Mormon no more?

The church’s longtime website,, now redirects to, and will soon switch over, too. In May, the church stopped posting on its @MormonChannel Instagram feed and encouraged followers to move to @ChurchofJesusChrist instead.

The church-affiliated publishing house, Deseret Book, has been phasing out or renaming titles that used the word Mormon, prompting authors to scramble to rename their books and figure out new marketing plans — ones that don’t require the use of internet search terms that are 11 syllables long.

The shift became impossible to ignore when the church’s iconic musical organization announced in October that it would no longer be known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

All of this has left adherents with a bit of whiplash, especially following the church’s 2011 “I’m a Mormon” advertising campaign, in which leaders went all in by placing ads on buses and billboards in New York’s Times Square and plastering the internet with profiles of tens of thousands of Mormons.

Some members have felt relief and a new optimism about broader inclusion in American society.

Viewing this strictly as an outsider, I see a benefit in keeping American religions as relatively distinct, rather than more coordinated.  The distinctly LDS approaches to poverty and missions, might have been less likely to evolve had the Church been closer to mainstream American Protestantism in earlier times.  Here is the full NYT story.


What will they rename the Book of Mormon?

Well, the Reformed Egyptian translation into English was a bit tricky, so in the light of possible new scholarship, another more appropriate name may suggest itself.

Or god will simply let the President of the Church know what is correct, in full line with LDS beliefs concerning revelation, including that the Savior's living prophet on earth is the President of the Church.

Snarky replies aside, they won’t. See my comments elsewhere in this thread if you actually care why that’s probably true (right, right: reliance on facts not in evidence, and all that).

Are there Mormons in Québec? I remember being drunk with two Québécois and being instructed on the proper spelling of tabernacle.....just another case of a product name that fails in other languages.

I agree with Tyler. After sniggering at Mormons most of my life, I have come around to viewing them favorably. They seem to be doing the important stuff right. Protestant denominations have all lost their essential distinctions and are converging on a watered down feel good, minimal effort sameness.

It's what they believe "true"? Is what Muslims believe true? And who cares? Are they diverse? Yes, in their lack of diversity, which, in its results is rather interesting. You should always have a control group.

One could do worse than invite the missionaries into one's home and agree to meet with them for a series of six 30-minute talks, and read the Book of Mormon (which I found surprisingly readable). Nope, didn't become a Mormon.

Agree totally. The first time I heard of/met a Mormon was at Airborne school. I thought he was odd because he didn't drink coffee or alcohol.

Now I think the Mormons are a-ok!

"Never trust a man who won't have a drink with you."


Definitely applies to POTUS

Does this mean I can't call them Mormon? I'm tired of all this political correctness.

It's quite likely part of the reason for this shift is the (gently) teasing musical "The Book of Mormon"

I dunno if "gentle" is the right term...

The Book of Mormon is an exception to the name change.

You can still call us Mormons. Definitely not a political correctness thing and I would never correct anyone for using it unless they asked or were genuinely curious . The term is in no way offensive, but I think it was always a less than ideal moniker because it isn't properly descriptive of the church. Its never going to get any easier to change it and our current president is a pretty bold guy.

Don't worry, they'll schism again soon (provided enough folks remain religiously inclined enough for it to matter).

This does seem like a mistake, strictly from a marketing perspective. The attraction of LDS, seemed to me, was that it offered something very different from mainstream Christianity, and had a little bit of an exclusive club feel to it.

OTOH, LDS has always been vulnerable to theological arguments that in reality LDS is no more "Christian" than Islam is. Both Mormonism and Islam are religions that have "improved" upon Christianity, and recognize Christ as an important prophet, but not literally God made flesh. In an American society where having an avowed "Christian" identity seems to be increasingly important to conservatives, and increasingly seen as synonymous with "real American", the LDS leadership may feel they need to tack more to the conservative mainstream.

To my surprise, I've met people who ask themselves if Catholics are "Christians".

The "Christian" identity is something strange that goes beyond religion.

Some people even ask the question as "are you Christian or Catholic?" That's like asking if you like cars or Fords. It also shows Orthodox Christianity doesn't show up on their radar either.

It is not that simple. Catholics workshop idols and the Pope.

The Orthodox are Catholic. They're Orthodox Catholic, not Roman Catholic.

If this was social media would give you +1 million. As an Orthodox Catholic myself this drives annoys me but I quit trying to correct people after all the Great Schism is still here today hence the Roman/Eastern divide which nobody likes to talk about (and TBH I'm not sure how many people realized how that affects geopolitics still; i.e. Serbian war criminals bad, Bosnian and Croat war criminals good)

It's not really that weird. Many Protestants have the instinctive feeling that the outwards character of Catholicism is anathema to Christianity's focus on the Word.

I'm not pro-Catholic or anything but American-style Protestantism is really close to a form of paganism.

Many American Protestants are guilty of the Americanist heresy.

It is weird.

Some of the European migrants to the 13 colonies were fleeing religious conflicts and wars. They could be free on the other side of the Atlantic. Wondering if the Catholics are Christians implies that the collective thinking froze at that time.

Meanwhile in Europe the bloodshed continued until the Peace of Westphalia. The peace treaty recognized that all branches of Christianity had the right to practice their faith. Also, own and manage their territories as desired (sovereignty). Of course, peace was not reached overnight. The treaty of Westphalia was just the starting point of a 50+ years peace process.

The key concept here is "BRANCHES of Christianity". Catholics or Orthodox or any other minority denomination believe different things. However, they are part of the same old Christian tree.

Mormons recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Their theology is decidedly unique and not remotely small "o" orthodox bit they are a Christ centered church.

Adam plays a very large role in Mormon theology, and the Fall does not lead to original sin!

Thank you for the link. That is a very interesting perspective on Adam and Eve.

I thought "Mormon" had a positive brand image.

Well, it certainly improved after this, another quote from the link above - 'Surely one of the greatest divine disclosures came in 1978 when the blessings of the priesthood and temple became available to all worthy male members.' That is, the LDS decided that all the blessings of the priesthood and temple were also available to those with black skin. Odd how long that revelation took to reach the LDS, but that was in age before everyone had a smart phone.

Sunday service is one of the most segregated times in America today.

Given that Mormons seem to wait 10 years behind the Zeitgeist to make sure it sticks this doesn't seem that far off.

Correct. I've never heard of a religious tradition that passes things down by blood line. Such a system has never existed and will never exist.

Mormon definitely has a more positive image in 2019 than it did in 1978, or even 1988. Some of that is due to the church toning down it's weirder rituals and racism. Some of that is probably due to the public profile of people like Mitt Romney. Bizarrely even TV shows like "Big Love" have probably made mainstream Mormonism more acceptable. I also think Mormonism benefits from seeming to combine the more positive traits of Christianity - upright moral behavior, strong family life, old fashioned work ethic - while avoiding the negative taints of evangelical Christianity - hypocritical moral behavior, ignorance, Biblical literalism and choosing Mammon over the message of Christ. Not sure why Mormons would choose to associate their religion with the religion of people like Falwell Jr. and Joel Osteen.

I'm sure there is plenty of hypocrisy in the Mormon church, that doesn't run to true.

It also has the safety valve that anyone that doesn't want to be there usually drops out. There is a high ask price to be Mormon (three hour Sunday service, missions, etc) to the point that if you're lukewarm you don't stay involved.

I don't see how you can claim to LITERALLY BELIEVE the Book of Mormon and not have to be wildly ignorant. It's a loopy book. It seems that most people accept that Mormons don't really believe it...which they mostly seem to accept about most Christians.

I don't see Mormons as less materialistic. And I bet if you dug in real well you would find a lot of corruption as regards church tithes (which is a big pot of money).

I do think the fact that Mormonism = 1950s America is a huge part of the selling point. At least so far Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll have completely passed by the Mormons. Mormons are the "Make America Great Again" era in flesh.

The absurdity of Joseph Smith's founding story is the biggest hurdle Mormons have. They have a book that is even easier to disprove than the Bible or Koran, yet higher IQ adherents. I can see how that is a problem. Catholicism gets around it by invoking lots of Aristotelian work-arounds for the smarter people. Mormons don't seem to have developed an intellectual defense.

Being around a group of people you grew up with, understand, and who understand you is much stronger than whatever intellectual hangups you might have with theology. This applies to every religious upbringing, not just LDS.

Re hypocrisy, it took the anti-caffiene LDS a long time to divest themselves of Pepsi ownership.

They also radically softened their alcohol serving laws in order to win the Olympics hosting deal.

But that's actually small potatoes vs some of the other religions.

I suspect that many who find Mormonism appealing are drawn to the faith's requirement of a lifetime of good works. Is a Christian saved by faith alone or a combination of faith and good works? I also suspect that many secularists view evangelical Protestants' focus on faith alone as the path to salvation as just a convenient excuse to focus on oneself and to avoid good works, a suspicion that to many has been confirmed by the evangelical Protestants' support for the narcissist in chief. Why should a secularist care about this? If we were a nation of Mormons performing good works, would the Democratic presidential candidates be promoting a laundry list of new social welfare programs?

I don't think this faith/works thing is a big deal. I don't know anyone that adheres to "faith alone" that thinks of it as a license to behave badly.

Two points missed: I wasn't suggesting that evangelical Protestants act badly, rather they don't have an incentive to act goodly (at least not the same incentive as those with a religion, such as Mormonism, that requires good works as the price for grace). Moreover, if all Christians were required to do good works, as are Mormons, would it be necessary for the government to provide good works?

"Moreover, if all Christians were required to do good works, as are Mormons, would it be necessary for the government to provide good works?"

Evangelicals are more likely to live in rural areas - and "Less Amenity" rural areas at that, according to this: - than urban. Are you suggesting that people in rural areas or small towns, do good works for themselves in order to reduce their red-state dependence on the federal government? And that if they did, the nanny state would just wither away, urban areas with their relatively smaller number of born-again Protestants [though not of Prosperity Gospel adherents] having no need of it?

Or are you suggesting that the price of heaven is that rural deplorables, in addition to feeding America, need to go in and solve the problems of America's cities by doing good works?

Perhaps you are thinking of Baptists. I remember a few years ago telling my mother, who will unalterably remain a Baptist, albeit a defiantly dancing one, to her dying day despite attending the Presbyterian church these fifty-odd years, that her niece was on a Baptist mission trip. "That doesn't sound like us," she said dubiously. (She was picturing one of those trips where they work on building a school or clinic in Central America, a popular destination for Methodist and Presbyterian kids in her neighborhood. Well, I replied, she's in Haight-Ashbury talking to homeless people about Jesus: "Oh, that makes more sense.")

More than a hundred counties in my state lost population in the last decade. Those counties are home to an awful lot of little churches. Probably more Church of Christ than Baptist, if you looked into it, but plenty of every stripe. (I remember one Sunday in a little Baptist church, so little it didn't even have an organist; a scratchy recording accompanied the hymns. As you walked out of the service, there was a little sign they changed from week to week: Attendance last Sunday: 26. Attendance today: 19. Collection last Sunday: $13.73. Offering today: $23.31.)

I hope they don't need to have a lot of coin to do those good works you want them to do.

The problem is: the other major Christian groups reject the LDS position that they are Christian. Just because the LDS says they are Christian doesn’t mean they are. Personally I like the LDS, it is one of the best “modern religions” (along with the Sikhs, in my opinion). But when 99% of of the members of the group you claim to be part of - reject your claims of membership (for very good reasons), I think you have to accept the majority opinion.

According to this website, the Mormon leadership no longer believe in their founding documents and are trying to dial back to Protestant Christianity.

I'd say it's even money whether Muhammad the communitarian merchant, transported to this moment, would choose the madrassa or the orderly Mormon town.

Fascinating comments thread. All your opinions read very differently, depending on whether you are an outsider opining about what you may have seen from a few mormons you've met, or if you are someone born and raised in Utah during the peak of its dominance in local affairs.

In general, I would say that mormons are incredibly more conservative than most outsiders realize, and with that conservatism comes all of the same problems that we see in all highly conservative religions. Thus, one can expect mormon behavior to be more similar to the behavior of Muslims or Mennonites than to other Protestants and Catholics.

Frankly, I think that evangelical Christianity should follow the Mormon's lead and rethink how to deal with the silly ancient magical creation myth stuff, while retaining the rest of the package.

And you need to understand that they are losing Salt Lake City to non-Morman migrants, and need to deal with that.

FWIW. Mormon towns are infamous for being tough to establish businesses in. Because they will trade with each other and blackball the rest.

The Mormons I know are uniformly pleasant, peaceful, and non-evangelical. And many of the the women I've met all seem pretty darn hungry, if you get my drift.

However they have broken their long-standing relationship with the Boy Scouts, and are starting thier own scouting type thing, which is attributed mainly to the BSoA softening their stance on homesexuality etc.

They've always had a parallel set of youth groups that did Scout-like activities like camping and so forth (Young Men and Young Women's), so I'm not surprised they decided it wasn't too difficult to leave the Scouts once the BSA opened up to girls and gay kids and scoutmasters.

Word choice is important.

It is, we believe, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It isn't my church or your church, it is His church. So to say LDS Church is inaccurate. To say "Mormon" Church is inaccurate. Mormon was a prophet and it is not his church, it is The Church of Jesus Christ.

This was roughly understood for a long, long time, but not taken seriously. Now we are (finally) trying to take it seriously.

I don't think it's going to stick, even with Nelson's push. "Church of Jesus Christ" is just too generic - even LDS is kind of a cipher to people at first glance. And once they figure it out, they're going to be like "Oh, you're Mormons!".

As you said, we are indexed to the word "Mormon" for sure. We'll see whether or not it sticks.

Either way, it'll take a long time. Kind of difficult to make a change like that just a couple of years after the "I am a Mormon" campaign.

I think it makes sense since, when I first came to know a Mormon well, I wasn't quite sure how Jesus figured into their beliefs. This move makes it clearer that they are Christians.

A long time ago, I had a Mormon friend who sheepishly asked me if two members of the church could come and see me. I said fine, as he was a very close friend. The meeting was moving and I received a Book of Mormon with my name on it, which I still have. I didn't become a Mormon, but I did admire their communal commitment.

Later, I met Terry Tempest Williams when she read at my bookstore, and thought it was very cool that her father had come along on the tour to help her overcome her nervousness. The book was "Refuge", and I still recommend it.

Actual Latter Day Saint here, converted just two years ago. Most of the posts in this thread misrepresent the truth of the true Church.

Jesus said, "You will know my true disciples by their love". So please hang out with Latter Day Saints for awhile to understand they are the most others oriented group of people in the world and therefore the truest disciples of Jesus.

And the great news is that you can join! Earn an income about 10% higher than average. Live (for males) about 8 years longer than average! Witness the actual God of the universe come alive in your everyday life! Receive personal revelation from God on your own life choices!

Now this may sound too good to be true, and I resisted joining for many years. Now in the true Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints, I testify that all of the blessings of God are waiting for you.

Latter Day Saints are slowly taking over the world. They are way over-represented in the top echelons of business, academia, and government. This trend is unstoppable as it is the very will of God.

If you want to seriously study this, study BYU in Provo. My former career took me to college campuses across the US and I never saw anything like BYU before first visiting last year. And investigate the entrepreneurial activity in Utah. The Latter Day Saint century is now underway.

You had me for a moment, until you said you were taking over the world.

Then I had a Nauvoo moment instead.

Doesn't the 10% higher income just get tithed away and you end up in the same place? And is 8 extra years without caffeine, alcohol, or marijuana really living?

To live through, with, and in Jesus Christ is the only way to truly live. And it's an eternal life, and can begin today, for all willing to come unto Christ.

Buddy, I genuinely wish I could believe you. I would be a much happier person. But I can't fake it.

"Fake it til you make it" appears to me as a true proverb when it comes to following Jesus. I had seasons of depression in my life, as I was focused solely on myself. After many years and episodes I finally figured out that a simple shift of focus to serving others, immediately, took away depression and brought about the often immediate blessings of God, making me and those around me much happier

“Join us and we will give you money and power beyond your wildest dreams” is typically the other guy’s sales pitch. Maybe wait another couple of years before you try your hand at proselytizing.

Latter Day Saints are slowly taking over the world. They are way over-represented in the top echelons of business, academia, and government. This trend is unstoppable as it is the very will of God.

Not so much the rank-and-file, though, where the Church is struggling to keep active membership. There are a lot of people on the member rolls who aren't really members anymore, but don't bother to actually ask the church to take their names off the member roll. Even in Utah, where there are dense wards and stakes, the active membership rate is only about two-thirds at best.

Speaking of which . . .

If you want to seriously study this, study BYU in Provo. My former career took me to college campuses across the US and I never saw anything like BYU before first visiting last year. And investigate the entrepreneurial activity in Utah.

I figured you were a Utah convert.

You have figured wrong.

Several years ago a reasonably large Baptist church near me in metro Atlanta started downplaying the world Baptist from its signage. Now it's completely gone. Their URL similarly changed to something not including Baptist. Visiting their website, you don't see the word anymore.

It wasn't like some old Baptist churches that dried up and were taken over my another group, they intentionally slowly morphed into something else.

I'm not religious and I was never a big fan of Baptists, but it's still a little unsettling in a way.

A church is no different from a soda company, except that the product is more addictive.

Not often the comments section is more insightful than the article. Goes to show you the audience of Marginal Revolution. As a practicing Mormon in CA, you guys are about 75% accurate in your comments. For a "comments" section (usually full of crazy people) that is pretty good. Synopsis of how I read the comments: we are nice people who try earnestly to live our religion, but must be naive or not that intelligent. Yeah, maybe that is what I see when I look in the mirror.

Oh and to the new convert, Trey, welcome my friend. I hope you enjoy the ride. But I have been a member my whole life, and I had never heard we wan't to try to take over the world. I had no idea. That is so sweet!! I can't wait. :)

Thanks, Chad. The take over the world idea comes from a secular study by two Yale law professors that shows how over-represented we are in the top ranks of various institutions. Other groups are also over-achievers (Jews, Asians, Cubans) but the Latter Day Saints anyone can easily join.

Oh, OK. I thought you were saying like we teach this, which shocked me a bit. As you know that is the antithesis to what our church is all about.

Yup we are a unique culture for sure, but power, money, fame, etc. are not things of importance.........well......hmmmm. I would love to have a few billion to test the theory.🤔

Chad, I have been given billions and tested the theory. Did not Satan offer the whole world to Jesus before He chose the Way of the cross? Search Internet Identity Workshop and my name and you can see that God gave me an idea for something way bigger than Facebook or Google. But to pursue that might cause me to miss a single soul put in my path with whom to share the Gospel.

So instead, I testify that God takes care of all of my needs and I live a life of awe and wonder, in His presence and presents. For the riches He gives me are given by me to the world. To see a wonderful testimony of this principle in a good new movie, go see "Yesterday".

Trey, how can I put this gently?

As a middle-aged member of the Church, who has now spent over half of my life as a member (and this would be the second half, not the first, as is sadly true for too many of our youth), I want to suggest to you as kindly as I am able to . . .

. . . your communication in this forum on behalf of the Church is coming across a little sketchy.

I agree with Chad’s comment above, that perhaps 75% of the comments here are pretty accurate. That’s remarkable, really.

I feel your comments though, while close to the mark, fall more in the 25% than the 75%.

Welcome to the fold. You have a lot to learn, brother.

As do we all.

You know not to whom you write Brother Humphrey. If you have a problem with what another does, the command of scripture is that you bring the issue to that person first, in private. I post under my unique name in all the world so I am easy to contact. Perhaps there is no kindness in public criticism ever?

I joined the church at an older age after years of leadership positions in large ministries. I speak differently than most Saints as the road I have traveled is much different.

And different is good. As, by following the Spirit, I know that I have helped raised the awareness of Jesus Christ and His Church among numerous groups, including the readers here, who at first may be more interested in the temporal benefits of following our Savior over the spiritual.

So in the words of Jesus, "judge not..."

I’m just a common member, Trey. I don’t claim to speak for the Church. You should be more clear in your writings that you don't either, lest you misrepresent our beliefs to the people here you claim to help.

I do not claim to speak for the Church. Russell M. Nelson, whom I had the privilege to be face to face with the other day, is the one who does that.

I am also a common member. And, by our prophets and revelation, we know that each of us is given revelation to reach out and share the restored Gospel to those with whom we have in our own spheres of influence.

My particular blessing, due to years and years among other Christian groups and attending some elite schools, is to know a whole lot of people who have grown into leadership positions in a whole lot of different spheres of life.

What I write here is inspired by my decades now of reading this blog. Some of the closest followers of Jesus I know began to follow for the "wrong" reasons, such as a TV preacher's promise of riches. Please know that God uses all things for good... as is promised in Romans 8:28.

When we take ourselves out of the judgement seat we can be in the presence of He who does sit on the throne, and live in awe and wonder of His power and wisdom.

Great, Trey. I too have read MR daily and commented occasionally since it was first formed. If I understand the zeitgeist of the typical readers here, they will have been informed by having seen our dialogue.

So, well-done, sir. I wish you well.

You know, as a certainly less-relevant aside, I’m compelled to second your referral to the “Yesterday” movie. (I wish I’d noticed your praise for it when I first replied, Trey; please forgive my inattentiveness.)

I completely concur. I saw “Yesterday” today, with my guitar-playing youngest son, freshly returned from his mission. Many of my young grandchildren can sing several complete Beetles songs, and none better than the four-year-old. So to say the Fab Four inform my music is quite an understatement.

I expected to like this movie, and I hoped to love it. It far exceeded my expectations.

No spoilers here, but the “reveal” on the coast left me in tears.

I hope more people ignore the even-mostly-gentle reviews and see it for themselves.

Thank you Stephen. Perhaps you would enjoy watching the Youtube channel of a young man named Kwaku El. He is a BYU student and a great, but not yet perfected, witness of the restored Gospel. We will likely be hearing much of him in the years to come as he endures the onslaught of criticism and trials likely headed his way for speaking so boldly. I just now watched his "I believe in multiple Gods" video and the ending just blew me away.

This seems to be the most concerted effort to rebrand away from "Mormon" but it's hardly the first one. Even when I was still a member (>10 years ago) there were intermittent efforts to encourage people to use the term "Latter Day Saint", and it's the term I use when I want to be precise. The reasoning is that "The Book of Mormon" is a misleading name: according the LDS teachings, Mormon (who was an ancient prophet) compiled the book, but he only wrote a small portion of it. He's no more important in LDS theology than any other prophet, and he's certainly not worshipped. From that perspective, using "Mormon" to refer to the church and its members is inaccurate and borderline blasphemous -- perhaps similar to referring to Catholics as "Johns" in honor of the author of their final book of scripture.

This latest effort may indeed be an attempt to move towards the mainstream of Christianity, but dropping the term "Mormon" has been on the wishlist for a long time for understandable reasons.

Do you think they'll change the Book of Mormon name? They could, but that would be stepping directly on Joseph Smith's legacy given that he published it under that label.

Just one member’s opinion here, but no, I don’t think anyone will change the name of the Book of Mormon.

That name is more accurate than not, given that the Church believes that the man Mormon wrote and compiled parts of it.

Also, to be clear, this modern effort at “rebranding” (as some have called it) is specifically an effort to encourage the use of the Church’s proper, given name, (which is exactly the name which has appeared on its buildings and letterheads for all of our lifetimes) and to discourage the use of its traditional nickname (which historically was first derogatory, then unofficial, and finally official, but always, always, a nickname).

The Book of Mormon remains a cornerstone of the Church, to be sure. However, it is not—and never was—the whole building.

Since MR commenters are usually a curious lot, let me just throw this out for consideration: in my over 34 years in the Church (ranging back-and-forth between mostly inactive to devoutly active), I can’t think of a single discussion or lesson in which Jesus Christ and his life and teachings wouldn’t have dominated by tenfold or twentyfold the lives and messages of any of His prophets, including Moses, Mormon, or Joseph Smith.

Latter Day Saints worship Jesus Christ. We only revere His prophets, we do not deify them.

Thank you for this wonderful clarification, Brother Humphrey.

Lutherans and Calvinists and Swedenborgians don't worship their namesakes either.

They were sort of pushing this years ago, but nobody really took it seriously. It's quite surprising that Nelson is suddenly pushing it hard, but maybe he's feeling like he needs to make his mark and decisions quickly due to age (Nelson is 94 and healthy as such a man can be, but he's still only 3 years younger than Hinckley was when he died, and at that age your health can turn sour quick).

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