Before I poke fun at [The People Who No Longer Call Themselves Mormons], let me take a moment to say how much I admire them.
I’ve spent plenty of time with [Don’t Call Us Mormons!] and, by and large, they are an admirable lot. I’ve voted for a [I’m Not a Mormon!] twice, once for governor and once for president, and I’d do it again. Yes, the [It’s Not Called Mormon!] religion is socially conservative, but many hierarchical churches are.
Now for the fun-poking.
Last month, church president Russell M. Nelson, who also bears the titles of Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, announced a divine revelation: Stop calling us [You Know What]. “The Lord said the name of the church shall be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, period” he said, “and that’s not negotiable.”
“We revere [NAME DELETED], we honor [This Space Intentionally left Blank] — what a great man, what a great prophet,” Nelson continued. [He Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken] was a fourth-century Nephite warrior and prophet whose exploits are hailed in the “Book of [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, period],” which bears his name.
[Call me Ralph] recorded the ancient history of the Latter-day Saints’ church, which founder Joseph Smith translated from golden plates that he unearthed in upstate New York. Trust me, it’s all very complicated.
Because the church’s most sacred book was named after [Is This Joke Getting Tired?], nonbelievers assumed the religion was named after him, too.
It did not go unnoticed that Nelson’s revelation was announced to the world at the website mormonnewsroom.org.
Many [No, I Don’t Think So] find this proclamation to be ridiculous. This is the third time since 1990 that church nabobs have tried to clean up this usage, and it is yet again doomed to failure. Back in 2011, the church financed a multimillion dollar “I’m a [Whatchamacallit’]” ad campaign in 21 US cities, profiling a Rainbow Coalition of diverse cool cats, e.g. a surfer and a fashion designer, to counter the stereotype of [That Name Again] as a bunch of lily-white fuddy-duddies.
Realistically, what other names are out there? The Saints sometimes call themselves “A Peculiar People” (“A compliment of the highest order” — Russell Nelson). But — “The Peculiars”? I don’t think so. The famous [Nonono] Tabernacle Choir, a wag has suggested, could be rechristened “The Polygatones,” in homage to founder Smith’s divinely revealed — and since abandoned — doctrine of taking many wives.
But again — no.
I came up with “Neo-Plate-onists,” referring to the famous golden plates, and the clunky “People Who Don’t Drink But Are Far Less Objectionable Than Donald Trump,” a famous teetotaler. Nah.
Joseph Smith had 50 followers when he started his church in 1830, and now there are 16 million Mormons around the world. I think the name has worked out just fine.Alex Beam’s column appears regularly in the Globe. He is the author of “American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church.” Follow him on Twitter @imalexbeamyrnot.