Apostles or Apostates?

April 7, 2009

MORMON-TEMPLE/Chambers dictionary defines an apostate as “someone who rejects a religion, belief, political affiliation, etc. that they previously held.” So it’s easy to imagine the horror among Mormons if it were applied, even by mistake, by a Mormon-owned newspaper to the second-highest presiding group within the Mormon Church.

But that’s what happened at The Daily Universe, a newspaper at Brigham Young University.A photo caption in Monday’s edition read in part: “Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostates and other general authorities raise their hands in a sustaining vote…”

Er, make that “Apostles”.

The newspaper scrapped 18,000 copies (the entire printing) of its Monday edition after discovering the typo.

Its editors issued an apology and published an article to explain the error, which would have caused great offense in a school owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where students are required to behave in line with LDS teachings — from abstinence to dress and grooming standards.

The cause? Deadline pressure and the spell-checker, said Rich Evans, editorial manager for The Daily Universe.

“Our copy editor in charge of the front page, who was under deadline pressure, was using spell check on her page and had misspelled the word apostle,” Evans said.

“One of the first options that came up on InDesign’s spell check suggestions was the word apostate. Unfortunately that’s the one she clicked on. It still should have been caught by two more levels of review after that, but again with deadline looming, the worst possible thing happened.”

The corrected version was available later in the day.

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