Last month, the LDS Living staff was discussing whether to write a story about the swarms of Mormons crickets that were then plaguing parts of Nevada and Idaho. Many Church members, when they hear about modern hordes of grasshoppers, can’t help but recall the stories of the early pioneers who were saved from crickets just in time by devouring seagulls, now the Utah state bird.
But in our discussion, the question was asked, “Can we use the term Mormon cricket?” After all, LDS Living’s style guide says to avoid using the term Mormon. Should we now be saying “Latter-day Saint crickets?”
And we suspect we’re not the only ones. There are likely other members of the Church who are asking similar questions—and who might find it helpful to explore whether there are times when it’s appropriate to use Mormon, especially in light of President Nelson’s direction in the past few years.
At the same time, the Church Newsroom released new guidelines for referring to the Church, reflecting this call to largely abandon the term Mormon. But part of those guidelines mention two specific contexts in which it is appropriate to use the term Mormon, and these give LDS Living the direction we follow on Mormon crickets:
“Mormon” is correctly used in proper names such as the Book of Mormon or when used as an adjective in such historical expressions as “Mormon Trail”
(“Style Guide—The Name of the Church,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
According to these official guidelines, it’s OK to use “Mormon” as a proper name—which makes sense because a revered ancient prophet was named Mormon, as is the book of scripture that bears his name: the Book of Mormon.
But it’s also appropriate to refer to use “historical expressions” that use the term “Mormon.” The specific example given is Mormon Trail, which refers to the 1,300-mile-long route from Illinois to Utah that pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints traveled in 1846–47. Today, the Mormon Trail is a part of the United States National Trails System, and its official name is the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail.
Other historical expressions that use the word include Mormon pioneer, Mormon Battalion, Mormon War—and, yes, Mormon cricket.
Following these guidelines, LDS Living will continue to uphold our prophet’s direction to “restore the correct name of the Lord’s Church,” and we encourage members and media organizations to do the same.
In so doing, we refrain from using the term Mormon the vast majority of the time, but we also recognize the guidance that once in a while—and in very specific contexts—the word still has a limited place in Latter-day Saint vocabulary.