Mormon leader: Nicknames for faith are ‘victory for Satan’

President Russell M. Nelson leaves the morning session of a twice-annual conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Oct. 6, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The president of the Mormon church reiterated Sunday (Oct. 7) that he wants members, the media and others to use the faith’s full name, saying nicknames are “a major victory for Satan.”

Addressing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ twice-yearly conference in Salt Lake City, Russell M. Nelson said the church’s name “is not negotiable.”

“When the Savior clearly states what the name of his church should be, and even precedes his declaration with, ‘Thus shall my church be called,’ he is serious,” Nelson said. “And if we allow nicknames to be used and adopt or even sponsor those nicknames ourselves, he is offended.”

Nelson, 94, who is considered a prophet, reiterated that his instruction is not a name change, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

“It is a correction,” he said. “It is the command of the Lord.”

Nelson’s speech came after the church announced Friday that the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been renamed the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. It’s the first big change since Nelson announced guidelines in August asking people to stop using previously accepted shorthand names.

The faith had embraced and promoted the term “Mormon” over the past several years, using it in a documentary and TV and billboard ads. A church webpage that was up before Nelson’s announcement had described the term as an “unofficial but inoffensive nickname for members.”

If people use “Mormon” to describe the church or its members, Nelson on Sunday urged adherents to “be courteous and patient” in their efforts to correct them.

Nelson, who in January took over the top post of the Utah-based faith with 16 million members worldwide after the previous president died, rejected what he called “worldly arguments,” including the benefits of internet search engine optimization with the word “Mormon.”

The faith believes that God revealed the full church name to founder Joseph Smith in 1838. The term “Mormon” comes from the church’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, which followers believe is based on the record-keeping of an ancient prophet named Mormon.

The entry about the church in the Associated Press Stylebook, which many news outlets follow, remains unchanged.

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  • Nelson has outdone himself in the coo-coo for Coco-pops category if you consider all of the times that all of his predecessors have used the familiar nicknames for the LDS Church. Back in the early 1960s, the Church put out an official missionary movie called “Meet the Mormons.” Does that mean that the governing leaders of his church were just pleasing the Devil by doing so? Nelson is the Donald Trump of Mormonism and that comparison is not a compliment.

  • This one ranks right up there with Cardinal Sarah’s proclamation that Host without gluten is unworthy.

  • Reminds me of second grade. The schoolyard bully, a large brute, liked to call names and had a particular name for one of the kids who didn’t seem like he would fight back. He kept calling the kid the name day after day. The kid at first tried to be good natured about it, or just laugh it off. That didn’t work. Then the kid asked the bully nicely to stop, but that seemed to only encourage the bully more. However, the day came when the bully became even more relentless and even tried to get physical with the kid because he thought the kid was a pushover. Suddenly the bullied kid, six inches shorter than the bully, had had enough. He went at the bully quickly, stepped on both the bully’s feet at the same time and shoved him hard. The bully was stunned by how fast the kid had come at him. The bully toppled over backwards, hitting his head on the pavement as he did, and just laid there. He was soon on his way to get stitches and be treated for a concussion. Didn’t feel much like being a bully after that.

    That “Mormons” would at some point, after trying to be good-natured about it and trying to make the best of it, start to lose patience with the whole thing of being called by a nickname their enemies gave them, especially as the religion ages and matures, is not surprising. They like “Mormon” who was an important ancient prophet to them, but it is not their name. A few feeble attempts have been made by previous prophets to resist. However, Nelson is not a status quo leader and appears to be serious about using some of his organizational muscle to a do some push back, regardless of criticism. He doesn’t seem to care or be intimidated. He may actually make a dent this time. Just hope he is a nice enough guy not to go for the feet when he pushes back.

  • This is right up there with announcing a new Mormon temple for Yuba City California, located in the heart of the golden state’s Trump country, which is simply more evidence that if you believe in Trump, Nelson and the Tooth Fairy, they will upgrade your worship facilities. Yeah.

  • One could question whether the pettiness is Nelson’s or his god’s. There appears to be strong evidence that Nelson exists.

    In view of Nelson’s age some might seek Biblical backing by offering Job 12:12 (NB – it doesn’t claim always!).

    Please note I have no dog in this fight as I’m not yet old enough to qualify as ancient in the eyes of anyone over 40.

  • What pure abject silliness. The bully is the overpaid leadership making the members jump around like puppets on strings.

  • I don’t have anything against LDS naming itself for latter day saints than actually aren’t. Everybody does brand imaging these days, some of it confusing. (Saints? What saints?) Them returning to the longer official name simply doesn’t matter to the rest of us.

  • You might have a bit of a point if it weren’t for the fact that previous actions by the LDS have encouraged and revelled in the term “Mormon”.
    Think recent advertising.

    For a religion that depends upon revelation they sure have a God who can’t get it right first time – or maybe the deity is simply an imaginary extension of the individual.

    It is not uncommon for new leaders to be so removed from reality that they can’t see beyond their own tenure.

    I worked for a very large multinational for 12 years. In that time we had six UK Managing Directors. The divisional name when I started was “Business Information Service” – that, after all, was what we were. Each of the six changed the division’s title – rather like the new leader of the pride killing his predecessors cubs. None of the new titles was either so accurate nor as memorable – indeed – I can’t recall any of them – nor, come to that, the names of those who presumably that thought they were ensuring their immortality.

  • “The Saints were first called Christians at Antioch.”
    – Acts 11:26

    Saints is another name for members of the church. Because the Latter-day Saints believe they have a restored church, they refer to the members of the primitive church as former-day saints. One of my favorite hymns for All Saints Day is For All the Saints.

  • Essentially, this change is equivalent to the recent news that Dunkin’ Donuts’ is dropping the word “Donuts'” from their name. . . .
    . . . It’s all about marketing.

  • Thanks. That will be helpful info to the non-LDS crowd. My first intro to “temple worship” was getting dunked at age 12 for the dead.

  • Thanks for the correction, but the term was not original to that film. If you bothered to look a little deeper you would find that the 2014 film is borrowed from a missionary film of the same name that Thomas S. Monson produced as a member of the Twelve in the 1970s, one that I used as a missionary in that era. Were you in diapers then or not yet born? I did originally place it back earlier, confusing it with another similar film from my childhood.

  • Okay by me. They will believe what they believe and most other people won’t go there with them on all the details of the doctrine. My experience with LDS people is Donnie and Marie, and some young male missionary guys who came to our door decades ago when my wife and I were first married. We gave them cookies, which they appreciated.

  • It is about marketing, but this does the opposite of what you would expect from marketing experts. Dunkin’ is betting that its brand is so well identified that a shorthand will be the equivalent of its entire name. Just like what Starbucks did — their stores are now officially “Starbucks,” not “Starbucks Coffee,” because people were saying, “Let’s go to Starbucks.” And Dunkin’ Donuts has been moving away from a donut focus and toward coffee for decades. The Mormon move here is like Rhode Island’s tourism board insisting that visitors refer to it as “the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.”