Mormon the name no more
Starting with famed choir, Utah-based church seeks a change
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will be singing the same tune but under a new name.
The choir has been renamed to get rid of the word Mormon in a move aimed at ending shorthand names for the religion that have been used for generations.
Calling it the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square refers to the home of the choir for 150 years at Temple Square on the grounds of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in downtown Salt Lake City.
In August, Church President Russell M. Nelson announced guidelines asking that people stop using “Mormon” or “LDS” as substitutes for the full name. He said “Latter-day Saints” was acceptable shorthand.
The faith holds that the full name was given by revelation from God to founder Joseph Smith in 1838, who was then living in Missouri. The term comes from the church’s scripture, the Book of Mormon, which followers believe is based on the record keeping of an ancient prophet named Mormon.
The Utah-based faith counts 16 million members worldwide. The renaming of the choir, which has began broadcasting a weekly radio program since 1929, is the first step with many changes to come. The choir of 360 men and women has performed worldwide and at inaugurations of U.S. presidents, including Donald Trump.
Choir President Ron Jarrett called the name change an opportunity for the choir to start a new chapter. “It is a huge brand for the church ... and people recognize it,” Jarrett said.
The church previously embraced and promoted the term Mormon, with a 2014 documentary about its members called “Meet the Mormons.” It ran “I’m a Mormon” ads on TV and billboards in 2010, aiming to dispel stereotypes with stories of individual members. And it tried once before to insist on the use of its full name — in 2001 ahead of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Paula Froke, lead editor for the Associated Press Stylebook, which many news outlets follow, said the AP is aware of the church’s guidelines and is monitoring how the names evolve in the church itself — including among members — and with the public. For now, the AP Stylebook entry about the faith remains unchanged.
Many church members have fond childhood memories of listening to the choir, affectionately dubbed as Motab.
Weeding out use of Mormon and LDS completely, though, is going to be difficult, said 32-year-old Chad Guertin of Magna, Utah. “you want to, you know you should, but it’s so habitual in how we’ve referred to ourselves for so long,” Guertin said.