The venerable Mormon Tabernacle Choir has announced that it is now named “The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.” (Will newswriters trim that to “Tabernacle Choir”?)
Reason: President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has declared that “the importance of the name” that God “revealed for His Church,” means believers and outsiders must drop “Mormon” and use that full nine-word name. (Copyreaders will note: definite article with capital T, hyphen, lower-case d.)
Church scriptures say this name was given to founder Joseph Smith, Jr., on April 26, 1838, the same day God granted him “the keys of this kingdom.”
Nelson, a former surgeon who became Smith’s successor as prophet in January, even asserts that use of “Mormon” is "a major victory for Satan." He admits “it’s going to be a challenge to undo tradition of more than 100 years,” but change is “non-negotiable” because “the Lord wants it that way.”
The faith will lose something, because the “Mormon” people have long built up respect for their nickname through upright and neighborly living. Indeed, the church spent serious money on an image-boosting “Meet the Mormons” movie and “I’m a Mormon” ads.
The name game is a blame game that puts the media in a bind, as news executives said after Nelson’s August edict, so The Religion Guy adds some guidance to GetReligion’s prior article and this tmatt interview with an LDS journalism professor.
Obviously, The Guy gave this perennial problem considerable thought in co-authoring the book “Mormon America” with his late wife Joan.
The Associated Press Stylebook deems the long-ingrained “Mormon” label acceptable — although it originated with 19th Century antagonists — and was only gradually adopted by the believers themselves.
Since “Mormon” is no slur for 21st Century audiences, what’s going on here?