We knew this would happen eventually after Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, launched his assault on all things “Mormon” and all things easier SEO, but after 21 years, they’ve finally done it: lds.org is no more.

This isn’t to say that the Church has ditched its web presence, but rather, is abandoning the lds.org brand. Many have wondered for some time when lds.org or other Church outlets would change domains. After all, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir changed its name before the last General Conference five months ago. The Mormon Newsroom still maintained the mormonnewsroom.org domain, but started going by mere “Newsroom,” along with the Church’s logo. But changing lds.org? That’s a whole different undertaking. The Church has spent the better part of two decades building up the lds.org brand. All things Latter-day Saint revolve around it. Leadership accesses the wonderful MLS replacement lcr.lds.org. Members can order any number of materials, including temple garments, at store.lds.org. One can view official releases by the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at letters.lds.org. As the Church has worked toward better relations and understanding with the LGBT community, mormonandgay.lds.org served as a vital resource. Everything is built around this. You get the idea.

The announcement of the change came via the Mormon Newsroom on March 5. Err, not Mormon Newsroom, but yeah…. It’s too long to post here in its entirety, but here’s a breakdown:

Websites

  • LDS.org becomes ChurchofJesusChrist.org
  • Mormonnewsroom.org becomes newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org
  • Mormon.org will eventually be folded into ChurchofJesusChrist.org. That will take time. Until then, it will be redirected to ComeUntoChrist.org

Social Media

  • The Church recently established a new Facebook Group – “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—Inspiration and News” – where members can receive information and foster a sense of community.
  • There was no mention of what will happen with the Church’s Facebook Page (facebook.com/lds)
  • Twitter display name will continue to have the full name of the Church, but @ChurchNewsroom will be the primary source of social media for Church-related news.
    • No explanation on if that means @lds is just straight up gone.

Mobile Apps

Apps will be renamed as required:

  • LDS Music becomes “Sacred Music”
  • Gospel Library stays the same
  • No mention of what happens to LDS Tools – “Sacred Tools”?!

Email Domain

We’ll just quote: “The email addresses of all Church employees, general Church leaders and many volunteers will begin using the @ChurchofJesusChrist.org domain instead of the current @ldschurch.org. Like other changes, this adjustment is intended to help keep the name of Jesus Christ prominent in all the Church does.”

Analysis

So it stands to reason that this has taken some time to sort out, but here we are with a new domain: churchofjesuschrist.org. Sounds kinda… generic? No Latter-day Saints here at all. This is Church of Jesus Christ. But why is it not The Church of Jesus Christ? Ah! So glad you asked. You see, if you happen to type in THEchurchofjesuschrist.org, you’re taken to the website of The Church of Jesus Christ, the Bickertonite offshoot that sees Sidney Rigdon as the rightful successor to Joseph Smith. (See this older podcast on the succession crisis to prime the pump.) President Nelson was clear that the Mormon lustration at hand has nothing to do with branding, and he event made an oblique reference to the SEO disaster this represents, so it appears we are just forging ahead, having spent over 150 years trying to differentiate ourselves from other denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement, only to digitally rub up right against one of our more prominent theological cousins. Who ever thought the individuals most in need of acting on faith would be Latter-day Saint-focused webmasters?!

We could always troll all of the various offshoots and buy (and redirect) the domain tcofchris.org to steal traffic away from that pesky Community of Christ. Sadly, we do not own the rlds.org domain, which doesn’t even redirect to the Community of Christ! This is a missed opportunity to throw shade at everyone who didn’t get in lock step with Brigham Young those many years ago. We’re coming for you, James Strang!

What will our Latter-day Saint shorthand be for this stuff? When you used to tell someone they can access FamilySearch and even Ancestry.com via their LDS login, will we now say, “Yeah, ah, Florence, just use your Church of Jesus Christ (again, not “the”) login”? How long until we become “CJC”? I’m not LDS, sucker. I’m CJC. All daaaaay!

Many among us will likely just enjoy the fine world of redirects and continue to type “lds.org” into our browsers. Who has time for 16 additional keystrokes? Not me!

The Church is, of course, a massive bureaucracy with different teams responsible for various properties. Sources tell us the numerous sub organizations (think Mormon Channel, Mormon Helping Hands, etc.) have until June to realign their products with the new, uh, not-branding.

Change can be difficult, but it also presents exciting opportunities. First you were not a Mormon (even though maybe you still were), and “LDS” was also cast aside officially if not in practice. We were told that “Latter-day Saints” was an acceptable shorthand to refer to all things Mormonism, but what sort of message will the new domain send about that? It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes us as a culture to get accustomed to these new identifiers, and even more interesting to see if journalists other than those employed by the Deseret News will remotely care about any of it, or try to adhere to the Newsroom’s style guide.