In a reversal of years of branding and more than a century of colloquial use, the religion commonly known as the Mormon Church has asked that people stop using the word “Mormon” when referring to the faith.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Thursday in an update to its style guide that the nickname “Mormon” and the abbreviation “LDS” should be avoided. Instead, the church would prefer to be called “the Church,” “the Church of Jesus Christ,” or “the restored Church of Jesus Christ.”
Members of the faith, who are widely referred to as “Mormons,” should be called “members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” or “Latter-day Saints.”
“We ask that the term ‘Mormons’ not be used,” the style guide now states. It also says that “the term ‘Mormonism’ is inaccurate and should not be used.”
Referring to the changes, the faith’s leader, President Russell Nelson, said in a statement Thursday that “the Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church,” adding that “we have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will.”
The church has had a long and varied relationship with the term Mormon, but in recent years leaned heavily into the nickname. In 2010, it launched a high-profile international advertising campaign titled I’m a Mormon. The campaign included billboards, signs, and interviews that typically included a member of the faith declaring “I’m a Mormon.”
The direction for the name change is in the Church’s style guide. The style guide says, inter-alia:
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.
The church’s “I’m a Mormon” campaign in a London tube station in 2013.