Breaking the Mormon Code

We are starting a candid conversation about LDS lingo and whether insider talk about religion comes up too often in casual conversation. Words like “ward”, “bishop” and “mission” may be familiar to you but foreign to your neighbor. Straight talk from both sides on a topic that people living in Utah often tip toe around.

Etiquette Blogger, Janine Ottley offers this advice:

Don’t Assume:

Just because people live in Utah (or even in a city that is overwhelmingly LDS, don’t assume the people you are speaking to are as well.

Don’t be afraid:

Ask. Don’t make it the first question that you ask after their name or an application they have to fill out to be a part of your life, but at some point in a conversation with someone new, ask them either if they are LDS or if they belong to an organized religion. If it doesn’t come up in conversation, go back to rule #1.

Be careful with your words:

Most people have no idea what Mutual is, what a Ward is, or who a Stake President is, let alone all the other terms that may be unique to our religion. Be careful when speaking to people who are not of your faith that you don’t use these words without explanation. I do believe this is a part of culture, not just a one day religion, so these words may naturally come up, but don’t assume that the other person will know what you mean- so take the time to briefly explain- you might even have them respond with, “I know, I’m LDS” or ” I know, I have Mormon friends” thus breaking the ice.

Be respectful and kind:

If the point of manners is to help those around us feel comfortable, then we must do all we can to make that happen. We should never pre-judge a person because they are or are not LDS. My children have friends who are LDS and friends who are not. They have good friends- period. Their friends have good families. Be careful not to exclude on the basis that someone believes different things than you do, whatever side of the fence you may be on.

Janine offers etiquette advice at and Author Chrisy Ross shares insights and strategies on how LDS and non-LDS can find common ground in her book, To Mormons with Love. For more information visit Chrisy at

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