On the Proper Use of the M-Word

Steve Cuno

I live in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. As some of you may be aware, more than a few Mormons live here, too. Thanks to this unique religious demographic—

Oops. My bad.

I meant to say that more than a few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints live here. These days I try to avoid use of the M-word, because Russell M. Nelson, prophet of the Mormon Church—

Oops.

… because Russell M. Nelson, prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, asked everyone to stop calling The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “the M-word Church” and instead to use the church’s full, official name, which, in case you missed it, is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” He explained that substituting “the M-word Church” for “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is a no-no because it “expunges the sacred name of Jesus Christ” from “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” and that constitutes a “major victory for Satan.”

Nelson emphasized that this is not a name change but a “course correction.” True enough. “M-word Church” was never the church’s actual name. It’s a nickname, taken from the Book of Mormon, which Mormons—

Crap.

… which members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regard as scripture. As for “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Jesus himself dictated it to Joseph Smith, the church’s founding prophet, back in 1838. But the thing was, the church had already been around for eight freaking years. Needing something to call it in the meantime, outsiders nicknamed it “the M-word Church.” It caught on in a big way. By the time Jesus unveiled the official, nine-word moniker, there was no shaking the nickname.

Even members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began defaulting to the mercifully lesser mouthful. So did the church’s top brass. They started slapping the M-word on press releases, promotional literature, audio-visual materials, businesses, and historic landmarks. They used it in sermons. They tried, unsuccessfully, to register it as a trademark. They released an ad campaign in which uncommonly attractive, accomplished church members humbly showcased their superiority before delivering the zinger, “I’m a M-word.” They produced a feature-length film called Meet the M-words. Not long after, they produced a series of Meet the M-words shorts. Films, not pants.

I’m sure that with hindsight, Jesus wishes he’d named the one true church sooner. But then, one can hardly blame him for taking his time. The part about “the one true church” in the expression “the one true church” rather implies that there’s only one true church. If he’d rushed, he might have settled on a lesser-quality name. It wasn’t like he could shrug it off and say, “Oh well. There are plenty more one true churches where that one came from.”

But now, God has told the prophet Nelson that it’s time to leave behind the Nickname Era and step into the Official Name Era. Henceforth, all utterances of the M-word that are not specific references to the Book of Mormon are verboten.

Falling in line has not been without its challenges. Take, for instance, the world-famous M-word Tabernacle Choir. Perhaps aware that the “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Tabernacle Choir” doesn’t so much roll as stagger off the tongue, the church’s branding pros came up with “The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square,” which Nelson promptly approved. I bet the branding pros are praying that no one calls to his attention the fact that Jesus’s name is still expunged. In any case, I look forward to The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square’s next world tour, which will doubtless be called the The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, Which at the Moment for Purposes of Touring Is Actually Away from Temple Square, World Tour.

Also kaput is “LDS,” once short for “Latter-day Saints.” Given the number of church-owned enterprises such as LDS Business College and LDS Family Services, a lot of signs on building exteriors will need replacing. Sign companies, submit your bids. Tip: If The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’s purchasing department asks if you’re a member, you’ll have a better shot if you answer in the affirmative. But for godsakes don’t slip up and say “I’m a M-word.”

If you’d like to know more about the correct use of the church’s name, you can visit, ironically, MormonNewsroom.org. But not for long. Soon it will be Newsroom.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

One less victory for Satan.

I hope this brief digression has cleared up any confusion.

Now, back to what I was saying.

I live in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. As some of you may be aware, more than a few—and I want to be clear on this—members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints live here, too. Thanks to this unique religious demographic—

Dammit.

I can’t remember what I set out to write.

Steve Cuno

A veteran marketing writer, Steve Cuno has authored three books and written articles for Skeptical Inquirer, BookBusiness, Deliver, and other periodicals. In his spare time, Steve enjoys playing his piano and forcing people to look at photos of his grandchildren.