PILAR: Although Juliet opined that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” Anne of Green Gables disagreed and memorably said, “I don’t think a rose would be as nice if it were called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.” I’m not sure which character I agree with more, because they both make valid points.
This week, Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church, announced that the Lord “has impressed upon my mind” that God doesn’t like the use of the word “Mormon” for this, that, and the other thing. No more Mormon or LDS Church. Strictly The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, unless you use the so-called shorthand “restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”
This name change is an interesting issue. Why should people care? Why waste millions on trying to change something as recognizable as the term “Mormon” and replace it with a really clumsy, long phrase that creates an awkward nickname? “Saints” isn’t something I want to refer to ourselves as, and “members of the Church of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ” doesn’t roll off the tongue very easily. It’s going to be difficult for “The Church” to get members to switch from a short, well-known, well-branded term to the longer, inconvenient phrase over a short, well-known, well-branded term. Back in the 90’s when asked to make the switch, I tried it and quickly realized it wasn’t going to become a habit. Reminds me of when I tried menudo as a kid and I realized that those tough, spongy chunks of cow intestine and I weren’t destined to be long term friends.
Sister Sheri L. Dew is quoted as saying “Surely if we want anybody else to get the name of the Church right, we better start by getting the name of the Church right — and some of the problems with some of the nicknames that we have all used and fallen into is that they cut out the name of Jesus Christ.”
Really? The problem is we’ve cut out the name of Jesus, Sheri? Agree to disagree. The problem is that we, as a church, have cut out Jesus the person. After all, our most comprehensive rule book is named “Church Handbook 1” and has almost nothing to do with Jesus. The handbook is referred to a CH1, an abbreviation, although there is nothing abbreviated about this book. CH1 contains heaps and oodles and masses and bags aplenty of rules and laws and policies and well… basically, Mormon Commandments. None of which I, as a woman, can access.
Odd. Jesus himself is quoted simply saying “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Yet, Mormons have literally written a large book revealing our arrogance. We pushed His commandment aside and replaced it with thousands of rules because…we think we know better. We knew that “love one another” is not enough information to choose birth control, decide which surgeries and medical procedures are allowed or not, and certainly doesn’t give people enough information to know what kind of underpants to wear or how to report your monthly ministerial duties. We need these rules, clearly.
“The Church” claims the right to decide who exists and who doesn’t (homosexual people famously don’t exist according to Elder Bednar, only children of God) as well as the right to dictate which meetings the “members of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ” are allowed to attend. Male leaders are allowed to attend Relief Society but a transitioning male to female transwoman is not. Male leadership also wants to dictate the right to decide which parts of their bodies members are allowed to alter. A transwoman may not have top surgery, but an Apostle’s wife can have a breast augmentation.
And speaking of transgender people, at the same time The Church is asking us to respect its preferred names and terms–because such respect is very important–it disregards the preferred terms of the Mormon transgender community.
I agree with President Nelson when he said, “We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will.” Yep, we sure as heck do, and I would suggest that step #1 would be to quit being such damn hypocrites and give every Mormon the same respect the Church is asking for.
Back to my original question. Why should people care?
I want to share why I, personally, care about this. I love the phrasing of D&C 121:1. It has long been a personal cry to God, a plea to hear His voice, to feel Him near me. “O God, where are thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?” These are the words that prefaced my cries to God when I lost my first child, Jaime. When I struggled with having been molested and depressed, coping and alone as a teen, I begged God to listen and ease my pain.
When I was being abused by my spouse and felt too terrified to cry or pray aloud, I still silently conversed with my Father. And I know right now, I am not alone in my cries to God. My sisters are crying. I hear the pleas of my LGBTQIA siblings, wanting to be seen and heard by a church that continues to pretend they are invisible. I have seen the tears of my black and Latinx siblings as they are marginalized and hurt. I’ve seen the stories from #mormonmetoo and #protectldschildren and felt their pain. Zion is broken and weeping. I know God hears our prayers, our pain, and our sobbing. He hears our silent petitions. Its been impressed upon my mind.
He knows our heartbreak. It’s been impressed upon my heart.
When will the “Church of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ” hear and acknowledge these things instead of turning a blind eye and deaf ear? When will it be impressed enough upon the mind of the president of the Church?
As I look around and witness the pain and suffering of so many members of the Church, I have to ask: What are we doing with the name of Jesus Christ?
Sisters Quorum exists to give voice to those who are not being heard and is seeking submissions. If you have a story to tell, SQ invites you to visit our submission page for guidelines.