Church urges followers to drop the Mormon name

Washington (AFP) –


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is urging its followers to drop the use of the word "Mormon" to refer to the church or its members, according to new directives issued by its leader.

A new church style guide suggests the religion be referred to on second reference as "the Church of Jesus Christ" or simply "the Church," insisting that the "Mormon Church" -- though long in common usage -- "is not an authorized title, and the Church discourages its use."

Church president Russell Nelson, who has been visiting congregations in North America to explain the move, said Saturday in Montreal: "we're not changing names. We're correcting a name."

"The Book of Mormon" is the religion's sacred text, and the name Mormon has been used to identify the church since it was established in 1830, although initially by outsiders as a derogatory term.

Nelson, 93, said the decision on the proper terminology was revealed to him by God. "The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name he has revealed for his Church," he said in a statement.

The church claims to have 16 million members and has set as its mission the re-establishment of the true church to prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

It considers the "Book of Mormon," revealed to church founder Joseph Smith, to be the "restored" word of Jesus Christ.