SALT LAKE CITY — The well-known Mormon Tabernacle Choir was renamed Friday to strip out the word Mormon in a move showing the faith’s new president is serious about ending shorthand names for the religion that have been used for generations by church members and previously promoted by the church.
The gospel singing group will now be called “The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement. It’s a nod to the home of the choir for the last 150 years, the Tabernacle, located on church grounds known as Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City.
Church President Russell M. Nelson announced guidelines in August requesting that people stop using “Mormon” or “LDS” as substitutes for the church’s full name. He said “Latter-day Saints” was acceptable shorthand.
The full church name was given by revelation from God to founder Joseph Smith in 1838, according to the faith’s beliefs. The term Mormon comes from the faith’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, which is based on the record keeping of an ancient prophet named Mormon, according to the faith’s beliefs.
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A church webpage about the term Mormon that was up before Nelson’s August announcement describes the term as an “unofficial but inoffensive nickname for members.”
But Nelson said in his August statement to urge people not to use Mormon or LDS that the “Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name he has revealed for his church.”
Speaking in Canada after his August announcement, Nelson acknowledged that it would be a “challenge to undo tradition of more than 100 years” but said the name of the faith is “not negotiable,” according to a video posted on a church website. He said church members need to use the proper name if they want outsiders to use it.
“We’re not changing names. We’re correcting a name,” Nelson said. “Some marketers change names hoping to be more successful — that’s not our point. We’re correcting an error that’s crept in over the ages.”