I got my first CTR ring for my 12th Christmas. This was a monumental event in my young manhood. I would be getting my first “real” CTR ring and receiving the Aaronic priesthood within a one month period. I was thrilled to finally be upgrading from my adjustable CTR ring that turned my finger green to a sterling silver CTR ring. I wore my CTR ring everyday. Not only did my ring serve as a constant reminder of the importance of the principles of the gospel I had been taught since I was in the Primary, but it also served as a reminder if I was ever faced with temptation.
My CTR ring and I had been through thick and thin together. A lot came from this little simple piece of metal wrapped around my finger. I lost it several times (only to find it each time after fervent prayer), threw it away (and found it again), it served a 2 year mission in Spain, and even inspired a business selling CTR rings on the internet! My CTR ring definitely withstood the test of time as has the symbol throughout the LDS church. But how did such a prominent symbol of our faith come to be?
Our church has used the CTR ring as a symbol of faith for over 45 years. The letters, meaning Choose The Right, put on a green shield have a strong history and a meaning that goes much deeper than just a symbol for many of its 15 million members. Ever since the church started using “CTR” both on rings and in teaching manuals, it has grown to become a fashion statement and outward expression for those that bear the symbolic logo.
In the early 1970s, eight women assigned to a committee by the church coined the idea of the ring. Head of the committee, Noami W. Randall recommended that the church incorporate some kind of “badge of belief” into the doctrinal teachings for the boys and girls of the church.
Norma Nichols, also a member of the committee said, “Back then boys didn’t wear necklaces and earrings, so a ring seemed like a good idea.” The idea for the shield seemed a was thought of as to shield its bearers from temptation, and the green background of the shield was used to symbolize the evergreen tree – a tree that stays true to its appearance as the seasons change. Once the design was finalized, Coy Miles – then president of a Salt Lake City jewelry company was contracted to design the actual ring, while Joel Izatt was asked to create the artwork for the teaching materials.
In 1970, Gordon B. Hinckley who was an apostle of the church at the time, officially announced the new “CTR” curriculum in a church-wide conference. It was to be implemented as a part of the doctrine being taught to children ages 6 and 7. As part of the new program, each child of the church was given one of the new CTR rings, taught its symbolic meaning, and also taught how it can help them make the right decisions in life. Since then, the saying “Choose the Right” and its concepts have been taught to all the LDS primary aged children of the church.
Beyond its teachings in the church, the CTR symbol has been put on rings in over 40 different languages including pop-culture languages such as Klingon, Elvish and even Binary. Earrings, stationary, ties, bracelets, t-shirts and other apparel that bear the CTR shield have now become popular, especially amongst the youth of the church. Since the letters CTR inside a shield are a registered trademark of the LDS church, companies pay royalties in exchange for rights to use the symbol on their own memorabilia. Thousands of CTR rings are sold through online retailers as well as actual brick and mortar stores, even Walmart stores where church membership is prominent.
Members of the church throughout the world proudly wear their rings, shirts, and necklaces to show their commitment and devotion to the church, and to remind themselves to stand up for what is right. Symbolism within the church is found abundantly, but this symbol is one of the most meaningful in my life.