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By Emily Geddes
According to some scholars, the term “Christian” was originally used as an epithet by detractors of the new faith before being adopted by followers of Christ. Similarly, the term “Mormon” was first used by antagonists of the church shortly after it was formed in 1830 in reference to “The Book of Mormon,” since that was (and still is) a distinctive difference between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other Christian faiths. Over the years, members of the church reclaimed the term for themselves in positive ways (for example, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) and the pejorative connotation decreased.
Church leaders have repeatedly emphasized the full name of the church and asked members to identify themselves as members of “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” rather than as members of the “Mormon Church” to clarify that we are Christians and followers of Christ. I’ve found that many people don’t realize that the “Mormon Church” and “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” are the same church, so I’ll often use both terms in conversations for clarity’s sake.