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Misuse of "Mormon" in The Times Confuses Readers

During the past few years most journalists in the U.S. have done an excellent job in clarifying the differences between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and small, polygamist, splinter groups that often call themselves "Mormons" but have no connection with the Church. Since these groups are covered in the press frequently, we appreciate journalists' efforts to make this distinction.

However, today The Times in London ran a story about a polygamist group, not at all associated with the Church, with the headline "Mormon polygamist Raymond Jessop on trial after raid on sect's compound." Journalists who use the word "Mormon" in relation to polygamist groups unassociated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cause enormous amounts of confusion in the minds of their readers. Particularly internationally, readers do not distinguish between these groups and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which there are over 13.5 million members worldwide.

A few weeks ago I was in Korea and spoke with some of the Church's Public Affairs media representatives there. They expressed frustration with international wire services that inappropriately use the term "Mormon" in their stories in association with fringe polygamists groups. The Korean press often reruns these stories with the wire service inaccuracies. The effect of such misinformation in Korea, and other countries where the Church has fewer members and is less well known, is much greater.

We refer The Times and others who write about these groups to the extensive material on newsroom.lds.org that corrects and clarifies past reports on this issue. Here are just a few pages(including video):

Senior Church Leader Appeals to Media to Make Distinction

Use of the Word "Mormon" in News Reports

Clarifying Polygamy Confusion

Reports of Polygamy Story Vary Across the World

"Mormons" and Polygamy

Church Seeks to Address Public Confusion Over Texas Polygamy Group

The BBC ran the same story today, but avoided using the term "Mormon" in association with a polygamist group and clearly made the distinction. That effort to be accurate is good for everyone involved.

 

 
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This blog is managed and written by staff of the Public Affairs Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The information here is reliable and accurate but should not necessarily be viewed as official statements from the Church. The purpose of this blog is to provide journalists, bloggers, and the public with additional context and information regarding public issues involving the Church. For official news releases and statements from the Church, visit MormonNewsroom.org

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