Mor­mon the name no more

Start­ing with famed choir, Utah-based church seeks a change

Albany Times Union - - FAITH & VALUES - By Brady Mc­combs

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.

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