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January 13, 2007


Dana King


How does "friend" sound, or "neighbor" as Elder Ballard suggests? How would that have made you feel when you were investigating?

I agree "friend of another faith" has to be in the right context.

See my blog - New Convert? - for more thoughts related to the term new-to-the-gospel. Ann Trujillo, who also provides commentary, agrees with you, as do I, that new-to-the-gospel may not be appropriate.

I am sure not everyone is off put by being called "non-member", but I am more comfortable if they apply the term to themselves. I won't use the term non-member because of the feedback from so many who don't like the term. And, also because practicing inclusive language has made me more sensitive to others. Those are the motivating factors for me.

Thank you for giving us another perspective.


I don't know about this. There are two sides to this question. As a convert to the church I was happy to call myself a "non-member" just because I felt that I did not want to be included before I was ready. I experienced that calling myself a "non-member" gave members of the church an understanding that they may believe all these things, but I may not agree, so don't include me before I say so.

When it comes to the term investigator - that was exactly what I saw myself as. I was investigating the church and trying to find out more about it.

I do not believe that "you'll become a better Christian" when excluding these terms from your vocabulary. And I would have been a lot more offended being called "friend of another Faith" or "new-to-the-Gospel" because in my eyes I did not have another Faith, neither was I new to the Gospel. I can see today where you're coming from with these phrases, but at the time I would not have accepted them. And I have reason to believe there are others out there that might react the same way.

Dana King

Hi Jessica,

There will always be those in any faith who want to be truer than true. I won't let that stop me from following Elder Ballard's suggestion. Will you?



OH brother. People will choose to be offended if they want to be. I'll agree that "non-member" sounds more exclusionary than "not a member."

My main gut reaction to this whole discussion is that it will just become another way that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compare themselves to one another. The more righteous and pure in heart you are, the fewer times you'll slip up and say the now taboo words "not a member." Much like the way academics inwardly dismiss people who answer the question "How are you doing?" with the glaringly grammatically incorrect "I'm doing good."

People in Christ's time could have been offended that they were described as fish meant to be caught up in nets by "fishers of men."

John Totten

This is great idea. I think friend is appropriate. We have much in common with friends. This is sort of akin to an experience I had on the Navajo Reservation. Native Americans who are active members of the Church typically object to be called Lamanites because of the negative label that was put on them in the Book of Mormon. They seem to appreciate more being called Children of Lehi and I thought it would be even better to be Children of Abraham. The Navajo Nation as a whole do not want to be called Indians either and their preference is Native American or Navajo or Dine meaning The People.

Ann Trujillo

I completely agree with "Non Be Gone." The only "new and improved" phrase I might hesitate to use would be "new to the gospel." Many of our friends might not consider themselves at all new to the gospel, since they have the Bible, perhaps have attended and participated in Christian churches, and perhaps are already striving to live a Christ-centered life.

Here's something that's somewhat related - one of the things that makes me cringe is when members say something like, "He's not a member, but he's a really good person" - as if we as members of the Church have the market cornered on being good people!

Justin Ekins

I agree completely! When someone tells me that so-and-so is a non-member, I pretend like I think they are referring to their gym membership status. "Oh really?" Jake's not a member? Where does he work out then?

Julie Echols

What a great post! I am adding "non" be gone to my list of New Years and life long resolutions. Communication is so important and how we "label" people can be so belittling or empowering. I will commit to working harder at training my tongue and thinking of the person before the category...which means I get to be more inclusive and welcome ALL of my brothers and sisters in the world into my life. Thanks for sharing this great insight and practical idea.

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