Burnsville church changes its name because it sounded like conspiracy cult

People kept mistaking the Illumination Church for the Illuminati.
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A Burnsville church says it's recent name change was necessary to stop people confusing it with a global cult.

What was the Illumination Church is now Mercy Road Church, a step taken because a number of online users were mistaking it for the very-similar sounding "Illuminati."

If you're not familiar with the Illuminati, it's a secret society formed in 18th Century Germany for "enlightened" individuals, according to The Week.

More recently its existence has fueled conspiracy theories about an underground sect that secretly controls the world, and the name came to even greater prominence thanks to its inclusion in Dan Brown's bestseller "Angels and Demons."

This ultimately prompted the name change from what is now Mercy Road Church, with the church announcing the switch last month and providing an explainer for worshippers.

It said that there's a "growing" segment of online users who assume the church is affiliated with the Illuminati.

Meanwhile, a smaller number took the use of "Illumination" to mean it was linked to the Eckankar spiritual movement that is based out of Chanhassen.

"We don’t want our name to give a false impression to non-believers as we endeavor to share Christ with them," the church said. "We don’t want our name to hinder Christian transplants looking for a solid Bible-based church.

"We don’t want any real or perceived negative associations with our name to make it harder to accomplish the mission Christ gave us to go and make disciples.

"Although the name has been Biblical and a source of healing, recent years have revealed several emerging negative associations that now call into question the sustainability of the name"

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It's now the third name change in the church's almost 10-year history. It was founded as the Lifeprint Church, but changed its name to the Illumination Church after its founding pastor had a "very public moral failure."

As the Pioneer Press reports, that moral failure was that former Pastor John Erbele pleaded guilty to soliciting a prostitute.

Of the confusion about the Illuminati, Pastor Mike Lotzer told the PiPress that it was "kind of amusing at first," but eventually they were getting as many as five inquiries a day.

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