For months, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been urging the media to stop using “Mormon” and “LDS” as shortened references for the faith and its members.
Now, the world’s largest arbiter of journalistic style is listening and heeding — to a point.
The Associated Press Stylebook announced Friday that it is adjusting its guidelines for writing about the Utah-based church.
“Use the full name of the church on first references, with ‘the church,’ ‘church members,’ ‘members of the faith’ preferred on second and later reference[s],” advises the wire service’s online style edition.
We are changing our style on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church in 2018 began moving away from the widely recognized terms Mormon church and LDS church, and now prefers that its full name be used and that members be referred to as Latter-day Saints. (1/4)— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) March 8, 2019
The church, in a push led by its president, Russell M. Nelson, also prefers “Latter-day Saints” when referring to its adherents.
“We ask that the term ‘Mormons’ not be used,” the denomination’s own style guide states. For second reference, it calls for writing “the Church” or the “Church of Jesus Christ." The “restored Church of Jesus Christ” is also accurate.
AP’s new entry, however, does not suggest the “Church of Jesus Christ" or the “restored Church of Jesus Christ" on subsequent references. It also still allows for the use of “Mormons” and “Mormon” when “necessary for space or clarity or in quotations or proper names.”
The Salt Lake Tribune put in place similar style standards several months ago.
The church’s own recommendations note that “Mormon” is correctly used in proper names such as the Book of Mormon, the faith’s foundational scripture, and as an adjective in historical expressions such as the “Mormon Trail.”
Otherwise, the church has been busy adopting new monikers and adapting old ones to meet Nelson’s call — a challenging process he has acknowledged will take time.
Earlier this week, for instance, the faith unveiled a new web address, shifting from LDS.org to ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Last fall, it changed the name of the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir to “The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.”
The goal, Nelson insists, is to increase the focus on Jesus not only in press portrayals but also in members’ minds and hearts.
“Every day we should ask ourselves, ‘How can we better live as Jesus Christ taught and lived?’” the 94-year-old leader has said. “This mindset will help fill our lives, our homes, our neighborhoods, and our churches with more of Christ’s light and power.”