SALT LAKE CITY – There was mixed reaction to the edict from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to drop all nicknames and use its full title.
President Russell M. Nelson has touched on the issue before. In 1990, as a Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he gave a general conference talk about how members should refer to the faith.
“Thus, shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," said Nelson.
Fast forward 28 years later, and the now-president is stressing the full title – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I did this because the Lord impressed upon my mind the importance of the name. He decreed for his church,” said Nelson.
Nelson told church members during Sunday’s General Conference, “It is not a name change. It is not rebranding. Instead, it is a correction. It is the command of the Lord."
He went on to say using the nicknames “LDS” or “Mormon” and “to remove the Lord’s name is a major victory for Satan.”
Dr. David Scott, a professor of Communication, Religion & Media at Utah Valley University says the blogosphere has erupted since Nelson explained his reasoning.
Scott says church history shows the term, “Mormon,” is neutral and not meant to be disrespectful.
“Joseph Smith actually said that the word Mormon in reference to the Book of Mormon prophet that the term Mormon means 'more good',” said Scott.
The church promoted the term, “Mormon” for years – using it in ads, billboards and a documentary called, "Meet the Mormons."
“The term Mormonism has been used over 15,000 times in General Conference talks as far as we have a record,” said Scott.
Brenda Sibley, a member from Arizona, who attended General Conference with her family, says they’ll follow the prophet's counsel.
“I didn’t have a problem with it from the beginning, but it was nice to know where he was coming from on that. I had never thought about offending the Savior by not using the full name of the church," Sibley said.
She admits conforming won’t be easy for all members.
“It’s okay to say, 'I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,' even if it takes 10 minutes," she said.
Scott doesn’t doubt President Nelson believes God inspired him to do this. But says detractors are quick to judge, saying the church should deal with more pressing social issues than a “name correction.”
“I just don’t think that people who are younger take it as seriously perhaps as President Nelson does. They just don’t think it’s that important," Scott said.