Donald Trump and the Mammon of Unrighteousness

Although it is often hard to see when you are in the Intermountain West, the fact that Mormonism is and always has been a minority religion is worthy of consideration in understanding the quick retreat from a moral high ground that we’ve witnessed the church undergo in the last month and a half. Though we sing that we should always “Do what is right” and “Let the consequences follow,” our history, from the Manifesto onward, demonstrates a willingness to adapt to new political situations and to compromise strongly-held beliefs when the organization’s survival is on the line. I do not say this to accuse anyone of cowardice; when you are faced with extinction, a veritable ton of moral flexibility should be offered you. Perhaps the church believes that the Trump presidency could be such an existential threat and groveling should commence now.

Do not forget that our scriptural antecedents survived as long as they did by a combination of groveling, humiliation, and collaboration with the authorities. Both the Jews in Babylon and Egypt, as well as the surviving Pharisees in Palestine, made it their mission to gauge the political winds and to suck up to the right people. If history is written by the survivors, the survivors have a tendency to be the suck-ups.

This is a truth that we hate to acknowledge. There is no heroism or pride to be had in kneeling before an unjust ruler. In fact, probably the primary reason that the Jews failed to recognize Christ as the Messiah was because he did not appear as a powerful force, destined to right the world’s wrongs and create freedom, but rather as a relatively uneducated serf from Galilee, completely uninterested in the politics of the day. We love the idea of our leaders being bold men of action, but such men lead groups into conflict, revolution, and war. Perhaps we should honor the toadies, using their small amount of influence over the powerful to preserve their own, without which many people might be tossed aside or down some pit.

Christ saw this (or someone speaking in his name did). In Luke 16, we read the parable of the unjust steward, which reads as follows in the KJV:

1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
5 So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

A dishonest steward, knowing he is about to be fired, writes off the debts owed his master in order to find a job in the future. This is duplicitous and unethical, but as Christ notes: “the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Toadying up means survival, which isn’t nothing. Christ then commands, “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness.” You cannot keep yourself entirely unsullied or without spot in this world; make sure you sin as wisely as possible. And, frankly, whatever else he represents, no-one represents the Mammon of Unrighteousness quite so successfully today as does Trump.

So perhaps we should not judge the leadership in Salt Lake City too harshly. This latest act doesn’t just undermine any moral authority they may have had on issues ranging from religious freedom to civil liberties, poverty reduction to common human decency; it also may guarantee the survival of the church in an era where the wrath of an over-powerful, under-rational, and completely undisciplined President might at any moment choose any means available to destroy perceived disloyalty on a whim. We did it in Nazi Germany; I don’t know why I’m surprised we’re doing it here.

Comments

  1. I’m finding I’m pretty depressed about the whole thing. This article didn’t cheer me up much, although I can’t disagree with it either. I’m not sure how much lower my relationship with church leadership can sink though. Seriously. This is just embarrassing.

    And I keep reading members of the church in favor of the event telling those of us who aren’t to ‘just grow up’ and ‘just get over yourself.’ We are all failing in some very basic tenants of Christianity here.

  2. Guys, I love the Mormon blogosphere and I need it to help me focus on the diverse aspects of this beautiful, quirky church, but this borders on illogical and we just don’t need any more of it on the interwebs. I really, really don’t want to unfollow you, but come on. Capping an argument off with a comparison to Nazis? Check. Willful grouping of the leadership of the church into a single-minded, conspiratorial conclave? Check. Invocation of various doomsday scriptural references to lend your feeble conclusion the gravitas it cannot naturally attain? Check. Intellectual laziness at its finest. You should leave this stuff to the internet trolls, they do it so much better. Without even having the guts to say so directly, you are trying to hang a single choir performance around the leadership’s neck as a forsaking of Christian morality, and this is so lame. The lowest of low-hanging fruit. I really don’t want to leave this group of thinkers but you’re making me so tired with this hysterical junk. We as a people have better things to do with our brains than the concatenation of musical numbers with survival.

  3. It’s hard to find the right tone in talking about the threat that Trumpism presents. You don’t want to imagine the worst, but when you pay attention to what Trump and his followers actually say and do, you can’t avoid it. This is how it starts, and it’s happening here. Dismissing this discussion as “hysterical junk” is a mistake, even though it makes you really uncomfortable.

    Even so, this post is not the kind of conversation that we need. I take it to be a sarcastic, despairing, deliberate misinterpretation of the parable. We are called to be a light to the world. I do not accept that either the Mormon Church or the United States has become incapable of being that light.

  4. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing at the inauguration is the Church groveling to the Trump administration? Is that what this post is saying?

  5. Gary Barton Payne says:

    I commend you for writing a brilliant piece. However I wonder if you and all of your fellow Travellers who opposed the decision form Motab to perform at the inauguration might have considered the fact that the Lord himself is at the head of this church and he has called and you have sustained 15 incredibly brilliant men to administer his kingdom here on the Earth
    As bright as you are I don’t recall ever having held my right hand to the square to sustain you to administer the Lord’s Kingdom on the Earth. Until such time as that event occurs my counsel to you would be to sustain the brother in in the decisions that they pronounce

  6. Antonio Parr says:

    The Church has vowed to remain politically neutral.

    The Church has in the past accepted any and all invitations to sing at an inaugural event for the president of the United States of America.

    Had President Obama invited the MoTab to sing, they would have sung. (And all would have been well in Blogosphere Zion.)

    Had a President Hilary Clinton invited the MoTab to sing, they would have sung. (And all would have been well in Blogosphere Zion.)

    President-Elect Donald Trump has invited the MoTab to sing, and they have agreed to do so. (And all is not well in Blogosphere Zion.)

    Bottom Line – the author of this admittedly well constructed post wants the Church to abandon political neutrality. But only if that abandonment results in the support of the author’s political world view.

    Everybody loves to see justice done to somebody else. However, in this case, as in the past, the Church has preserved its political neutrality, which ultimately protects us all, conservative and liberal and in between. Justice for all.

    Come next April and in between, our leaders will continue to espouse the Christ-like virtues that so often were lacking in our President-Elect’s campaign and rhetoric. Perhaps somewhere along the road, people will listen.

    There are still prophetic voices leading our Church. Let’s continue to pray for them and leaders of every kind, and do our part by striving to walk the path that the Master has shown.

  7. Professor Lockhart says:

    I’m pretty sure we need to understand the phrase “everlasting habitation” to unlock the secret of this parable.

    It was clearly an ancient attempt to describe a perpetuity and the Savior was teaching that to be wise the children of light needed to be financial planners. He foresaw our day of bankers and hedge fund managers.

    So the discounted debt could really be seen as the net present value of the discounted cash flows in a deflationary environment. Amazing that the Lord was telling them what would happen to their currency valuation so they should innovate new financial instruments!

  8. Wait, I thought participating in an event is endorsing the lifestyle of the celebrant(s). Either baking a cake (off-site) is endorsement or it’s not. Either singing (on-site) at an event is an endorsement or it’s not. A little consistency in our religious-liberty rhetoric would be appreciated. Neither is the end of the world – but one is a much more visible and hypocritical statement of support for something/one we have recently officially condemned in editorials.

  9. Professor Lockhart says:

    The key to this parable really seems to be the last half which isn’t quoted.

    8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
    9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
    10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
    11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
    12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
    13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

    The servant was commend. Is it because the master didn’t know the servant cooked the books? That seems strange advice.

    It’s especially strange considering the follow-up advice that talks about being faithful in the least of unrighteous Mammon not receiving true riches.

    So God is telling us to do business, but to be honest about it. And that we can never let it be our master.

    I think we miss the point if we talk about making friends that will help us temporally through unseemly deals.

    Fame is a fickle friend Motab. Celebrity is as celebrity does. Remember that.

  10. Either baking a cake (off-site) is endorsement or it’s not. Either singing (on-site) at an event is an endorsement or it’s not. A little consistency in our religious-liberty rhetoric would be appreciated.

    Ok, let’s start with yours. In what sense does a butcher, a baker or candlestick maker represent a worldwide organization with millions of members the same way the Choir represents the Church?

    I don’t recall ever having held my right hand to the square to sustain you to administer the Lord’s Kingdom on the Earth. Until such time as that event occurs my counsel to you…

    Brother Payne, you should have stopped while you were ahead. It won’t do to invoke respect for priesthood keys and authority on one hand and then proceed to lecture people who are in nowise under your stewardship on the other.

  11. Antonio Parr, the history of the Choir’s performances shows they all have several things in common. Let’s assume that the first is an invitation, though I have no particular knowledge of that. Apparently the Choir has accepted all of them, and I suppose this is a good and gracious thing. If this is the case, however, it means that the Choir has only received invitations from presidents-elect who carried Utah in the respective presidential elections. In 1964 that was a Democrat, LBJ, back in the olden days before abortion when lots of Mormons who were likewise Democrats weren’t expected to keep quiet about it and leave it to the Republicans to bring politics into the lessons. These performances, then, do not suggest to me a vision of studied nonpartisanship but a reflection of normal human nature to celebrate with the victor one supported when the chips were down.

  12. I think Chad has a point to the extent that those who insist that this is not an endorsement are hypocritical if they also think that baking a cake for a gay wedding is an outstanding if gay marriage.

    Peter is right that there is a difference between the two. That difference more fully condemns singing at the inauguration and justifies it not at all.

  13. Antonio Parr says:

    Peter –

    Had Hilary – who is pro-choice- won and invited MoTab to sing, MoTab would have sung. Not as an endorsement of her position on abortion or an endorsement of her husband’s sexual excesses or an endorsement of her less than candid responses to the email problem. Instead it would be a part-gracious gesture and part celebration of the process of democracy which allies ordinary people to have a say as to who governs.

    Hilary lost. Donald won. They have been invited, and said “yes.” Why is this any different than the Hilsry scenario?

    Donald won, much to the disappointment of many (including me). It is the new reality. Like it or not, we need to pray for his success,the softening of his heart, and for peace and prosperity to prevail. Bringing the glorious rounds of a sacred choir might be a good way to start.

  14. Why is this any different than the Hillary scenario?

    The good news about Secretary Clinton for all those who abhor abortion is that she doesn’t actually perform abortions. The bad news about the president-elect for those who abhor assault on women and religious freedom is that he actually assaults women and religious freedom. Of course, pray for peace, prosperity and civility. And while you’re at it, take a stand for peace, prosperity and civility by refraining from endorsing a man who has stoked populist fear mongering and pledged to assault civil liberties.

  15. Survival of the church? Really? Because what threatens to destroy them? What danger do they face? Please explain your basic premise which assumes they face some sort of extinction unless they team up with the President Elect.

  16. The choir should never have participated in an pay inauguration. It was always support of a candidate, a particular politician, which is something a church should not do. Sensitivity to this issue is higher now than ever, but the concern is the same. Old wrongs should not be cited as precedent for more wrongs.

  17. Antonio Parr says:

    The Church did not endorse Trump. Moreover, the Deseret News came out with an editorial that was a not-so-thinly-veiled attack against him. Everyone knows that many of Trump’s positions and his bombastic style don’t play well with Mormons. That is no secret. But Trump is now just days away from being the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, and it would be contrary to the Church’s mandate to be a light to the world to say “no” to an opportunity to play a part in softening the man’s heart. The worth of souls is great. Even Trump’s.

    The MoTab has, many times, lifted my spirit and mind with their music. Here’s hoping that they have a similar ennobling impact upon Trump.

  18. Elizabeth St Dunstan says:

    To those who remark that abstaining would break with political neutrality, let’s remember that the church breaks with political neutrality often. In this election cycle the church released a statement directly opposing and in direct response to one of the president-elect’s policy proposals and also came out publicly against legislation that would permit assisted death and marijuana. The most famous example from a past election cycle is the church’s strong lobbying against prop 8 in California.

    Church leadership reserves the right to break with political neutrality when it sees a moral issue at stake. What some of us here are currently left wondering is why the leadership doesn’t see the current situation as a moral issue. John C. is attempting to understand this through scripture, and that is his prerogative. It doesn’t help anyone when we start questioning each other’s dedication to the Q15 or calling each other unfaithful. Some of us maintain our faith by trying to understand that with which we disagree. If that’s not part of your process that’s fine, but please don’t seek to quash this process in others.

  19. There wouldn’t be so much as a peep of protest from the academic parapets if it were Hillary’s inauguration. And I have to understand exactly how the Clintons are less wicked than the Trumps.

  20. I have *yet* to understand…

  21. To Lindsey:

    Amen!

  22. The worth of souls is great. Even Trump’s.

    True, but that’s not the reason the Choir sings at inaugurals, so it’s a bit of a red herring, I’m afraid.

  23. Chad,
    I will explain your inconsistency of logic.
    1. Baking a cake is an endorsement, albeit mild, of the celebration of the wedding. The abomination is that an individual baker is forced to do so, contrary to his religious beliefs. Both the event and the lifestyle of the participants being celebrated are immoral.
    2. The MTC singing at the presidential inauguration is a big time endorsement, of the peaceful transition of power. This is what the choir is celebrating. The event is completely and explicitly moral and endorsed by scripture. The participant is President Trump. His inauguration is a celebration? of his successful campaign. His #1 campaign message was “Make America Great Again”. Many people took that as a shot against President Obama, but there are other possible interpretations that the church and MTC could wholeheartedly endorse.
    Also, the MTC and any other performing group is completely free to decline. Many lefty and/or spineless entertainers have made that point also. There is a wide gulf in your finding of logical parallels.

  24. Would Jesus sing at the inauguration?

  25. The MTC singing at the presidential inauguration is a big time endorsement, of the peaceful transition of power. This is what the choir is celebrating.

    This is charming in its earnest sincerity.

  26. Back to the OP, it occurs to me that a short version (without some of the inflammatory words–“groveling”, “suck-up”) is that the Church as an institution has a long history of practicing situational ethics. In church-state relations there seem to be no core principles, no rock bottom right or wrong. (Unless “survival” is touted as a core principle.) There’s only the current situation. With no apologies when the situation and the response changes.

  27. “The MTC singing at the presidential inauguration is a big time endorsement, of the peaceful transition of power. This is what the choir is celebrating.”

    At any other inauguration, I’d agree with this. But Trump’s inauguration has a much larger moral element Because other artists have come out and said they won’t participate on moral grounds. Whether we like it or not, whether it is right or now, artists going public changes the dynamic around the inauguration.

  28. Let’s get one thing straight. This isn’t about political neutrality. I’m fine with the choir singing at Richard Nixon’s inauguration, or George W. Bush’s, or LBJ’s, or Ronald Reagan’s, or Jimmy Carter’s, or Barack Obama’s. But Donald Trump is an animal of a different sort. He is a confessed sexual predator, a man who has been accused of rape multiple times, a pathological liar, a narcissist of the highest order, a racist, a bigot, a man who is determined to not understand complex issues but offer simplistic and wrongheaded solutions. He ran an ugly, hate-filled campaign. The LDS Church has no business pretending this is some sort of normalcy and therefore supporting it with the same gusto they’ve exhibited with past presidents. This is supporting a reprehensible human being who does not have a shred of decency or moral fiber in him. The Church should distance itself from this hateful, bigoted, power-crazed oligarch in every way possible. This isn’t about politics. It’s about morality.

  29. Antonio Parr says:

    Wally –

    Is Trump beyond redemption? Should prophets and priests and preachers all count him as a lost soul and move on? Or, with love unfeigned, do we try to preach/sing to him the good news of the Gospel, in the hopes that his heart will be touched the way our hearts have been touched?

    If anyone needs to hear the songs of freedom and Zion, it is President-elect Trump. Here’s hoping that the beauty and power of the MoTab opens Trump’s heart and mind to the God of love and light.

  30. “Here’s hoping that the beauty and power of the MoTab opens Trump’s heart and mind to the God of love and light.” Good one.

    I am embarrassed that the choir has agreed to sing as if this is another normal candidate, another normal presidency, nothing to see here, implying Mormons have no issue with his appointment of white supremacists and his boasts of sexual assault. I mean, we don’t exactly have a fantastic track record on these two fronts anyway, for all our preaching to the contrary, so perhaps it really is just business as usual for the Mormon church. I’m just dismayed and embarrassed to think so.

  31. Donald Trump will have to listen to the performances, right? If so, I’ll be slightly comforted by the fact that he’ll have to spend his Inauguration Day listening to a group representing a religion that he despises. On the other hand he’ll probably try to tone them out by spending the whole tweeting about how hurt his feeling are that they couldn’t get a band that he liked to perform.

  32. “we try to preach/sing to him the good news of the Gospel, in the hopes that his heart will be touched the way our hearts have been touched?”

    Unless they planning on singing something like “The Spirit of God” or “The Lord is my Light” it seems farfetched that he will have his heart touched with the good news of the gospel. More likely, if he is touched, it will be by patriotism as they will be singing a patriotic song.

  33. I’m not sure how I feel about this post, because I think it might be accurate and that’s disheartening. But I agree completely with Elizabeth St Dunstan’s comment. This is different from other inaugurations because Trump is different from other presidents-elect. I would have liked to see the Church choose this as one of the rare moments to break its standard political neutrality, and I’m saddened that it did not.

  34. You are forgetting the 2d rule of American Conservatism: It’s okay if a Republican does it.

  35. I have to agree with Lindsey here. I normally love reading the thoughtful articles on this and other sites, but post election reading has been tiresome. The Trump presidency could be an “existential threat” to Mormonism? That type of paranoia reminds me of Oakes’ never ending talks about religious freedom.

    Look, I don’t like Trump. His moral character is very low in my opinion. But mormons on the left need to understand that there are mormons on the right that are damn good people and happen to support Trump because they believe he will make political decisions that align closer to their own than Hillary would.

    If Hillary would have won and invited MoTab to sing at the inauguration they would have accepted. An inauguration is a celebration of our country and the peaceful transfer of power that we are blessed to have. Let the choir do what they do best (sing), not expect them to be some political arm of the LDS church.

    Perhaps many on the bloggernacle are still in post election mourning and that is clouding judgment. I don’t know, but I sure hope this Trump hysteria doesn’t last all 4 (maybe 8?) years.

  36. To those who think that Trump is far less moral than previous presidents and think that this should be grounds for rejecting the invitation to perform, I say Wake Up! One commenter above listed a plethora of negative characteristics that I thought were requirements to be a democrat presidential nominee, based upon recent history, and then says that now that Trump is in, boycott the inauguration.
    Many of the artists who are now declining to perform have exhibited many of the same or similar moral failings listed above. The church will certainly not take cues from such low authority.
    If Hillary had won, the moral repugnance that many feel for her crimes would be pronounced as well. I feel certain that the MTC would have performed if an invitation had been forthcoming in that situation.

  37. anon for now says:

    The Church doesn’t take a stand on the vast majority of issues that separate Republicans and Democrats. Tax rates, the best way to structure our health care system, the proper relationship between federal and state governments, most issues of foreign policy–on almost all of it, good, faithful latter day saints can and do disagree. Put simply, Harry Reid and Mike Lee can both be active members.

    But Donald Trump is openly talking about having the government make a religious registry and then officially discriminate against millions of people based on it. He’s talking about curtailing the rights of the press. He’s talking about jailing political opponents. He’s talking about using roving immigration squads to tear families apart. These are all things that the Church is openly, unquestionably opposed to. And these are all things that could very easily be used against us too someday.

    If Ted Cruz or Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton or Mike Huckabee had won–great, let the MoTab sing. Because these are all people who stood for things that fit somewhere inside of the remarkably broad spectrum of possible American ideals that that the Church can stay neutral on. But Trump is talking about things that aren’t really American and which are very definitely at odds with what the Church has said it stands for.

    So if the Church isn’t going to take a stand here…when is it, exactly? And what’s the point of having all those militaristic hymns and scriptures and paintings everywhere in our churches if we’re going to stay silent when the very ability to practice one’s religion itself is under attack?

    I mean…put all else aside. He’s talking about creating religious registries. That’s the sort of thing that we used to think was pretty scary. I just can’t fathom what all of you soothsayers are thinking that allows you to think this is somehow within the realm of the normal, let alone for our choir to be used as a prop at a ceremony that is celebrating his ascent to power. This is appalling.

  38. anon for now says:

    And putting the domestic part of it aside for a moment. I work a lot in the Middle East. All of you apologists may be comfortable with that really fine distinction you’re drawing that allows singing at Trump’s inauguration to somehow not be seen as an endorsement of him. Ok, great–you can get there if you think about it in that really particular way.

    But a lot of people around the world aren’t so attuned to such subtlety. For a lot of Muslims around the world, they think Donald Trump hates them and is their enemy (and–admit it–he has given them plenty of reason to think so). And now our church’s most visible asset will be seen in video footage forever more singing at what most people will see as the celebration of him.

    Think about the downstream impact that this could have. Imagine a Church representative going to a foreign leader in, say, Egypt or Jordan, and asking for permission to hold church services or even send missionaries. You think they’re not going to remember this? And if that particular government official somehow missed it, someone will remind them (youtube will help). Or, closer to the ground, imagine missionaries out tracting someplace with a lot of Muslims–the Phillipines, say, or certain parts of America. They meet a muslim family and then try convincing them that our people can be friends. But the Choir…the Choir… At that point, whoever it is that we’re trying to befriend, do you really think they’re going to be assuaged by subtle arguments about how “we were just honoring the peaceful transfer of power…”? Of course not. They’re going to see a man who hated them and wanted to oppress them, and then they’re going to see our choir singing to him. This could set Muslim/Mormon relations back immeasurably. And for what, exactly? What good comes out of this that is worth that cost?

  39. Utahn in CT says:

    Mormons are not toadying up to Trump out of a concern for survival. Those who are doing this have, like many Americans, abandoned the moral imperative to apply reason and civic consciousness to their wider role in the world.

  40. I assume tithing money is being used for this MoTab fiasco and public relations disaster.

  41. About the existential threat thing: setting aside that most of his Christian advisors don’t consider us Christian and wouldn’t mind us disappearing entirely and that many of his constituents consider us only slightly more trustworthy than they consider Muslims, I was suggesting that something like an existential threat must be out there to explain the retreat from their stance on Trump. I’m perfectly happy to hear alternate reasons for the church’s reversal on Trump (or willingness to court the perception of a reversal, if you insist).

  42. I guess I just believe that in four years I will have the freedom to go to my church on Sunday like I always have. And whether the Church is stronger or weaker will have nothing to do with Trump. What’s he going to do, get rid of all the Mormon meeting houses and replace them with Casinos?

    All joking aside, when you talk of a reversal on the church’s stance on Trump, you must be referring to their response after his talk about banning muslims from entering the country. I can’t think of any other times they got involved. Trump has backed off a bit on that talk, but if he tried to do something like that I think the Church would fight back hard.

    Maybe MoTab at the inaug is a gesture of the church saying hey you won the election, you’re going to be president, we will be praying for you, we hope you make wise decisions in office. I wouldn’t take it much farther than that. I definitely don’t think the church is scrambling for future survival here.

  43. I definitely don’t think the church is scrambling for future survival here.

    Neither do I, which is why they can afford to take a principled stand–or at least one that takes into account the fact they represent more than just the state of Utah.

  44. Eli wrote, “Whether the Church is stronger or weaker will have nothing to do with Trump.”

    Actually, whether the Church is stronger or weaker will have a lot to do with how the members of the Church respond to Trump. It’s up to us, not him. It will probably be pretty easy for the mostly white, mostly Republican members of the Church to go with the flow. When other people are suffering, it’s easy to tell yourself that there’s just nothing you can do. Whether we emerge from this stronger or weaker will depend on whether we face this crisis with integrity, both as individuals and collectively. The Choir’s participation in the inaugural is a really bad start.

  45. BCC conscience says:

    It’s awful ironic to watch the exact same people who lauded the rawnchy BOM musical put down the MoTab for singing at a presidential inauguration. This event belongs to the nation , Trump is the major actor and planner, but this is about our nation. But the irony of the open minded berating Trump, while they berate the Real Mormons for avoiding Miley Cyrus and r rated movies. I sometimes wonder about the people who feel themselves so much more enlightened than their fellow tbm saints who can’t pick up on these ironies… Are they really that stupid? Or are they just trying to get attention by saying stupid things?

  46. they berate the Real Mormons for avoiding Miley Cyrus and r rated movies.

    You must have missed this post where I berate Real Mormons for watching Deadpool.

    Anyway, you are missing the point, I’m afraid. The two posts on this issue–out of the 7000 BCC has put out over the years–are not putting the Choir down. On the contrary, in my post I appealed to the Choir’s gospel mission and admirable track record to urge it to refrain from stooping to the level of celebrating a man whose life would require a filter to watch if one cared about the counsel that the prophets, seers and revelatory have shared over the pulpit–repeatedly–over the years.

  47. Or are they just trying to get attention by saying stupid things?

    You’ll never guess what posts attract the most attention. Hint: it’s not the devotional ones. It’s a little disappointing, actually, that commenters like you take so little interest in such things.

  48. Trump is a sociopath. He isn’t going to be redeemed by listening to the MoTab. I think it’s nice that they are going to sing but it will be for the people, not for Trump personally. We can pray for a sociopath but our prayers are not likely to change him. J. Reuben Clark was in the First Presidency as Hitler was rising. He thought he’d be fine. He was wrong. Dead wrong.

  49. BCC conscience says:

    “You’ll never guess what posts attract the most attention. Hint: it’s not the devotional ones. It’s a little disappointing, actually, that commenters like you take so little interest in such things.”
    Perhaps Peter, we have different definitions of devotional…

  50. I don’t expect that BCC will float all boats, but people aren’t even looking at the devotional posts to determine if they square with their definitions of devotional.

    The stats show that it’s not even close–devotional posts routinely get a fraction of the views of a post like this. Looking at the numbers for Christmas Day 2016, it’s no different. Despite this post and mine on MoTab being old news by now, and with four devotional posts above them on the home page, and it being Christmas Day, the two MoTab posts were each viewed twice as often as, for example, the newer post entitled “Last Christmas.”

    I reckon it’s important to hold BCC’s feet to the fire from time to time, but let’s not lose sight of the big picture here.

  51. To Lindsey and Antonio, amen. Just because the MoTab is singing at the inauguration does not mean they endorse the candidate. They would have sung at Hilary Clinton’s inauguration as well if they had been asked. Come on!

  52. The Church does take political stands. And I for one would appreciate them acting as the watchmen on the tower that they are supposed to be. Glenn Beck was reigned in too late. The damage is done and it was years in the making. They should have seen this radio hate talk business demonizing the other side, long ago and spoke out before it went too far. I actually had a friend tell me that the protests going on after the election weren’t real because the democrats being funded by George Soros had planned this and were paying the protestors. Now that’s terrifying. Get good people to think that what they are seeing isn’t real and they will do nothing.
    And that’s all it takes for evil triumph is good people doing nothing. There are lots of people in my ward who don’t subscribe to a local newspaper or any legitimate newspaper because the left wing conspiracy controls it. They have their own news sources which tell them what is really true.
    This has gone far enough. Church Headquarters listen up! It’s time to say something because church members, who think they are discerning correctly because they have the gift of the Holy Ghost, are being led off course.

  53. Jadis of Charn says:

    One can usually count on BCC to be right in the thick of thin things. The recent MoTab discussion serves nicely as an example.

    As for me, what I really want to know is: will Donald Trump speak the Deplorable Word during his inauguration speech? Will he? Many here seem quite certain. Can’t wait to find out.

  54. “The good news about Secretary Clinton for all those who abhor abortion is that she doesn’t actually perform abortions. The bad news about the president-elect for those who abhor assault on women and religious freedom is that he actually assaults women and religious freedom. Of course, pray for peace, prosperity and civility. And while you’re at it, take a stand for peace, prosperity and civility by refraining from endorsing a man who has stoked populist fear mongering and pledged to assault civil liberties.”

    Peter, you said that so, so perfectly. Thank you.

  55. vajra2: bingo — that 2nd rule means everything for explaining events in the last 15 years, including everything about Trump (and his cronies Gingrich, Giuliani, Bannon, Ailes, etc.).

  56. el oso, Hillary Clinton has not committed any crimes. The fact that you think she has only testifies to the success of the GOP’s decades-long smear campaign against her based not on facts but on sinister innuendo and conspiracy theories originating in tabloids and then laundered, in the age of social media, through fake news that the boomer generation of conservatives thinks is real news as opposed to the actual real news that is still being reported in reputable newspapers.

    As to the administration of President Obama, it has been morally upright and President Obama himself is a prime example of a moral, upstanding American whom anyone would be well served in emulating. The difference with Donald Trump could not be more pronounced. The fact the Church is not taking a stand against Trump is amazing. Trump is a serial adultery committing, pornography promoting casino magnate who has openly boasted about being able to and having actually sexually assaulted women by grabbing their genitals or kissing them without consequence because of his fame and wealth. Of course he has also announced the greatest direct threat to religious freedom that has perhaps ever been voiced by an American politician since nineteenth-century atrocities committed by both state and federal governments. So much for the inchoate and indirect “threats” to religious freedom that Elder Oaks is constantly theorizing about, which he apparently sees arising generally from “secular” society. We are now talking about a direct, promised threat to religious freedom unprecedented in our Republic in modern times. But the target of the threat is “Mooslums” so Mormons who self describe themselves as “conservative” don’t have too much of a problem with it — because we *think* we are in the in-crowd with the Evangelical Christian segment of society as our erstwhile culture war allies. In reality, they want us on such lists as much as they want Mooslums on them.

  57. “But Donald Trump is openly talking about having the government make a religious registry and then officially discriminate against millions of people based on it. He’s talking about curtailing the rights of the press. He’s talking about jailing political opponents. He’s talking about using roving immigration squads to tear families apart. These are all things that the Church is openly, unquestionably opposed to. And these are all things that could very easily be used against us too someday. . . .

    “So if the Church isn’t going to take a stand here…when is it, exactly? And what’s the point of having all those militaristic hymns and scriptures and paintings everywhere in our churches if we’re going to stay silent when the very ability to practice one’s religion itself is under attack?”

    anon for now (Dec. 23, 4:53pm), this is so well said — a great way to succinctly summarize the issues here.

  58. Eli, on the same day you posted that, Trump said, regarding his plan for the Muslim registry, “You know what I am planning to do.” He has not backed off.

  59. Yes, Loursat is correct — what we as Mormons do in the Age of Trump says everything about us and nothing about Trump himself. And we’re starting from behind, since such huge numbers of temple-recommend-holding Mormons voted for him instead of standing up to him and showing him what we think of his immorality by very visibly showing him the door. How glorious it would have been if Utah’s six electors had gone *anywhere* else but to him. But no. We did not do that. And we must now own it — own that we enabled him together with many other completely immoral people who did not find his boasting about sexual assault or his grinding the face of the poor or his inveterate dishonesty an absolute deal breaker.

  60. BCC Conscience: r-rated movies depict naughty parts in a *fictional* setting. Donald Trump has, in real life, promoted real-life pornography (i.e. where people are, in real life, on video, committing sexual acts), is a real-life casino purveyor, has, in real life, *boasted* that he can sexually assault, and that he has in fact sexually assaulted, women without consequence because of his wealth and fame, has been demonstrated to have repeatedly, over the course of his career, blatantly ripped off the working man (construction and hospitality workers, small businesses, contractors) by not paying them their wages or contractually agreed payments. For someone claiming to be the supposedly missing “conscience” of the BCC website, you sure seem to be *completely* morally vacuous and entirely without a moral compass. Pretty brave to comment as an anonymous troll to criticize people you disagree with on the internet.

  61. “The Church has vowed to remain politically neutral.”

    No, it has not.

    “The Church has in the past accepted any and all invitations to sing at an inaugural event for the president of the United States of America.”

    I keep seeing people assert this. But, as far as I can tell, there is no evidence to support the assertion. And, significantly, the Church and the Choir have *not* made this assertion or supported it, to my knowledge. Perhaps someone can point me to evidence to support the assertion, if there is any.

    I also keep seeing the assertion that the swearing-in ceremony for a new President is not a ceremony for that individual, but for the United States. As far as I can tell, this assertion is also complete hogwash, invented after the predictable backlash against the Choir and Church for accepting Trump’s last-resort invitation after he had exhausted every other possible performer invitation, with every other singer and group in the world having higher moral and ethical standards that the LDS Church and its Choir. Ah, but I’m forgetting, it’s not the Church’s choir. It’s “America’s Choir.” And, since America has no moral or ethical standards anymore, why should its choir?

  62. The meaning of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s participation in presidential inaugurations has changed over the years, as the Church’s place in American culture has changed. When the Choir sang for presidents fifty years ago and more, it was a chance for Mormons to claim a place in America. If you are old enough, you can remember how desperately we wanted acceptance. The hope that one day we would not be seen as freaks is what the made the Choir such an important institution in the Church. The Choir was one of the few Mormon things that didn’t seem weird to the cultural mainstream.

    About twenty-five years ago, we crossed an invisible threshold and became part of the mainstream. Post-Romney, we are insiders. When you’re an insider, everything about your participation in politics changes.

    Presidential inaugurations have always been political events. To participate in a political event and at the same time claim political neutrality was always a fine line to walk. We could do it in the old days because nobody really cared about us—we were politically powerless and culturally marginalized. Just showing up was a victory in our private battles. Now things have changed. The Mormon Church hasn’t taken over the world, but we are no longer irrelevant. We can’t go on doing the same old things and claim to be politically neutral. We have to find the right ways to be neutral in the new reality. With the Trump inauguration, we are behind the curve.

  63. BCC conscience says:

    John f… If that is you real first name and last initial…

    Somehow I must have missed the parts in prophetic discussion on the fictional excuse… I guess it’s good that you’re able to authoritatively put words in prophet’s mouths, at least when it suits your agenda.

    I will humbly CFR on the claim that ” Donald Trump has as admitted we do to sexually assaulting women” sounds like a fake claim lacking truth.

    And perhaps while you are on your moral high horse for claiming to not be anonymous you can post your address and phone number, ya know to prove you’re not anonymous… We’ll see how safe that is.

    Anyone who stands up to the echo chamber of BCC is brave, anonymous or not.

    I’ve lost too many friends to apostasy caused by your ilk to not state as differing opinion.

    Regards,

  64. “Anyone who stands up to the echo chamber of BCC is brave, anonymous or not.”

    I don’t know what other alter egos you may have used here, but you have not been banned or even modded as “BCC conscience.” What other kinds of persecution does BCC have on tap?

  65. Donald Trump boasted that he has sexually assaulted women by grabbing their genitals and kissing them without consent and that he could do this without consequence because of his wealth and fame. This is not a fake claim. He is on tape saying these things. It is a fact.

  66. BCC conscience says:

    Peterllc, I have no clue what you are talking about. I have not used the word persecution, so I just don’t follow…

    John f, I’d suggest you brush up on you reading comprehension (exegesis) rather than your dog-whistle (eisegesis) skills. I just reviewed the transcript at wapo to be sure, and without bringing in the inappropriate specifics, Trump mentioned what one could (hypothetically) do, he did not say (I did this) an admission. Some of us understand this genre of talk as bravado, falsely insinuating what one can do. Apparently you choose to not understand that different people can have different Genres.

    His statement is still not defensible, of course. It’s crass and terrible, just like the BOM musical, which again, BCC on the whole loves. However, the continued hysteria, hypocrisy, and irony in the left will make AN second term more likely… IOW, grow up…. Accept that Hilary Clinton was very flawed and corrupt…. Help conservatives keep Trump in line constitutionally by focusing on what he is actually doing rather than what you fear. And possibly come up with a better candidate instead of trying to destroy the Constitution and the electoral college just because your corrupt candidate lost.

  67. Sheesh, “BCC conscience,” you’re barely coherent. Maybe you need some rest? Reading your comments is like listening to Trump speak.

    Actually, I think you’re slightly more coherent than Trump.

    BCC conscience for President!

  68. Peterllc, I have no clue what you are talking about. I have not used the word persecution, so I just don’t follow…

    Don’t self-described martyrs feel like they are being persecuted? I was responding to your view that standing up in the BCC echo chamber is an act of bravery. But since we’re a website with an optional commenting function and not, say, a totalitarian police state or an armed intruder in your living room, I don’t get it, especially since no one is moderating your comments.

    It’s crass and terrible, just like the BOM musical, which again, BCC on the whole loves.

    I’m going to go out on a very sturdy limb–more like a load-bearing beam, actually–and suggest that you have misread the people behind BCC. I’ve never seen it myself and have no desire to do so, and in response to the review–written by a guest–those who were part of BCC at the time were mostly skeptical.

  69. “BCC conscience,” you’re wrong of course about the sexual assault being hypothetical. Mr. Trump says it is something he *does* without consent: “I just start kissing…I don’t even wait.”

  70. We all just see what we want to see, don’t we. And the wheel spins on…

  71. BCC conscience says:

    A study of confirmation bias…

    Reread the Transcript. Trump never admitted to sexual assault.

    Again. Reread the transcript, know what the phrase “confirmation bias”, and reread the transcript.

    However, if as trial shows that he actually did the things he claimed to find good, I’d have no problem helping impeach him… There’s just this pesky constitutional problem of presumed innocence until proven guilty of specific circumstances that liberals only care about for child molesters and drug dealers…

    Consistency. Something lacking in the tragedy of the liberal mind.

  72. I don’t know what you think you see when you reread the transcript. When I reread the transcript, I find Mr. Trump saying that he kisses beautiful women without waiting. He uses the first person pronoun. He speaks using the habitual aspect, indicating that it’s a regular behavior. There can be no question that his described behavior is sexual in nature. If he doesn’t wait, then there is no consent. He explicitly says this is what he does. Whether or not he uses the first person to describe the genital groping, it is clear in context that he intends to speak from experience in that also. In any case, the kissing behavior he explicitly ascribes to himself is sexual assault, though the exact legal terminology might vary by state. He said he “automatically” kissed women without waiting for consent if he was sexually attracted. Reread it as many times as you like. He did admit to sexual assault.

  73. I simply feel our focus here is on the wrong things. Donald Trump suffers from a serious mental illness. He is a true narcissist. I was married to someone who also suffered from a personality disorder. We as a people need to find some answers to these problems because the election of Trump has made mental illness the entire country’s problem. Could we fast and pray for help?