In 2018, the leader of the ‘Mormon Church’ declared that we should stop calling them ‘Mormons’ and instructed his members and the press to refer to his church by the official name only:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
From the New York Times:
The word “Mormon” is out, says the president of the Utah-based church. But the proper term for what to call the faith and its followers is a mouthful.
… President Russell M. Nelson insisted that Mormons and non-Mormons alike stick to the term “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Mr. Nelson, 93, said that the policy change came to him in a revelation from God and that members of the church must work to adjust their vernacular. …
The church’s updated style guide specifies that “Mormon Church,” “Mormons” and “Mormonism” are no longer acceptable. And no, you should not use the abbreviation “L.D.S.,” either.
Response: Every group or organization has the right to name themselves. However, the chances that this religious group will no longer be called ‘Mormons’ is somewhere between slim and none and far closer to no way.
I perceive that even members of this church will have some difficulty not using the nickname, L.D.S or Latter-day Saint, which was also outlawed by their leader. I can’t even begin to count all of the cars I have followed over the years with a ‘LDS’ bumper sticker or in the back window. Also I have noticed that among the Mormon acquaintances I do have, most have referred to other members of their church as LDS. I can’t imagine them saying- oh, he’s a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also. A real mouthful to say the least.
On the other hand, if members of this church revert to calling themselves members of ‘The Church’ instead of ‘LDS’ or ‘Mormons’ it could potentially be offensive to others on the outside. Historically Mormons have claimed to be ‘The’ Church of Jesus Christ and all others false in some way which was the reason given for its organization in the first place.
A little bit of history is in order. The original name of the Mormon church when it was organized in 1830 was- ‘Church of Christ.’ A few years later they became known as the Church of Jesus Christ and then the ‘Church of Latter Day Saints.’ Finally, in 1838 the official name became ‘the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ which it still is today.
Meanwhile those outside of the church began to call them ‘Mormons’ after the Book of Mormon which is part of the scriptural canon of the LDS and differentiates them from the majority of religious groups in America which accepts only the Bible. The term was descriptive and sometime used in pejorative way. Nevertheless, its usage became dominant in reference to this religious group. So much so that even members of the LDS church finally became comfortable enough with it to use it themselves: Mormon Trail, Mormon History, and in the (now former)“I’m a Mormon” series.
Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic and Episcopalian- all nick names used in America for different religious groups instead of the official church names along with more general terms like Evangelical, Charismatic, and Pentecostal. After 188 years the name ‘Mormon’ and ‘Mormon Church’ has become part of the American language, culture, and history and it will continue to be used far more than the official name regardless of the recent declaration.
Nearly Five years have come and gone since that declaration in 2018. Nevertheless, ‘Mormon’ and ‘Mormon Church’ are still the designations of choice for those of us who are not part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
For LDS members, I am sure that they have tried to do their best obeying their leader in pushing against the tide of traditional cultural usage of the ‘outlawed’ nickname. They might have succeeded internally but I perceive that it is a lost cause to expect the rest of us to obey the declaration of their prophet.