Breaking news:

On first reference, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is preferred, according to the Church’s Newsroom site. “The Church,” “Church of Jesus Christ” and the “restored Church of Jesus Christ” are acceptable as abbreviated names.

“The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” President Russell M. Nelson said in a statement Thursday. “We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will. In recent weeks, various Church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so.”

Members of the Church should be referred to as “members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” or “Latter-day Saints,” not “Mormons,” according to Newsroom.

I couldn’t help but think of this exchange between orphan Anne Shirley and her new guardian Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables:

“What’s your name?”

The child hesitated for a moment.

“Will you please call me Cordelia?” she said eagerly.

Call you Cordelia? Is that your name?”

“No-o-o, it’s not exactly my name, but I would love to be called Cordelia. It’s such a perfectly elegant name.”

“I don’t know what on earth you mean. If Cordelia isn’t your name, what is?”

“Anne Shirley,” reluctantly faltered forth the owner of that name, “but, oh, please do call me Cordelia. It can’t matter much to you what you call me if I’m only going to be here a little while, can it? And Anne is such an unromantic name.”

“Unromantic fiddlesticks!” said the unsympathetic Marilla. “Anne is a real good plain sensible name. You’ve no need to be ashamed of it.”

“Oh, I’m not ashamed of it,” explained Anne, “only I like Cordelia better. I’ve always imagined that my name was Cordelia–at least, I always have of late years. When I was young I used to imagine it was Geraldine, but I like Cordelia better now. But if you call me Anne please call me Anne spelled with an E.”

“What difference does it make how it’s spelled?” asked Marilla with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot.

“Oh, it makes such a difference. It looks so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished. If you’ll only call me Anne spelled with an E I shall try to reconcile myself to not being called Cordelia.”

So, a few quick thoughts on the name change:

  1. It’s nearly impossible to get someone to call you something harder and less catchy than what they’ve already been calling you for over 150 years.
  2. Even getting it out of the church’s own lexicon is nearly impossible. The church owns several web sites and ventures with “Mormon” or “LDS” in them. Someone observed that when he read the linked article, there was an ad for “LDS Business College” that popped up on the same page as the article!
  3. There are other churches that insist on owning all of Christianity, but it always comes across like a jerk move to me. Years ago, my assistant told me she was raised Catholic, but now she was Christian. I raised my eyebrows at this declaration and said I thought millions of Catholics would find that statement surprising as they too consider themselves Christian. I asked what denomination, and she insisted it was just “Christian.” (It was actually an evangelical mega-church). She refused to be pinned down further than that. It just rubbed me wrong, honestly. It smacks of self-aggrandizement coupled with an insult to everyone else.
  4. Someone else pointed out that for people who are so at war with “political correctness,” they sure are tetchy about what we call them.
  5. Rebranding is a time honored business tradition, as is having a style guide, but if we really expect a rebranding to happen, it’s going to take a whole lot more than this.

What do you think?

  • Is it a positive change, focusing on Jesus Christ and away from the short-handed name associated with the book that makes us unique?
  • Will the church successfully re-brand things like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or the “I’m a Mormon” campaign?
  • Is this going to go over like a fart in church? Will we lead a horse to water, only to find that he’s brought his own water bottle?
  • Do you consider this revelation?
  • As someone else suggested, does this make the church “Anti-Mormon” and all its members “Ex-Mormons”?

Discuss.