEEN WORLDS (chapter 10, p. 189):
“… I wish that my own mother had treated me with a fraction of that respect when I told her about my conversion. But perhaps she was unwittingly making me pay in advance for what I would reveal about her during that interview. “Quoi! Tu es FOLLE—What! Are you NUTS? She said. “You’re telling me that you’ve joined a cult? A CULT! Good GOD! My daughter is insane! Fit-to-be-tied!”
“Mother… it’s not a cult…”
“YES IT IS… First it’s Vodou, now it’s Mormons! When will you LEARN? This has got to stop!”
“Oh Mother… can’t you show a little interest in my search for God… and what it is I commit to?”
“‘Commit’ is the right word—you ought to be committed!”
“How about having some respect for what I value… or just love me how I am?”
“Respect? What do you mean respect? You change religion as often as you do husbands!”
I hope this made you laugh. It is meant to. Less laughable is the recent email I received from a very old friend of mine. Here is what she wrote:
“You do not understand my disdain for them. For years I have watched Mormons try to seduce our elders into transferring their lands to the Mormon Church. And they will probably do the same to you with whatever money you have. As you wrote in your book, they already bought your father’s land, then quickly sold it at a profit. To me they are nothing but cultist-opportunists. My hope is one day you will tire of them and go on to something else.”
“… As for the word “Mormons,” we have been asked by the church leadership that this word no longer be used except in reference to the Book of Mormon… We do not worship or pray to Mormon or to any saints or prophets… I respect your negative feelings towards my church. I would however ask you to refrain from speaking about it in an insulting manner. Members of the church strive for Christ-like perfection because theyare imperfect. I don’t know who the people of the church whom you “met” in your youth were, and why they made such a negative impression. It is not impossible that there were one or more dishonest members of the church who tried some con job for their own benefit. I certainly do not believe that these persons’ actions would have been in accordance with the church’s principles, even if this happened some 65 years ago!
Errors have been made. How not to? Like all of humanity, the church itself, along with its members, progresses spiritually and increases in maturity; it constantly adapts to the ways the world evolves, to what the times require of an active church, one that we believe and insist was instituted and continues to be led by Christ Himself.
The members of the church I write about in Unseen Worlds and to whom you refer in your email, the ones who bought my land, did run a hospital for a while. While they certainly are as imperfect as the rest of us, it cannot be denied that they suffered. Please refer to my book, ‘…they had been deceived, robbed blind by greedy, dishonest people who took advantage of their trust and generosity. The Millers were people who are the product of a society of plenty; they could not have even begun to imagine what easy prey they would be for people harassed from birth by economic destitution and desperation, beings whose imagination is solely focused on findings ways to survive each day, and seizing opportunities sprung in the moment… they finally understood the goings on, and progressively detached themselves from the ship. The 2010 earthquake finished the sinking job.’
These people bought my land and buildings at the price I asked. I can’t blame them either for selling after all crumbled, or that the price of land went up after the earthquake. You must have read my book with blinders and biases.”
OFFICIAL DECLARATION BY THE CHURCH: “The official name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The full name was given by revelation from God to Joseph Smith in 1838.
- In the first reference, the full name of the Church is preferred: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
- When a shortened reference is needed, the terms “the Church” or the “Church of Jesus Christ” are encouraged. The “restored Church of Jesus Christ” is also accurate and encouraged.
- 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.
- “Mormon” is correctly used in proper names such as the Book of Mormon or when used as an adjective in such historical expressions as “Mormon Trail.”
- The term “Mormonism” is inaccurate and should not be used. When describing the combination of doctrine, culture and lifestyle unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the term “the restored gospel of Jesus Christ” is accurate and preferred.
- When referring to people or organizations that practice polygamy, it should be stated that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not affiliated with polygamous groups.”
Please look for my memoir Unseen Worlds on Amazon out now