By Kent Larsen
LDS Church Wants to be Called 'Church of Jesus Christ'
NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- A New York Times article yesterday reported that the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will begin a new push to get
journalists, Church members and the public to refer to the Church by its
official name, or a newly suggested alternative, the "Church of Jesus
Christ." The effort is just the latest step in the Church's efforts to
discourage the familiar term "Mormon Church" and the first to make the
suggestion that the term "Church of Jesus Christ" be used instead of "LDS
The Times article is based on an interview last Thursday with Apostle Dallin
H. Oakes by the Times' Gustave Niebuhr. In the interview, Elder Oaks
indicates that the decision to make this push had been made by the Church's
First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recently. "We haven't
adopted a new name of the church. We have adopted a short-hand reference to
the church that we think is more accurate," Elder Oaks told Niebuhr. In
spite of the empahsis, Elder Oaks indicated that the request does not extend
to terms for members of the Church, even though it prefers that Church
members be called "Latter-day Saints," "I don't mind being called a Mormon,
but I don't want it said that I belong to the Mormon Church," said Elder Oaks.
However, as the Deseret News reported yesterday, the Church's request will
be difficult to get journalists and others to use. Even many Church members
use the term "Mormon Church" simply because it is shorter and because it is
so generally accepted that most listeners know what it means. The Church's
official name is less well known, and the term "Church of Jesus Christ"
will, at least at first, be wholly unfamiliar or even refer to another
church in the minds of some listeners.
In his remarks to the Times, Elder Oaks indicated that the Church's request
came partially in response to the attention that the Church has and is
expected to receive as the 2002 Winter Olympics comes to Salt Lake City,
Utah. An informal Mormon News review of articles published since the
beginning of February about the 2002 Olympics that mention the Church shows
that half only refer to the Church as the "Mormon Church." Five articles
gave only the Church's full name and two gave both.
Church members have long known and Church leaders long emphasized that
"Mormon Church" is not an accurate name for the Church. The effort have even
persuaded the highly-regarded Associated Press Style Guide to favor the
Church's full name over "Mormon Church." However, at least some of the news
reports included in Mormon News' review claim to follow the AP Style Guide,
but ignore it in this case.
Another part of the reason for the new emphasis is the Church's ongoing
battle against those that label it as not Christian.
Adapting 'Mormon' to Emphasize Christianity
New York Times 19Feb01 N1
By Gustav Niebuhr
Phaseout of Mormon as a title may not be easy
Deseret News 19Feb01 N1
Church Moves To Adjust Use Of Its Name
Salt Lake Tribune 20Feb01 N1
By Peggy Fletcher Stack and Bob Mims: Salt Lake Tribune