Mormon Studies Panel Discussion


This is a piece of word art depicting many of the common names for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The art lists the following names and nicknames: Community of Christ, RLDS, Church of Christ (Temple Lot), Meet the Mormons, Church of God, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Book of Mormon, Apostolic United Brethren, Zion’s Order, Church of Christ, Mormonite, Mormon, Latter-day Saint, Christian, Restorationism, Hedrickite, FLDS, Saint, Strangite, Fundamentalist, Remnant Fellowships, Godbeites, Bickertonite, Brighamites, and I am a Mormon. The word art is comprised of white text on an orange background. The piece is unattributed.

What’s in a Name?
‘Mormons,’ ‘Latter-day Saints’ and the
Politics of Self-identity

Wednesday, November 14th
12:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.
UVU Fulton Library Lecture Hall (FL-120)

Panel Video


Peggy Fletcher Stack
Religion Writer
Salt Lake Tribune

Hal Boyd
Special Assistant to the Managing Director, Public Affairs Department
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 

Loyd Isao Ericson
Managing Editor
Greg Kofford Books

Brian D. Birch (moderator)
Director, Religious Studies Program
Utah Valley University

Panelist Bios

In the most recent General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson directed church members to avoid using the term “Mormon.” Though the church has long encouraged use of its official name, this directive is a significant “course correction” for an institution that has both utilized and eschewed its long-standing nickname. With its recent ad campaign entitled “I’m a Mormon” and the feature film “Meet the Mormons,” the church faces a challenge in distancing itself from its own successful branding efforts. These developments raise challenging questions for academics, publishers, and journalists who write, reflect, and report on the church. This panel will engage these issues with the aim of cultivating probing and productive dialogue.

Selected Media and Readings

Style Guide: The Name of the Church
Newsroom, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, August 16, 2018

The Correct Name of the Church
President Russell M. Nelson, October 7, 2018, General Conference, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Thus Shall My Church Be Called
Elder Russell M. Nelson, March 31, 1990, General Conference, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Nelson Discusses the Name of the Church
Newsroom, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, August 21, 2018

LDS Church wants everyone to stop calling it the LDS Church and drop the word ‘Mormons’ — but some members doubt it will happen
Peggy Fletcher-Stack, Salt Lake Tribune, August 16, 2018

Members ‘offend’ Jesus and please the devil when they use the term ‘Mormon,’ President Nelson says
Peggy Fletcher-Stack, Salt Lake Tribune, October 7, 2018

The Name 'Mormon': Why all the fuss and why now? 
Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood, October 20, 2018 

Mormons don't want you calling them Mormons anymore
Doug Criss, CNN, August 17, 2018 

What's the big deal about the 'Mormon' name change?
John Louis Metzger & John Morehead, Patheos, August 28, 2018 

'Mormon is Out: Church Releases Statement on How to Refer to the OrganizationSarah Jane Weaver, Church News August 16, 2018

A Church By Any Other Name
Doug Fabrizio, Radio West, KUER Radio (podcast)

LDS or Mormon? It Depends
Scott Taylor, April 2, 2011, Deseret News

Panelist Bios

Hal Boyd

Hal Robert Boyd currently serves in the Public Affairs Department for The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints where he is the Special Assistant to the Managing Director. He is also a Fellow at the Wheatley Institution at Brigham Young University and previously served as Opinion Editor for the Deseret News. His publications include Psalms of Nauvoo, Are Christians Mormon?, College for the Commonwealth: A Case for Higher Education in American Democracy, and numerous articles and editorials, including the recent essay “The Ignorance of Mocking Mormonism” for The Atlantic.

Peggy Fletcher Stack

Peggy Fletcher-Stack is a religion writer for the Salt Lake Tribune where she has reported for 27 years and launched its award-winning Faith section. She has served on the executive board of the Religion News Association and was a founding member of the International Association of Religion Journalists. Earlier this year, she became a third-time winner of the prestigious Cornell Award for the best religion reporting at midsized papers. In 2013, Stack received the American Academy of Religion’s top award for religion writing; and she contributed to the the Salt Lake Tribune’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into sexual assaults on Utah college campuses.

Loyd Isao Ericson

Loyd Isao Ericson graduated from Utah Valley University and pursued graduate studies in philosophy of religion and theology at Claremont Graduate University. Since 2009, he has served as Managing Editor for Greg Kofford Books. He is co-editor for the series Perspectives on Mormon Theology and a co-editor of Discourses in Mormon Theology: Philosophical and Theological Possibilities and Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics. He has been published in Sunstone, Element: The Journal of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology, and the Claremont Journal of Mormon Studies.

Brian D. Birch

Brian D. Birch is the director of the Religious Studies Program at Utah Valley University, where he teaches philosophy of religion, ethics, and Mormon Studies. He is the founding editor of Element: The Journal of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology and co-editor of the Perspectives on Mormon Theology series. His most recent publications include The Expanded Canon: Perspectives on Mormonism and Sacred Texts and “A Portion of God’s Light: Mormonism and Religious Pluralism” for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.