There are many many acronyms in the nomenclature of the Mormon church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has come up with many nicknames for parts of the organization or even doctrines, most of which are acronyms. Some of these are “official” acronyms while others have simply developed naturally over time. It should be no surprise that Ex-Mormons, those that have left the church, continue this once they leave the church and continue finding ways to describe the church or other such topics which involve acronyms. This can be confusing to those who are not aware of what these acronyms are or what they mean. We’ve compiled a few here to help those who are wondering what they might mean.
One of the most common ways to refer to the church is TSCC, which stands for “the so-called church”. When individuals leave the church, it is because they have been disillusioned and no longer believe the tenants of the church, or they discover that the truth claims of the church and not true. Once we see The Church as not “true”, it becomes quite difficult to even call it a church. As believing members, we are taught that it is the only true and living church on the fact of the earth, that no other church is true or can be considered “of God”.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is also the so-called church because it operates far more like a corporation than it does a church.
This means any variation of the following: True Believing/Blue Member/Mormon. It indicates a member of the church who believes it all. They would be a member who would “drink the kool-aid” so to speak. They are not questioning the leadership and not really thinking for themselves. They may have issues on their shelf, but they aren’t struggling currently with their own position in the church. They are happy as members and Mormon family and friends are their main circle. They are happy in the church and it’s all working for them. This is a normal state for members to exist, that is until there is some sort of catalyst event or change that takes them to a state of active questioning. This is the “inoculated” state, where the leaders want members to be: compliant, obedient, trusting, respectful, paying, and praying.
A catalyst event may be someone they know leaving the church, the shelf items becoming too large to handle and breaking the shelf, coming upon new material that challenges the comfortable worldview (something like the CES letter is common), or a family member coming out as gay, or even a change of status quo in a marriage or family. There are many many catalysts that lead members to begin questioning and challenging their own worldviews. There’s no guarantee that a member will for any of these life events, and some will start to process, but reject the new information and doubled down into their TBM-state.
A nuanced member of the church is not literally believing everything they hear at church. They may take a few things here or there, but not take the whole. They may not follow all the rules the church expects them to. They may say no to callings or speaking assignments, they may opt to stay home from church when it suits them, they may not be excited about the next General Conference addresses, and may even consider it a break from church. They might not be too interested in things like church history or doctrine. They might not be interested because it is triggering.
Physically in, mentally out. This refers to those memes who have no testimony of the church but continue to attend services and participate. There are many reasons one might do this, but it is usually to do with family members who are still believing church members. To stop attending is too troubling at times to be worth the effort. Some who refer to themselves as PIMO, might not have even told their families or spouse yet. They may have suffered a faith crisis or deconstructed their testimony without sharing the journey with others. They may have a secret Reddit handle or have stumbled onto the CES letter.
This one is more obvious, its a nickname or shortening of Ex-Mormon. Many Mormons, or members of the church, find the term Ex-Mormon to be very off-putting. It challenges their faith to even consider that someone would choose to leave it. The Church (or TSCC).
Post-Mormon is another term that means the same thing but has a less “offensive” ring. This site uses the term Was-Mormon in an attempt to remove negative connotations and use it as a matter of fact. Like a previous state of being: I was a child, but now I’m grown. I was mistaken, but now I have learned better. I was an avid runner, but then my knee gave me trouble, so I am lucky to walk a mile. I was a Mormon, I’m not Mormon any longer. This term comes with less judgment than using exmormon, which to a TBM, feels as scary as someone being an anti-Mormon. It does leave a begging question of “why” though. Why are you no longer Mormon? Answering that question is the main mission of this site: to allow those who are no longer Mormon to tell their story. They can give all the reasons they left the church. In doing so, they might use acronyms like TSSC, PIMO, or even TBM.
UTBOH – Under the Banner of Heaven, a book by Jon Krakauer about the fundamentalist-leaning Lafferty brothers and their heinous blood atonement murder. It was later made into a television series.
EPA – Ensign Peak Advisors, the financial investment branch of the corporation of the church that has invested surplus tithing money into the stock market. Ensign Peak is responsible for the billions of dollars the church has invested and has been in trouble recently with the SEC for fraud.
BITE – The Bite Model for measuring or detecting a cult or at least cult-like tendencies. “BITE” stands for Behavior, Information, Thought, and Emotional control. The BITE Model offers a list of variables that can be easily identified and which quickly show if a group or individual is exercising unethical influence and was developed by Steven Hassan.
Mormon terms and acronyms typically used by those still in the church
GA – General Authority. A church official, usually the upper echelons of the church including the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, or Quorum of the Seventy. Someone who is on the payroll of the church. Yes, these church leaders are compensated for their “service”. Much to the surprise of many members who are told that the church has no paid clergy and missionaries are even told to make a point that paid clergy equates to priestcrafts. Many people are employed by the church from ecclesiastical leaders (not including local leaders) and employees who work in the administration building. You could also include those working at the church law offices, and the church universities. We could also include the church financial advisors and investors in the church payroll, they help the church make bank on the widow’s mite.
TCOJCOLDS – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The full name is such a mouthful, we’ve been forced to come up with nicknames, but now that they are banned we can use this short acronym. But the acronym is longer than most words! Note the hyphenated Latter-Day, if you forget that, you’re talking about another church. TCOJCOLDS had to actually change their name since that one was taken in the US. Interesting that the lord declared the name of the church but didn’t think to check what was allowed.
EQP – Elders Quorum President, this is a priesthood calling in a Mormon ward. Each ward has an Elders Quorum, or group of priesthood holders, the EQP helps lead a ward alongside a Bishop.
PEC – Priesthood Executive Committee is a meeting where the priesthood leaders of a ward get together and discuss and plan ward business.
MTC – The Missionary Training Center is where missionaries go to train for their mission, as well as get started learning any language required for their mission.
RM – The Returned Missionary is a coveted status of many Mormons. Young men are raised with a strong expectation that they will serve a two-year mission for the church (and pay for it themselves). Only once you complete the mission “with honor” can you claim the badge of RM. If you opt out of serving or are unworthy to serve or finish a mission, you will likely be shunned for calling yourself an RM.
MP – The Mission President, is the president of a mission. The world is divided into different regions for the church missionary work and each area has a president who is in charge of all the missionaries and the work for that area.
AP – Assistant to the President. This is a missionary position reserved for full-time Elders serving a mission. They are called to assist the Mission President. They usually serve for a while and are selected from the missionaries in the whole mission. The Mission Pres will choose someone he likes and trusts. Thus, to be an AP signifies that you were a successful missionary trusted with a leadership position over the whole mission. It is also a position reserved for male missionaries and is not available to sister missionaries.
ZL – A Zone Leader is another missionary position. Each mission is subdivided into zones, and the Mission President will select an Elder or companionship of Elders to “preside” over the zone. This is usually a training ground for potential APs. These ZLs will be in charge of taking care of the missionaries in the zone.
DL – A District Leader is another missionary position. Each mission zone is further subdivided into districts. Each district needs a District Leader to run the administration efforts in the district. This includes running district meetings and gathering statistics each week on missionary performance. A DL must also be an Elder, not a sister missionary. Being a DL is a training ground for ZLs, and the better-serving DLs can move up the hierarchy.
BOM – Book of Mormon acronym.
CES – Church Education System is the whole branch of the church that is focused on Education. It encompasses seminaries, institutes, and the Universities of the church (BYU, BYU Idaho, BYU Hawaii, etc). The infamous CES letter is so-called, due to it being a letter addressed to a director in the CES.
CTR – Chose the Right, a mantra of sorts young Mormons are taught in primary lessons. There are CTR rings that bear the acronym placed on a green shield. This is basically the Mormon equivalent of the WWJD (What would Jesus Do) acronym.
BYU – Brigham Young University, the church-owned and operated college. The church subsidizes the cost of tuition with tithing money so members can attend college very affordably and also the church can control what their young adults are taught in this environment and even how they live. There is an Honor Code at the school that students must abide by and regularly report infractions of fellow students. There is also a dress and grooming standard the school enforces on its students so they don’t look like hippies.
PGP – Pearl of Great Price, a book of canonized scriptures which contains the Book of Moses, which Joseph Smith gleaned via revelation while reading the Old Testament, the Book of Abraham, which Joseph purportedly translated from some papyri scrolls as well as the canonized version of church history known as Joseph Smith History where we find the official version of the First Vision story.
BIC – Born in the Covenant. Members of the church are encouraged to research genealogy records and perform baptism and other temple work for the dead by proxy in Mormon temples. A distinction on member records is whether they were “Born in the Covenant” meaning their parents were temple sealed when they were born. If so, then they are part of the family sealing automatically, if not then the family will go to the temple together and be “sealed” together. Being BIC means you were born and raised into a family that was already temple sealed. Someone not BIC would have to attend a family sealing to become sealed (if they are sealed), at which point the sealing is valued the same. If BIC though, no sealing work is needed.
MMM – Mountain Meadows Massacre.
COB – Church Office Building. The big administration monstrosity in Salt Lake City where church officials have offices and hold meetings. This is a symbol of the corporate nature of the church, as the building is often revered and respected by members as much as a church chapel or temple.
CHI – Church Handbook of Instruction. The Manual for church administration. Historically only leaders were allowed to have access to certain manuals and they were kept under very tight control. The church has started to be more open with these and many are now available online.
What other acronyms have you been confused by when looking to understand an exmormon post or rant? What Mormon acronyms have left you wondering what they refer to?
Have you left the church? Consider telling your story. It helps you feel better and process some of the anger and feelings of betrayal so you can move on. Ideally, we can learn and grow from the experience, no matter how traumatic it feels. Tell your friends and family your story, but if they don’t want to listen or are not interested in hearing your “why”, know this is very common. Consider contributing your story to this site, and see the growing collection of profiles. Each one was written by someone like you. Everyone has an important and valid story to share. Join today and start putting it into words.