Conference was full of revelations: The Revelation on Two-Hour Church (let’s all stop and give a silent moment of thanks for this one). The Revelation on Home Study As Long As You Only Study LDS Publications. The Revelation on Watching Monday Night Football Is Just Fine If You Hold FHE Some Other Night. The Revelation on It Will Be A Cold Day In Hell Before We Rescind or Modify The November Policy. But I’m going to talk about the revelation that is getting too much discussion in the media and online, overshadowing the more important revelations I noted above: The Revelation on Not Using The Term “Mormon” Except For The Book of Mormon — Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
First, let me defend my approach. These revelations aren’t going into the D&C to get a proper title like “D&C 139” or “D&C 140.” But they are plainly revelations: President Nelson said, in relation to The Revelation on Not Using The Term “Mormon” Except For The Book of Mormons — Another Testament of Jesus Christ, that “It is the command of the Lord.” And the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which has produced more good PR for the Church than any person, place, or thing not named Steve Young, is now “The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.” So this isn’t one of those here today, gone tomorrow revelations like The Revelation on First-Sunday Councils In Priesthood And Relief Society Where We Talk A Lot But It’s Not A Lesson. This is a real one, it’s here to stay, and it deserves a name. So I have named it The Revelation on Not Using The Term “Mormon” Except For The Book of Mormon — Another Testament of Jesus Christ. If you think that title is a bit too long, think of it every time you say, “No, I’m not a Mormon, I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” instead of “Yes, I am.” Short, pithy responses are out. Long and awkward titles are in. Get with the program, you recalcitrant Progressive Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Now, about content. I see some problems applying this The Revelation on Not Using The Term “Mormon” Except For The Book of Mormons — Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The leadership is not going to change the name of The Book of Mormon — Another Testament of Jesus Christ, so the term “Mormon” is still going to featured prominently in Church discussions. They won’t be able to stop everyone else in the world from referring to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as Mormons, and the media (except for the Deseret News) is likely to continue using the term to refer to the Church and its members. This is like a demand from President Trump that henceforth no one is to use the term “Americans” but instead Citizen of the United States of America. This isn’t going to stop the media and everyone who doesn’t work at the White House from using the term “American.” So at the very best this policy will meet only partial success at changing how the term “Mormon” is used, even within the Church.
One likely effect of The Revelation on Not Using The Term “Mormon” Except For The Book of Mormons — Another Testament of Jesus Christ is to change the way members speak to and about each other, substituting awkward and convoluted phrases to refer to the Church and its members where previously simple and understandable terms were used. You may have noticed I am embracing this new Latter-day Saint awkwardness in this post. Get used to it.
Another likely effect is to create some awkward and confusing conversations between members and non-members. Such as this perfectly predictable and straightforward conversation:
“Are you a Mormon?”
“Well, yes, but we don’t use that word anymore.”
“Because our prophet-president has told us that term is part of Satan’s plan to misrepresent God’s true church on the earth, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
I am open to your responses identifying the positive effects of The Revelation on Not Using The Term “Mormon” Except For The Book of Mormons — Another Testament of Jesus Christ that I have somehow missed. I suppose that when you are asked, you can now legitimately respond, “No, I am not a Mormon.” That might come in handy from time to time.
Any other ideas? Please be careful to avoid the use of the term “Mormon” in your responses. You need some practice at this challenging new way of speaking and writing.