You are so “Mormon.” Why, yes I am, and thank you!

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Note: Over the years I have observed that some ideas cycle back into current conversation. Over the past few weeks I have both read and heard this specific idea coming around again. Here are my thoughts from a few years back.

Mormon plates

“That guy is so..I don’t know how to say it… he is soooo Mormon.”

“She’s kind of a Molly Mormon.”

“I just don’t want to look too Mormon.”

You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it.  It bugs me.

First off, this is not merely a diatribe protecting the sanctity of my online name, it is much broader than that. Here is why:

1) Mormon was awesome, and I’m not just talking about his arms. He is easily one of the most important men in the history of the world. He was faithful. When he was 10 years old he was tasked by a prophet to take care of the records we know and love as the Book of Mormon. It was named after him. When he was 15, the Savior himself paid him a visit. (link)  Imagine a world with no Mormon, and you have a world with no Book of Mormon. That single fact means he deserves our praise and respect.

2) Using the term “Mormon” to describe ourselves has been sanctioned by modern prophets. Just last April, Elder M. Russell Ballard said the following:

“The term Mormon can be appropriately used in some contexts to refer to members of the Church, such as Mormon pioneers, or to institutions, such as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Church members are widely known as Mormons, and in interactions with those not of our faith, we may fittingly refer to ourselves as Mormons, provided we couple this with the full name of the Church.” (link)

So here are my questions:

• Why would I ever use the term “Mormon” to diminish, or denigrate another member of the Church?

• Why would I draw a distinction between being a “Latter-day Saint” vs. being a “Mormon,” unless it was an attempt to make one appear superior than the other.

• Why would I assume that my view of LDS/Mormon “culture” is more correct than everyone else’s, to the point where I can call myself “LDS,” but relegate those I disagree with to the lowly title of “Mormon?”

• Why would I try and subdivide the Church? (Subdivided Mormonism)

• Why would I presume that anyone using the term Mormon or LDS somehow reflects a different level of commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Yet it happens all around us.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yes, I’m a Mormon, and I gladly wear that title.

I wish I were more like Mormon.

MMM logo small

Originally published 9/14/2014

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36 COMMENTS

      • Hey, I was just happy to have my response on top, so I had to be quick and go with the first thoughts.

        Good post though. I have heard my daughter say this about other girls at her school and cringed as the words were spoken. She has always been a good girl and for some reason felt that she needed to be a little different from the other Mormons (not bad, just different). Similar reasons to her and some of my other kids anti-BYU sentiment. She is serving a mission now and it will be interesting to see how/if this particular attitude changes.

  1. I guess it depends on how it is being used. When someone says that to me I am usually flattered because I think “wow, I must be doing something right that people recognize me as a member of the church by my actions”. By their fruits ye shall know them or something like that right?

  2. I remember as a young girl visiting my Grandma’s ward in SLC, an older Sister got up in Testimony meeting and told us how proud she was to be called a “Mormon” and the reasons why. .As I remember I think she spoke quite a long time about that. I was so impressed by her and now you have reinforced my belief that it is a worthy and honorable title.

  3. We completed another round of reading the Book of Mormon with the kids a few months ago. Mormon is a really funny guy too: “And I, being fifteen years of age and **being somewhat of a sober mind**, therefore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus”

    Makes me laugh every time, the kids thought it was funny too: “yeah, when I was 15 and saw Jesus Christ” mentioned off hand like it’s not a big deal.

  4. I guess there was some regional news article or something triggering this post. Maybe I don’t read the same web sites, but I have no context for this ‘problem.’

    • I agree. I’ve never heard anyone “accuse” someone of being Mormon, or otherwise use the term as MMM is discussing. Maybe it’s common in Utah.

      • This post is in response to an article making its way across the internet that espouses a different view.

        Also, if you have never heard anyone in the Church use the term in a negative fashion (“Molly Mormon” for example) Then I am happy for you, or you need to get out more!

        • Guess I need to get out more. Haven’t heard ‘Molly Mormon’ in about 20 years — about the same time I moved out of Provo.

          • Lol, perhaps we live in the same area of the country… I’ve most definitely heard “Molly Mormon” but not for many, many years. I’d bet my first born child most of my miamaids wouldn’t know the term or at least heard it used by their peers.

        • I call myself a molly mormon. Which I have interpreted as a rule follower. Someone who follows all the rules and takes them all seriously.

          • Agree! I know there are some who think I take the rules too seriously (like the sister who wanted my son to be baptized for her grandfather and couldn’t understand why I declined when I found out she refused to get her non-member father’s permission- “he won’t understand” & “this is more important”), but I figure I need all the blessings I can get and that there are reasons for everything. And even trying to follow the rules, I mess up enough that I like to keep them whenever I can and not knowingly flout them…

  5. I read your post about labels. I like being a _____ Mormon. I don’t like derogatory terms to divide Latter Day Saints into categories. But, I admire Mormon. I’ve pondered what it means to be “of sober mind and Quick to observe” These are qualities I try to develop. I love the quote from Brigham Young that says, “follow me, as I follow Christ.” I’m a Mormon, trying to be like Mormon, who ultimately was trying to follow Christ.

    http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1456
    I can’t link it, you’ll have to copy and paste. It’s Elder Bednar’s best speech (IMO) about Mormon.

  6. But here’s the deal:
    1) As a military leader, Mormon suffered the worst single-day military loss in the history of organized warfare. If I’m MacArthur or Patton, I’m talking trash to him everyday in the Spirit World. But when you think about it, that didn’t bother Mormon one dang bit because the Nephites were beyond hope. What I always took from that if that you should always make the cause isn’t worth fighting for or if more the most ardent supporters don’t care anymore, than we got problems.
    2) Mormon abridged the Book of Mormon. That means he was the greatest copy editor in the history of eternal mankind. This gave me solace of the important of copy editors when I was in the newspaper business.
    3) I’ve always considered myself a Liberal Mormon — I drink Coke, vote Democratic if he/she is the better candidate and strongly believe that BYU should run the ball.

  7. Thanks, MMM! I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. We ARE known far and wide as Mormons, and it often opens up opportunities to share more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  8. It comes from people who know they are not doing the things they should be, or they feel guilty about something, so they belittle other to feel better about themselves and justify their lives.

  9. Criticism of others always stems from our own insecurities. On a completely different note- I think you should have a Halloween contest where everyone should dress up as you. (what they think you look like) and post the picture. Who ever gets the closest, will get complete denial from you that you look that way. Great. Idea.

  10. When someone asks me “Are you Mormon?” I have been known to answer “Actually, I’m more of a Sam.”–just because my mind runs in interesting directions. The askers look very confused.

  11. I was student teaching a few years back and a girl in the class said to a boy, ‘You are such a ‘Mormon’..She apparently didn’t like the way he was acting or something…….I was a little surprised by her statement, but I knew she meant it derogatorily …I called her out on it and really don’t remember all I said to her but did say that she may insult someone in class.

  12. When I was in high school we lived in UT for a couple of years. There was this one boy whom I had a crush on. He was LDS, but did not attend much. I came to find out that he also had a crush on me, but had told someone that I was “too churchy”.

    That was 20 years ago. Some things you never forget. What I REALLY haven’t forgotten about that is that I ACTUALLY WAS BOTHERED BY THAT COMMENT!!!!!!! Why was I such an idiot? I should have been proud! But I wasn’t. I am not saying that comment alone was the cause of what eventually was a long period of inactivity.

    Today, if someone were to say the same thing, I would say, “Really? Oh, I hope so.”

    I want to be so Mormon that…well…I am just like the man himself!

  13. I’ve heard that before, the “you’re so Mormon” comment. It is definitely derogatory. I think of Lehi’s dream where people were mocking those on the straight and narrow when I hear about this. Which means I ignore them, and realize I must be doing something right if people think I’m too Mormon or churchy. Is there such a thing as “too churchy” in the celestial kingdom? 🙂

  14. AuntSue
    When someone said my husband and I were Marvin and Molly Mormon, we just laughed! We didn’t feel that perfect. We were asked by the same person how we could possibly have left Zion. (we had recently moved to Oregon) Our family has found Zion all over Oregon and North Carolina and Washington and Texas and Iowa and Indiana and Virginia and Maine and New York and California and Arizona and Indiana and Washington DC and Utah.

  15. I read that article-and unfortunately, many of the comments. I came away thinking, there sure are some angry/unhappy people on the internet. (understatement of a lifetime) Thanks for once again providing a positive read. It must be harder than I realize to write from a positive perspective. Not much of it around.

  16. I met a Scottish man during my college years who admitted that he had troubles dating because the girls always said he was too churchy. He said, in his thick Scottish brogue, “Can ye imagine Sister Hinckley saying ‘Gordon, yer too churchy!!”. I still laugh every time I think about it and hear his voice in my mind. 🙂

  17. I have always thought that the distinction was used because someone who was a “mormon” was a member of the Church in name only, not really living the gospel just going along with the flow and a latter-day saint was some one who was really converted and living the gospel; but I agree that there should not be a distinction and I am happy to be called either/or or both.

  18. Melissa–your comment made my whole month. I have been accused of being a molly mormon my whole life (I’m 35). I don’t mind. If people could see my soul they’d realize I have just as many sins as anyone else. I just try to be perfect in the small things and hope it helps me with the really significant things. Nope–don’t watch tv on Sundays–wish I could master pride. That sort of idea.

  19. I had this well explained as cultural Mormon (Utah Mormon) vs. Doctrinal Mormon.

    The cultural Mormon wants to look Mormon, and makes a show of having the perfect Mormon life. They look down on those who don’t display the same perfect Mormon life. These are the ones who have to tell you you’re a bad person because you mowed your lawn last Sunday afternoon.

    The doctrinal Mormon does their best, and suspects that others are doing their best as well. When their neighbor mows their lawn on Sunday afternoon they don’t think anything of it, except maybe to ask if they want help with anything.

  20. Thank you for this post! After reading, I’m thinking I would love to be told, “Man you are SUCH a Mother of Mormon!” That would be an even better compliment than being a Molly Mormon. Can you imagine how faithful that family must have been to have taught a young boy and supported his faithful spirit so that he was prepared at 10 to be trusted with such a responsibility…let alone to see Christ himself as a teenager? TAs a mother of teenagers, that is where my mind went today, and I marvel!!

  21. Hmm. Maybe I have been using the wrong definitions. I thought a Molly Mormon was a woman who didn’t quite understand the Atonement, who was guilt-ridden because she couldn’t keep ALL the commandments ALL the time, no matter how hard she tried to do so.

  22. Aunt Sue
    I was going to reply to your excellent post, and was quite surprised to find I had replied in 2014. Your posts really hold up over time!

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