Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Why did Latterday-day Saints change brands? That news story (oh no) may be linked to doctrine

Why did Latterday-day Saints change brands? That news story (oh no) may be linked to doctrine

In the months since the leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the attempt to tone down use of the word “Mormon,” I have heard two questions over and over from people outside the Latter-day Saint fold.

Yes, that sentence was somewhat long and awkward, for obvious reasons.

Question No. 1: What are they going to call The Choir.

Question No. 2: Why did Latter-day Saints leaders take this step, at this moment in time, to change their brand?

If you are interested in that first question, a long, long feature story in The New York Times — “ ‘Mormon’ No More: Faithful Reflect on Church’s Move to Scrap a Moniker” — has a fabulous anecdote that shows up at the very end. Here we go:

For many Latter-day Saints, the most important cue came from the church’s iconic musical organization, known since 1929 as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The group was on tour in Los Angeles last year, singing in Disney Hall, when a bishop asked choir leaders to begin thinking about new names.

At first many performers felt “a little uptight” about the idea, said the group’s president, Ron Jarrett. … They mulled options: the Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City, the Tabernacle Choir in Utah, the Tabernacle Choir of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and finally landed on the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

Still, the group had to manage a swath of legal issues, like how to protect copyrights and recording labels all made under the former name. Products and recordings made before 2019 will maintain the previous legal name, but new ones will not.

“For me, it has been an opportunity to really evaluate who we are and what we stand for,” Mr. Jarrett said. “I was able to say, ‘I will follow a living prophet, and our music will remain the same.’”

The singers have retired their catchy nickname, the MoTabs. They are trying out a new one, Mr. Jarrett said: the TCats, or TabCats.

I think legions of headline writers would embrace that kind of short, catchy, option, should the church’s leaders come up with an unofficial official nickname. After all, you may recall that use of the “LDS” brand was also discouraged, along with the big change in the status of “Mormon.” The Times story notes the practical implications online:

The church’s longtime website,, now redirects to, and will soon switch over, too. In May, the church stopped posting on its @MormonChannel Instagram feed and encouraged followers to move to @ChurchofJesusChrist instead.

OK, but why did this change happen?

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The Washington Post team is surprised, it seems, that 'free agency' matters to Mormons

The Washington Post team is surprised, it seems, that 'free agency' matters to Mormons

They say politics makes strange, er, bedfellows.

Well, here’s proof: The Radio City Music Hall Rockettes and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will each -- and very much separately -- perform in Washington on Inauguration Day, January 20. And just as some Rockettes opted out of performing for President-elect Donald Trump’s celebrations, so, too, did one member of the “MoTab,” as the choir is informally known, decline.

Except the choir member, soprano Jan Chamberlin, did more than drop out of the Washington gig. She resigned from the choir itself, after five years in a much-sought-after position among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  who have exceptional musical abilities.

Chamberlin compared performing for the real estate mogul-turned-politician with someone “throwing roses [before] Hitler.” The choir’s acceptance of the invite filled her with conflicting emotions. Let’s drop in on how the Washington Post picked up the story:

Ever since “the announcement” -- as Chamberlin called it -- she has “spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony,” she wrote in a Facebook post that was no longer public by Friday evening. “I have reflected carefully on both sides of the issue, prayed a lot, talked with family and friends, and searched my soul. I’ve tried to tell myself that by not going to the inauguration, that I would be able to stay in Choir for all the other good reasons.”
Ultimately, though, Chamberlin decided that she could not stay in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The Salt Lake City Tribune [sic] reported that Chamberlin, a singer in the famed group, is resigning after learning that the choir would appear at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.
“I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events,” she wrote on Facebook. “I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect.”
Chamberlin wrote that by “singing for this man” the choir would appear to be “endorsing” tyranny and fascism, and its image would be “severely damaged.” Moreover, she wrote, it would leave many feeling betrayed, as she already did.

But everybody knows that each and every member of the LDS Church is a rock-ribbed, right-leaning Republican. Right?

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