Monday, February 5, 2007

Claims for exclusivity

By the 1970s, "Mormon" had become so common that the LDS Church began to use the term in its radio and television Public Service Announcements which ended: "A message from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: the Mormons." More recently the organization has asked the media to use the church's complete name and to follow any second reference with the name "The Church of Jesus Christ."

Claims for exclusivity of usage are primarily to avoid confusion between the LDS Church and "Mormon Fundamentalist" groups. LDS Church officials state that referring to organizations or groups outside of the LDS Church (especially those that practice plural marriage) as "Mormon," "Mormon fundamentalist," or "Mormon dissident" is a misunderstanding of Mormon theology, in particular the principles of continuous revelation and Priesthood authority. In 2006, the current president of the LDS Church, Gordon B. Hinckley, said:

"I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatsoever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church. Most of them have never been members. They are in violation of the civil law . . . If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church."

Sometimes Restorationist or Restoration Movement are used as umbrella terms for those derived from the Campbellites or Stone-Campbell churches, for example, the Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ. Mormons, however, are not a break-off group of the Campbellites. While they share some beliefs, such as the idea of a restoration, they differ in their beliefs about it. Most importantly, Mormons believe that the Restoration in question has already happened: The original church of Jesus Christ, known as the primitive church by historians, is believed by adherents to have been restored through Joseph Smith, the first Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are some general similarities to Campbellite teachings, and many of Mormonism's first adherents (including Sidney Rigdon) were previously Campbellites. But the Book of Mormon, the book of Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price separate Mormon doctrine from any other Restorationist faiths.