Thinking Out Loud

April 15, 2020

Jack Christian? (Not the Movie Producer)

Jack Rabbit (Wikipedia) — sourcing this image meant adding a note to the third definition below.

Until yesterday, I had never heard the term ‘Jack Mormon.’ It was a two-word reply to something in a long string of texting I was doing with a friend in Toronto, and I had to pause and check it out.

Wikipedia is always a good place to start:

The term Jack Mormon is a slang term originating in nineteenth-century America. It was originally used to describe a person who was not a baptized member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints but who was friendly to church members and Mormonism, sympathized with them, and/or took an active interest in their belief system. Sometime in the early- to mid-twentieth century, however, the term began to refer to an individual deemed by adherents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) to be an inactive or lapsed member of the LDS Church who, despite his personal religious viewpoint, maintained good relations with and positive feelings toward the church.

There then follows various theories as to the origin of the term.

But then there was this definition at Urban Dictionary:

A person who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but seldom or never practices their religion. Unlike ex-Mormons or anti-Mormons, Jack Mormons usually support the goals and beliefs of the church and maintain friendships with practicing Mormons, but for reasons of their own choose not to attend church services and activities. Jack Mormons may also indulge in activities discouraged by the church, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, and premarital sex.

Jack Mormon equivalents in other religions are “Christmas and Easter Christians” and “Yom Kippur Jews”.

The last paragraph sounded familiar. Chreasters. CEOs (Christmas and Easter Only.) Or perhaps in the case of a Jewish friend, non-observant.

This item at HJ News is South Logan, Utah, linked to an article that we couldn’t trace, but it was definitely worth including; if you only click one, this is the best article on the subject:

…Depending on whose mouth the words come from, it’s a term that can be bitterly derogatory or delightfully descriptive, colorful or off-color. Use it in a Cache Valley conversation and it is almost certain to illicit some sort of facial expression from your listener be that a smirk, a frown or a grimace.

Even putting it in print on a newspaper page is a bit scary. No matter what is written about this group of people with the curious nickname, someone out there is likely to become offended…

…According to the Web site Mormonhaven.com., an unofficial LDS information exchange, the term refers to people who are Mormon in name but not in deed. “Just as a Jackrabbit looks like a rabbit but isn’t truly a hare [Ed. note: Wikipedia disagrees], ‘Jack Mormon’ refers to someone claiming to be Mormon but who does not follow the teachings of the church,” the Web site states…

In the Cache Valley vernacular, a “Jack Mormon” isn’t necessarily an outright hypocrite or a closet smoker and drinker, as the above definition implies. Rather, the term is commonly used in reference to all people who were born into the LDS faith but have drifted away from its practices while remaining on the church’s membership rolls. Some try to keep up appearances. Some don’t…

Coffee for people who can’t drink coffee. Except they do. And it’s coffee.

At this point in your reading of this, knowing that Mormons aren’t allowed to consume caffeine, it should come as no surprise to you that there’s even a Jack Mormon Coffee Company.

So what about the term which is the title of today’s piece, ‘Jack Christian?’

I don’t expect it to take off; Chreasters is probably the most entrenched right now, or in more formal company, nominal Christian.

Revelation 3:15-16 came to mind,

I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! (NLT)

As did Luke 6:46

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (NASB)

As did many other verses. (James 1:22, Matthew 7:21, Romans 12:11 )

The point is that from celebrities to politicians to church acquaintances to sometimes even a deep search of our own hearts; we can often identify that state of being on a membership roll somewhere, or keeping up the appearance of being a Christian (sometimes for the advantage it gives in the civic arena or in business) without really living it. Having a talk which doesn’t match our walk.

I guess that’s why I found this term so interesting. To know that in every religious tribe there are people who, despite their connection to a faith which should be all-engaging, choose to dwell on the sidelines. Or even in complete rebellion.

And just because it happens in other faiths, doesn’t make it right or normative. Christ’s desire is that we be all-in.


After this article was posted, I continued the theme later that same day at Christianity 201. Click here to read ‘Nominal Christian’ is an Oxymoron.


Related articles at Thinking Out Loud:

  • Our own visit to a local Latter Day Saints’ church included an encounter in the lobby with a woman who whispered to us that she was completely non-observant.
  • Yes, there really is a thing called Mormon underwear. Three years ago, in an April Fool’s piece, we suggested that an Evangelical equivalent was launching.
  • Late last year, buried at the bottom of a link list item, was the revelation that Mormon scripture translators were receiving assistance from Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Note: This article uses the term Mormon throughout. However in late Summer of 2018, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints announced they were distancing themselves from and fully jettisoning internal use of that term. See this CNN article.

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.