what's in a name?

There seems to be new press on my Church published daily. And understandable so, what with (up until recently) two high-profile members vying for the GOP presidential nomination. Some of you may have seen this cover not too long ago...I happened to spot it on the coffee table of a doctor's office waiting room. (I found the image here, her comment on the cover art is good for a chuckle.)

One of the senior execs on my team (who I don't directly assist and happens to be from New Zealand and is very boisterous--just to help paint the picture) plopped himself down in the chair next to me this morning and excitedly said, "I have just found out some wonderful news about you, and that is that you're a Mormon!" He went on to say that one of his clients is Zions Bank, a detail which I knew, and that he probably knows more about our faith than the average person AND that he teaches the high school aged Sunday School class at his church. He gave me a clipping from today's New York Times titled, "Why Evangelicals Don't Like Mormons."

My initial response was, "Well, I already know why they don't like us." After all, I lived in Orange County Calif. where there is an abundance of Evangelical Christians and Colleges and interfaith discussions were a big deal and happened frequently at the sprawling Mariner's church campus. I can predict with absolute certainty how the "conversation" will go, their main points followed by our conclusive rebuttal, followed by the frustration because we use different words to mean the same principles and for the points that we don't agree on (i.e., the trinity and the grace vs. works debate and for the record, no, we do not believe we can "work our way into heaven"), the hand shakes and the storming off in opposite directions. 

Then he asked me if I could get him some material on the basic tenants of the Church to give to his Sunday School class. "Not that any of them are going to convert, my friend at Zions has already tried that on me," he said and I let out a double-edged laugh. On one side for his sake because he was trying to make a joke and on the other side because you just never know! Stranger things have happened.

Anyway, I read the Times' article and found it very interesting. It's an opinion piece, so of course take it (like we take any news article, opinion or not) with a grain of salt. However, when reading the center quote highlighted in the middle of the article it had to zip my mouth shut so that I didn't distract anyone else on the floor. "It's about competition for members, not theology." Right? Because an in depth look at theology really doesn't justify Evangelical hatred of us, does it? (There's got to be some other underlying reason.) In the online version (linked here and above) the author responds to the well-known evangelical assertion that Mormonism "denies the divinity of Christ and is therefore not a branch of Christianity," with his description of what the Mormon believe really is and a links it back to Mormon{dot}org (why EVERY news article doesn't source the information published by the Church itself, I do not know, but I wish they all would!) and our clearly stated and undeniable belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world.

How cunningly and deceptively we are called "Mormons" and our faith referred to as "Mormonism". I even heard a co-worker say "the church of the Mormons" the other day. It's no wonder that people who don't really know can possibly think that we aren't Christian.

This has never bothered me before and I am absolutely in the habit of telling people that I am a Mormon when asked what religion I am and I know that's okay to a degree (click here for the best explanation I have heard/read on the name of the Church). I have long perpetuated the trend that I now wish would stop.

The name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ, not the Mormon church, and definitely not the Church of the Mormons (though that last misrepresentation does kind of make me want to giggle when I hear it). There is a lot of power in a name and I'm committed to do my best to change my habits. It's a mouthful, but it's worth it. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.