Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A handy guide to different types of Mormons

I'm sure all of these are covered by Wikipedia ;-) but I'd like to post my own impressions of what the different terms mean. I don't claim to be the world's leading expert, so everyone feel free to correct me, clarify, and add to this list.

faithful Mormon, believing Mormon, true-believing Mormon (TBM): Someone who believes in Mormonism and practices it (especially the SLC-based LDS church). Typically has a "testimony".

active Mormon: Someone who attends LDS church regularly -- at least once a month -- and fulfills callings.

inactive Mormon: Someone who is listed as a member on the LDS church records but is MIA as far as the LDS church is concerned. Theoretically this applies mostly to people who might be "reactivated", however in practice it could be anything. Including dead.

jack Mormon, jackmo: Someone who believes in Mormonism but does not practice. This term is especially applied to believers who ignore important commandments such as the "Word of Wisdom" and the "law of chastity."

New Order Mormon (NOM): Someone who disbelieves key doctrines of Mormonism yet actively chooses to practice Mormonism.

Liberal Mormon: Somewhere between the "when the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done" crowd and the New Order Mormons. Includes many TBMs as well as many readers of the magazine Sunstone.

Bloggernaccler or Naccler: Soumeone who regularly frequents the LDS-themed blogs. On average, they tend to be liberal Mormons.

Utah Mormon: A Mormon from Utah. Amusing stereotypes abound, especially involving funeral potatoes, "creative" first names, and saying "Oh my heck!"

mission-field Mormon: A Mormon who grew up or lives in a place with hardly a Mormon in sight.

exmormon, exmo, ex-Mormon: Someone who used to believe in Mormonism but doesn't anymore. Usually excommunicated or "resigned" but not necessarily.

post-Mormon: Same as exmormon. This term is sometimes preferred by those who feel that the term "exmormon" has negative connotations.

anti-Mormon: Someone who deliberately opposes and fights against the LDS church.

fundamentalist Mormon or Mormon fundamentalist: A member of one of the sects that broke from the SLC-based LDS church over the doctrine of polygamy. (The LDS church discourages use of this term, but it is commonly understood in practice.)

apostate: Someone who has fallen away from the church. There is some confusion as to precisely who fits into this category. Whether it's exmormons, anti-Mormons, fundamentalist Mormons, members of the SLC-based LDS church, or people who have fallen away from some entirely different religion really depends on who you're talking to...

ethnic Mormon: A multi-generational Mormon, especially a descendant of Mormon pioneers and/or polygamists.

(Mormon) convert: Someone who converted to Mormonism from some other religion or world-view.

Community of Christ, Strangite, Bickertonite, etc.: I don't know all of the terms for the members of other restoration churches -- any help would be appreciated.

cultural Mormon: All of the above.


Sideon said...

One addition: Gay Mormon. Similar to "Gay Republican," another oxymoron.

Love your stuff, Chanson. Mwah!

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Sideon!!!

Fabulous addition and good point!!! :D

m said...

Foreign Mormon. Especially European Mormon. Those are a whole nuther world.

And speaking of, I will be officially outed as an ex-mo in my newspaper interview this Saturday. Ha!

Anonymous said...

Interesting, there isn't an LDS term for mission field converts from foreign countries (i.e. foreign to the U.S., obviously to people there, the U.S. is foriegn).

Bookslinger and others are Gay Mormons, and we still have Gay Republicans in Texas.

BTW, you might enjoy these essays, given the politics implicit in some of the posts:

Cost of Preaching Jesus' Gospel: $3,000,000 and Christians in the Hand of an Angry God.

o http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/258401.html
o http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/118585.html
o ** http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/118805.html (Part 2)
o ** http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/119283.html (Part 3)
o ** http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/119661.html (Part 4)
o ** http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/119950.html(Part 5)
o ** http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/121495.html (Afterwards: The Democratic Party is for Losers)
o http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/181523.html Hellenic Reconstructionist 10 Commandments
o http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/123912.html An Unsupportable Pack of Lies

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Montchan!!!

I was thinking about just that when I was compiling this list -- foreign-born Mormons are very different culturally than US and Canadian Mormons, yet there doesn't seem to a cute LDS slang term for them aside from just "foreign". I'm not sure why that is.

Hey Brad Hicks!!!

Same comment to you as to Montchan. ;-) As far as gay Republicans and Mormons are concerned, of course they exist -- I think Sideon's point was just that it seems like they shouldn't, given the way gay people are treated by Mormons and Republicans.

BTW, thanks for the links to your series of essays. This is a topic I'm very interested in actually. I'm convinced that every religion and worldview has all sorts of good and bad people, and I'm trying to promote that position. So it's nice to see some action from reasonable Chrisitians standing up to the religious right (for trashing separation of church and state) and saying "Hey that's not what Christianity's all about!"

Anonymous said...

Huh. I guess I needed this: I thought NOM stood for "non orthodox Mormon."

I can't keep all those Mos straight.

Anonymous said...


"non Orthodox Mormon." Love it. Yes, it fits perfectly. I don't think any NOMs would quarrel with that appelation.


I object to the description of apostates as those who have "fallen away" from the church. it implies that the church is on higher moral ground relative to the apostate (that the apostate has "fallen.") it also implies a certain level of passivity that I think is not generally present among apostates: they haven't simply "fallen," they have actively, deliberately, usually quite thoughtfully, distanced themselves from the church. The "falling away" language plays right intot he hands of the orthodox Mormons.

Freckle Face Girl said...

Great list! I guess I fit into several. :)

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Holly!!!

I've never heard that acronym as "Non-Orthodox Mormon" but you're right -- that one works too!!!

Hey Equality!!!

I was being a little tongue-in-cheek about the term "apostate" because it's already a loaded term that means different things to different people. As I was saying to Holly recently, I sometimes like to identify as "apostate" for fun the way gay people have claimed the word "queer", but I don't think it's realistic to expect religious people to accept a positive definition for the word...

Hey Freckle Face Girl!!!

I fit several as well!!! I was thinking of asking commenters to mention which types apply to them... ;^)

Anonymous said...

You forgot BIC Mormon... that is someone born to parents who were sealed in the temple.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Sinister Porpoise!!!

Of course!!! How'd I forget that one?

Anonymous said...

Right now I prefer recovering mormon, and while my name is officially on the LDS membership roll I don't feel mormon anymore.

As for apostate my TBM wife hates that term, and more so when I say it with pride. She feels I should be ashamed of it, and of course I tell her that I am not.

Freckle Face Girl said...

Here's my list:
Inactive Mormon - except not MIA thanks to TBM family that orders Ensigns & the Friend for me
Semi-Utah Mormon - lived there off & on
Semi-Mission Field Mormon - other places I've lived
Ethnic Mormon - for generations on both sides
Cultural Mormon - can't help it
BIC - my parents met at BYU

I guess partly exmo. I see it more as an association/club. I don't mind attending for family functions. Mainly, I think all organized religion takes over your life and I don't believe their hype.

Cyn Bagley said...

Hi C.L. Just trying to get back from a bout of illness..

I fit in the ex-mo but I always thought that Jack Mormons didn't believe in the Mormon doctrine... will have to quit calling myself that... also my family are "ethnic mos and Utah mos." So does that make me an ethnic Utah ex-mo?


Anonymous said...

How about a "Buffet Mormon" ... rather synonymous with a liberal Mormon in usage, though I'm convinced that ALL Mormons are Buffet Mormons.

Question: what is the mormon equivalent of mashed potatoes?

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey AZ Expositor!!!

I like using the term "apostate" too for essentially the same reason -- they think I should be ashamed of it but I'm not. ;-)

Hey Freckle Face Girl!!!

I think you qualify as exmo.

For me, I guess the ones that fit are the following: exmormon, ethnic Mormon, mission-field Mormon, inactive Mormon, and apostate.

Hey Cynthia!!!

I hope you're feeling better!!! And I hope this illness hasn't put too much of a damper on the progress you were making on your novel.

Personally I've always heard that belief is the difference between an exmo and a jackmo: The exmo runs into the jackmo at a bar, and while discussing the church over a few beers, the jackmo will say the prophet is inspired and the exmo will say he isn't. ;-)

I may be wrong about that though...

And yes, you're an ethnic Utah exmo! :D

Hey Watt!!!

That's a good one too!!! You may be right that it applies to all Mormons today, but I think it was less the case thirty years ago.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your definition of a "Jack Mormon".

My lifeline, according to your definitions.

From age 0 to 24 I was a True-Believing Mormon (TBM).

From age 24 to 28 I was a Jack Daniels Mormon, er, I mean Jack Mormon.

From age 29 to 33 I was a Liberal Mormon.

From age 34 to 37 I was/am a New Order Mormon. (Although, I'm not sure was "practice Mormonism" means... does it mean I obey all of the commandments, or I attend meetings and have a calling, or both?)

Anonymous said...

I'm a gay Mormon, but I believe I fall into the Jack Mormon category, so I don't really need my own gay category...

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Matt!!!

Great timeline!!!

I'm not totally sure what I mean by "practicing" either. ;^)

If you're a self-identified NOM and a part of that community, then you probably know better than I do what level of activity is involved...

Hey anonymous!!!

Always happy to hear from more gay jack Mormons. :D

Anonymous said...

"Practicing" is relative, I guess... somewhat in the eyes of the beholder. I continue to attend Sunday meetings, and even hold a calling. As such, a Post-Mormon would probably call me "practicing". However, my "beliefs" and behaviors are decidedly outside the Mormon boundaries... were they known by my fellow TBM's, they'd certainly call me "non-practicing".

John said...

I've found that labels in theory are different from labels in practice. In a pinch, I use "raised Mormon" when I need to quickly summarize the impact my former faith had on me and my current relationship to it. It's not entirely accurate, but is useful when I can't afford the detour.

I like to try on labels to see how they fit. When I was still struggling with Mormonism, I was a liberal-Mo, an atheist-Mo, then a post-Mo. Now that I've stopped attending Church, I've started using the label "ex-Mo" and I find that it fits me. What's more, I was worried that exMo was synonymous with angry apostate, but this stereotype was cleared after encountering you and others who have adopted the label (several on your blogroll). And you all wear your labels with panache . :)

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Matt!!!

Like I said, I'm no expert, but you sound like a classic NOM to me. :D

Thanks John!!!

I'm glad my friends and I have shown you that exmos can be perfectly nice, reasonable, non-bitter people. That message has got to be at least half of my purpose in blogging. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I think I'm going to stop using the term "ExMormon" in reference to myself any more. I've decided that I'm a schismatic Mormon. :)

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey John!!!

You're pretty hard-core for an atheist!!!

For the moment I'm sticking with exmo / cultural Mormon... :D

Anonymous said...

So, to answer your question about the broader Latter Day Saint movement, here are some more terms.

The broader movement: "Latter Day Saint movement" or "Latter Day Restoration movement" or some variation.

"Latter Day Saint" as a term is inclusive of the whole movement, while "Latter-day Saint" would refer specifically to members of the large Utah church. Members of the Community of Christ and others call themselves "Latter Day Saints". The exception to this is the Bickertonites who don't use the term. They refer to the movement as the "Restoration."

"Rocky Mountain Saint" --- broadly, anyone relating to the Brighamite branch of Mormonism, including members of the LDS church and also Mormon Fundamentalists.

"Prairie Saint" --- broadly, anybody relating to the branches of Mormonism based in the Midwestern US.

"Great Lakes Saint" --- a term occasionally used for Strangites.

"Great Lakes Mormon" or "Strangite Mormon" --- the Strangites are Midwestern group that uses the term "Mormon" to refer to themselves.

All manner of "-ite" names.

"Twelvite" --- After Brigham Young's first coup (1844) but before his second coup (1847), his followers are properly refered to as "Twelvites."

"Brighamite" --- Refers to any group that traces its origins to Brigham Young (including Mormon fundamentalists), but is usually reserved for members of the large Utah church.

"Josephite" --- Refers to any group that traces its origins through Joseph Smith III.

"Strangite" (ditto James Strang), "Hedrickite" (Granville Hedrick), "Rigdonite" (Sidney Rigdon), "Bickertonite" (William Bickerton), "Whitmerite" (David Whitmer), "Morrisite" (Joseph Morris), "Thompsonite" (Charles B. Thompson), "Wightite" or "Lymanite" (Lyman Wight), "Cutlerite" (Alpheus Cutler), "Godbeite" (William Godbe), etc.

"Restorationist" is a term generally used by fundamentalists (non-polygamous of course) in the RLDS tradition --- many are members of the "Independent Restoration Branch" movement. Others have organized in churches such as the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks John!!!

I knew you'd be the one who'd have all the scoop on the various non-Brighamite branches!!! :D

It seems like among the "Rocky Mountain Saints" the term "Mormon" is the broader term for the people and the culture and the term "LDS" is the one that more narrowly refers to the corresponding religious practice and belief. It's logical since "Mormon" sounds more like the name of a tribe whereas "LDS" has the obvious "Saint" aspect...

It's too bad that most of the other restoration churches have reversed this, using "LDS" as the blanket term and "Mormon" more exclusively (excluding themselves).

Personally, I'd rather identify as "cultural Mormon" than "cultural LDS" -- because of the tradition vs. religion aspect, not because I consider those guys to be part of a separate tradition.

I suppose it's too much to hope that they'll change their terminology? ;-)

from the ashes said...

Oh! I was just thinking about making this type of list on my blog, but I googled "types of Mormons" and found that you already did it!

Maybe I'll do it anyway, and delve more into the problematic of labels.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hi From the Ashes!!!

I don't claim this as a definitive list -- if you've got some interesting additional ones, I'll come have a look once you've posted them.

Anonymous said...

What about the all the foster children who were baptised into the church?

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Anonymous!!!

Hmmm, not sure. It probably depends on whether they feel Mormon or not.

Carli said...

Really liked this article and the comments. I read this to make sure I referencing term correctly, and then I wrote "How to be a Jack Mormon" http://www.theculturalhallpodcast.com/2012/06/how-to-be-a-jack-mormon/
Thought your readers might like it too.