Please, MoTab, don’t sell your birthright for this mess of pottage

mormon_tabernacle_choir_2014

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing in happier times (Source)

Twenty years ago when I was in the mission field, the Lamanite Generation came to town. It was a big deal at the time, and the powers that be were determined to make the most of this missionary opportunity. So the missionaries received stacks of flyers and were commanded to be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth with them. For several weeks, our first contacting efforts centered around passing out these flyers to unwary pedestrians downtown. When the day of the concert arrived, we were also roped into singing “I am a Child of God” in the local language in a bid to ensure that the universal message of God’s love in the universal language of music didn’t get lost in translation.

It was a harrowing moment, but (un)fortunately there wasn’t much of a crowd. There were a few USA fans in the audience–like the guy who put longhorns on his aging Chevy Beauville and drove it around town–who thought the dancing Indians were pretty cool, though in the overall scheme of things, the concert had about as much an effect as a ripple in a pond’s surface. But not for lack of trying. We worked that event for all it was worth, and then some; desperate times called for desperate measures.[1]

In the meantime, I’ve moved back to the mission field. Last January, the stake president announced that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir would be coming to Europe for the first time in ages. And so it began–six months of working that event for all it was worth, and then some.

You see, when it comes to the Church in Europe, the times are still desperate. There are plenty of reasons why, but one challenge facing Mormons in Europe is that they lack the street cred Mormons enjoy in certain circles in the US as reliable allies of certain causes, economically successful and loyal citizens of the realm. But the Mormon Tabernacle Choir–well, people have heard of that! And even if Europeans hate religion, they are all about culture, so what better way to engage them than with a relatively well-known, generally well-regarded and “unique music organization [that] transcends cultural and generational boundaries and brings together people from around the world through stirring music” that is “is dedicated to the universal language of music that has the power to bring joy, peace, and healing to its listeners”?

The local Church newsroom gave the event lots of coverage (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) and the stake and ward announced it for weeks on end and really, really pushed the missionary angle. And it was a resounding success. At least it sold out in a city that knows a thing or two about music. How many concert-goers weren’t already members will never be known, but dignitaries were invited–and came!–and the concert received positive coverage in the national news. All that’s not nothing in a country where Mormons are mistaken for Jehovah’s Witness as often as they are for the Amish.

Overall, as far as I could tell with my finger to the wind, anyway, it was a worthy outreach effort that I felt a Mormon in Europe could be proud of, and it was an event that lived up to the Choir’s–and Church’s–mission to be an ambassador to the world of the good news.

And so I must confess that I was disappointed when I heard today’s announcement: “Mormon Tabernacle Choir to Sing at US Presidential Inauguration.” You know, the inauguration of the guy who, echoing a famous Mormon teaching, doubled down on his scandalous views on religious freedom just yesterday: “You know my plans all along.” You know, the inauguration of the guy who builds casinos and boasts about groping women.

What business do Mormons have in legitimizing this man’s presidency, when even godless Hollywood types are steering clear of this rattlesnake? His is no message with the power to bring joy, peace, and healing to its listeners. He will transcend no boundaries but will build them higher. This is the Choir that ought to continue building bridges, not shoring up the bulwarks of xenophobia, racism and intolerance. Outreach is hard enough without staining yourself with the very appearance of evil; if we want our choirs to be effective ambassadors in sharing the good news with the world, we must choose well. Let’s not risk losing the message of the gospel in translation. Please, MoTab, don’t sell your birthright for this mess of pottage.

[1] Topped only by the flyer we passed out that featured “notable Mormon personalities,” with the only European that I recall being Dieter F. Uchtdorf who was even then a minor Mormon celebrity for being an important Lufthansa guy. Not that any German would have known him, but the drowning take the straws they are dealt.

Comments

  1. I’ve called the Public Affairs voice mail box, identifying myself by name and unit, to express my extreme displeasure at this. If anyone else knows a more effective method of getting the message to Salt Lake, please tell me.

    The Church is letting the MoTab be used as a fig leaf by Trump’s team. This arguably is worse than Julie Beck praying at a rally featuring Mike Pence.

  2. Some seem to think it a source of pride to be invited, and they kindly give a list of the other inaugurations they’ve performed at. Not hard to see that all of them were for Republican presidents. My guess is the rationalization of “even if he’s slime, at least he’s -our- slime”. Never mind that MoTab was far down on the list of groups/performers to be asked, it’s -such- an honor.

    I can only hope the numbers are diminished by the number of singers who decline to attend.

  3. If the Church/MoTab is aiming to promote national harmony, I can begin to understand it’s decision to perform at the inauguration. But this approach could prove to be a mistake. I’m reminded that the religious establishment in the last century, for fear of rocking the boat, exercised an unprincipled tolerance of unsavory governments in a way that only ended up legitimizing people like Mussolini or the Argentine Junta.

  4. It strikes me as difficult for MoTab to be continued to be seen as transcending boundaries if they start declining invitations based on political positions. It would be too easy for conservatives within the church to start to use MoTab as a political weapon of their own and decline to sing in those venues or for certain people.

    Let’s be honest, a year from now, will anyone remember that MoTab was part of the inauguration?

  5. APM: I’m genuinely glad you made the call, but I’m also resigned to the event going on as planned. After all, no examples come to mind of Church HQ ever walking back on an unpopular decision (but perhaps they’ll call it a mistake 150 years from now!).

  6. So much for “standing for something.” So much for “defending” the family. So much for the “importance” of religious freedom. Trump represents the antithesis of our most basic values, both as Mormons and as Americans. He’s a serial adulterer, pornography-promoting casino magnate who boasts about his ability to sexually assault women without consequence because of his wealth and fame and who is documented to have repeatedly cheated workers and contractors out of their wages or contractual payments. And he’s a pathological liar. It is beyond belief that Church leaders have made the decision to allow this and thereby support and normalize Trump. Many other artists turned down the invitation because they stood up for their values. And then we accept. Shame on us.

  7. “The Mormon Tabernacle Choir just called me BEGGING for a spot on jan 21. Lucky for them Im honored to have them perform and support me. They’re not like others who passed up great chance. Sad!”

  8. ABM: it’ll show up in a host of stories in 2020. I can see the lazy heds: “Are (Some) Mormons Still Against Trump?”

  9. john f:

    Yes, but BABY PARTS and WEDDING CAKES FOR TEH GHEYZ!!1

    See also A Man for All Seasons: “It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … but for Wales, Richard?” The prospect of maybe kinda sorta possibly making abortion illegal in some states led many, many ostensible Christians, and far too many Latter-Day Saints, to throw away everything else by voting for something a good bit less than Wales.

    And now Conway, Bannon, etc. are going to try to use this to claim some kind of legitimacy.

  10. you forgot BUT EMAILS!!!!!1!!

  11. Dancer_Esquire says:

    This morning as I contemplate this news I can’t help but think about the Church’s approach to the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s, and the utterly tragic story of Helmuth Hubener. (Look him up on Wiki).

    When the president of the Church visits Germany in 1937 and encourages the members there to “remain, get along, and not cause trouble,” we really have to stop and ask whether the Church’s stance on “political neutrality” really delivers what we would expect of God’s kingdom on Earth.

  12. APM,
    I don’t understand all of this concern about “legitimacy”. Could you explain? Donald Trump is going to be the legitimate President of the US and there is nothing we can do about it. The church can take no action for or against that will change that fact.

  13. To be entirely accurate Frank, they weren’t ALL Republicans. The choir did sing at LBJ’s inauguration. And I think the inaugurations they’ve performed has more to do with who did the inviting, rather than who they wanted to sing for. Every president who invited them (including LBJ) was one who carried Utah.

    But this was definitely one to decline. If anyone in Salt Lake thought this would be good publicity for they church, they were badly mistaken, as usual.

  14. “as usual” is the key there — who is making these decisions? Terrible, just terrible.

  15. He’ll be the legal president, ABM. But the platform he ran on is not legitimately American.

  16. It seems that there are always those who are prepared to “cast the first stone”. When we have just suffered through the most contentious election campaign in my lifetime, you might consider keeping your flame throwing opinions to yourself. I assure you that you have deeply offended as many Pharisees as you have pleased. I am ashaamed to have to be associated with the likes of you!

  17. I’m with ABM on this one, and I am definitely no fan of Trump.

    “Outreach is hard enough without staining yourself with the very appearance of evil . . . .”

    Peter, I don’t think you have much to worry about with your fellow Europeans (and as a former missionary in France, I can attest to the wide ignorance regarding Mormons and other smaller religions). If they can’t trouble themselves to figure out the difference between the Amish and a Mormon, there’s no way they are following the goings-on of MoTab. I don’t think that anyone who is not a Mormon knows that MoTab has ever even sung in an inaugural celebration.

  18. I’m devastated and embarrassed that the MoTab is doing this. I wish they could see that this is not about unifying the world with music, but being taken advantage of in order to increase the power of a narrow group while alienating all others at an extremely divisive time in American History. This isn’t about patriotism, this is about politics, gross, ugly, greedy, messy, filthy politics. We are taught that ‘taking the Lord’s name in vain’ means swearing, but I think that the deeper meaning is using His name (including His church, His choir, his gift of music) for vain purposes. “Vain” is a word related to ‘vanity’ and means self-promoting or self-serving. To take the Lord’s name in vain is to use God’s name in someone’s power-grab. This is a blatant and horrible example of ‘taking the lord’s name in vain’ for a particular political party, for this megalomaniac presidency, and yes, for our precious PR. We will be on international TV, perhaps again be called ‘America’s choir’, but at *terrible* cost.

    I’m writing to the Q15, to the Public Affairs office, to ALL the MoTab leadership (found on their webpage) https://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/about/choir/bios.html to complain.

  19. I’m really struggling with this one. How can I keep giving so much of my life to this church when it does things like this? I’m embarrassed to be Mormon today.

  20. ABM: There’s a difference between acceptance and endorsement.

    When Edward VII traveled to India to be crowned Emperor a few years after his coronation as King of Great Britain and Ireland, a number of the local princes came to his coronation in clothing quite a bit less than their finest, and at least one major prince did not kneel to him. All accepted British rule, but some did not endorse it, even if they never took up arms against British rule.

    Trump doesn’t need anyone performing at the Inauguration to have legal authority, you’re right. However, power in our system ultimately derives from the consent of the governed; when a group of the governed says, “We don’t like you, but we’re going to engage in artistic expression at a ceremony for you,” it makes the former statement irrelevant.

    I’m not going to participate in an armed revolt against Donald Trump unless he violates the Constitution in a particularly flagrant manner in defiance of the federal judiciary (possible, but unlikely).

  21. So, a freakin’ year ago, no one in SLC thought, ‘Mmmm . . . we’re either going to have to sing at Trump’s inauguration or Hillary’s. This is going to divide the members and the nation either way, cause bad PR. This is a no-win situation, let’s find a 3rd way out. Let’s schedule a big important concert in late January NOW and start promoting it, so we’ll have a legitimate excuse to decline when/if we get a call in December”.

  22. Whatever minimal public relations value this may have is certainly dimmed by the fact that it was announced after two weeks of the press reporting on all of the acts that have refused to play at this inauguration. Rather than, “no presidential inauguration would be complete without the sweet, dulcet tones of America’s Choir,” we’e got, “well, Sean Cassidy said no to a Trump version of Da-Doo-Ron-Ron, and Meat Loaf couldn’t drive across state lines because of his DUIs, so maybe we should ask the Mormons.”

  23. APM- I completely agree with your last statement. There is a huge difference between simply accepting the fact that he won the election, and celebrating that fact.

  24. This also means that the MoTab is going to have serious trouble getting any big-name non-LDS acts to play the Christmas concert for the next few years, BTW.

    80,000 people in the Rust Belt just made the high school bully President of the United States. Performing artists generally don’t have fond memories of the high school bully.

  25. APM,
    Thanks for the example and explanation. It is likely that if Trump violates the constitution in a flagrant enough manner to cause you to take up arms, I would be there with you.

    It seems that disagreement on this issue comes from just how dangerous a person thinks Trump really is. I think he will be a terrible President, but I don’t think he is a fascist or the next Hitler, therefore singing at his inauguration is not especially bothersome. But I can see how if you think this is the 1930s on repeat, singing in a ceremony for his Presidency is a really bad thing.

    Maybe we can agree that none of us know the future… what he will actually do or what the ultimate impact of his Presidency will be.

  26. For those who don’t think the church should “pick sides” in politics, is there any sort of person who might become president that would cause you to view a MoTab performance as a improper affiliation?

  27. Were there sidelines in the War in Heaven, GBart? What makes you think it’s any different down here?

  28. “Biased media has failed AGAIN…this time in its hit job to portray my ‘mormon problem’ during campaign. The prestigious Mormon Tabernacle Choir will be honoring me at my inauguration! #TrumpTrain #MakeAmericaGreatAgain”

  29. ty, Left Field. I’d think more that Johnson was an aberration, being both the first of the string of Inauguration performances and still feeling of “all in this together” that came after the forced succession. For being “America’s Choir”, they were conspicuously absent for Carter, Clinton, and Obama. Seems a more accurate description would be “-Real- America’s Choir”.

  30. “O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise” And there you go again. Liberals (intellectual) always seem to know what is best and no other opinion matters. But the heartland of America finally had enough. Grow up, and please be quiet for four years. After all, it was your boy who said “elections have consequences”.
    Please forgive me.

  31. JT, you are right, of course, as a practical matter. No one here will take note. But if the Choir has any value at all abroad, and the Church certainly believes it does, it is symbolic. And that is being sacrificed carelessly.

  32. I forgive you, GBart, but it’s the angels silent note taking you need to worry about.

  33. I’m so sad to hear that the choir is singing at the inauguration of Donald Trump, a man who does not stand for the core moral beliefs of the LDS church. No one is perfect, especially political figures but his constant dishonesty and pattern of sexually harassing and demeaning women have caused many, many other musical groups to rebuff invitations to perform on moral grounds. As a lifelong active Latter-day Saint, I hope the Choir reconsiders. I know the MTC isn’t the ‘Church’ but as an organization and worldwide church, we need to be careful where we stand.

    It may be “an honor” to be invited. I can understand that as Lyndon Johnson was no saint either and the only Democrat with the MoTab at his inauguration (Mormons till voted Democrat then) but it’s sad that since then only Republicans think to invite MoTab to sing. It seems the LDS PR and leadership should strive to extend themselves in another direction to keep the church from being pigeonholed. Missionaries in the USA and Europe can’t effectively share the gospel to millions who now associate LDS Church with anti-gay rhetoric, suppression of women and conservative politics and moreso Trumpism. The gospel is inclusive but our church is not. The LDS Church is missing opportunities to bless the lives of all these fair-minded people who won’t even consider the core teachings because of these glaring issues.

    As of today, the only confirmed talent for the inauguration so far is 16-year-old “America’s Got Talent” 2010 runner-up Jackie Evancho and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

  34. Trump gets the lowest vote % in Utah of any Republican nominee in many decades and the MTC is invited to perform at the inauguration and accepts. This is supposed to be legitimizing the new president? The voters who voted for Trump and the electors who officially elected him have done the real legitimization.
    Most of the Hollywood stars who declined invitations to be with Trump did so for political reasons, not any real moral principles.
    For those who do not like many of Trump’s business deals, I agree that not everything he has done to make a living is the most ethical or moral way to go. Unfortunately, several recent presidents have been worse on this front. Obama is the most recent example of doing very unsavory things to earn a living before being president. Note also that most of JFK’s money came from trading illegal drugs, and that he did nothing of note except serve in the military during WWII. Others who were corrupt, career politicians are also suspect. LBJ and Nixon come to mind in this regard.
    The bottom line is that this is an overall good opportunity for the church to show that they can accept election results that they do not necessarily agree with and still move forward.

  35. this is an overall good opportunity for the church to show that they can accept election results that they do not necessarily agree with and still move forward.

    Accepting election results requires no more than a shrug of the shoulders, not even that. What showing up and performing does is far more–it is an endorsement of the man being feted at that event. This is Diplomacy 101, and for an organization like the Choir that trades in symbolism, it is a fact of life that it cannot escape.

  36. There are no Constitutional provisions requiring the MoTab to perform at the Inauguration, and the only Democratic president at whose Inauguration it performed happened to be an old and longstanding friend of David O. McKay–and took office before the large majority of Americans were born (US median age in 2015 was 38, per the Census Bureau). This doesn’t exactly help create an appearance of impartiality.

    Actions speak thousands of times louder than words, and no press release from Public Affairs (who I’m sure are in panic mode right now) will come close to neutralizing the appearance of the Church granting its imprimatur to Donald Trump in a way that it certainly hasn’t for any Democratic president. If the Church doesn’t want to appear to be endorsing a man who has been rejected by most prominent LDS politicians, the only reasonable course of action is withdrawing from the performance.

  37. Actual headlines from The Deseret News:

    Oct. 8, 2016: In our opinion: Donald Trump should resign his candidacy
    Dec. 22, 2016: Mormon Tabernacle Choir to perform at Trump inauguration

    I thought I had a good capacity to deal with cog-dis, but I just can’t make any sense of things right now. The force is not strong enough with me.

  38. “80,000 people in the Rust Belt just made the high school bully President of the United States.”

    I love that way to explain Trump’s election.

  39. Trevor Price: Hillary Clinton

  40. The Other the RM says:

    Following up on Mr Pellett / Mr Field ( :-) ), while I might agree that LBJ was an aberration, Carter was invited to speak at the Tabernacle (and given an award by the Church for being a defender of the family) in 1978. If we want to talk about direct endorsements . . .

  41. Jadis of Charn says:

    Mr. The Other the RM,

    Please keep your contrary facts out of this thread, please. You’re messing with the narrative du jour.

    If it were up to me, I’d deliver a seven-foot-tall b#$%-slap to all parties involved, and assume absolute and unquestionable control.

  42. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    This should be viewed as nothing short of an endorsement of his Presidency by The Church. We can try to argue over the terminology here, but it’s a stamp of approval. One way to reach this conclusion is that Trump is characterizing this as a Mormon endorsement. The Church can deny this (probably won’t bother doing so), but his voice is just so much louder. The world will view this as an endorsement. I don’t live in Utah. I can see absolutely no way for me to convince my neighbors, my colleagues, by friends, that this does not mean that Mormons endorse the Presidency of Donald Trump.

  43. Given that no one outside of Mormondom could possible care less about what Mormons do, I think it would have been pretty easy for the choir to say they were washing their hair that day or something. For the same reason, I think it’s not that big a deal they’re singing at the inauguration. If they cared about appearing non-partisan ambassadors of good will, they’d probably be screwed either way, since this is the first inauguration I can think of where people are keeping tabs on who’s refused the invitation. Refusing would appear political, even if it were just a matter of good taste. And of course, accepting is also seen as political, even though it’s probably just a matter of thinking that it’s an honor to perform at anyone’s inauguration. Mormons like being famous. Like most people, they confuse fame with importance. That’s why they’re doing this. Does it look bad? Depends on who’s looking. And frankly, most people won’t be, or if they are, they won’t give it a moment’s thought afterward. Only Mormons care one way or the other.

    If I made decisions for the church and/or its choir, I would have suddenly found something else to do that day. But that’s just me. I think the time has (probably long since) passed that singing at a POTUS inauguration can be seen as non-partisan, and particularly for Mormons, since they’re now so (in)famously loyal to the Republican party. But I don’t believe this will help or harm the MoTab’s reputation–which is really all the church cares about–because no one outside the church cares–at least not after the five seconds (max) it takes them to process the information, form an opinion, and move on to the next thing.

  44. Melvin M Martindale says:

    Why do you feel that you are the voice of the Church? Shame on you for making the Church the villain here. Sound like you all are sanctified saints and nothing about you stinks.

  45. john f: Being a native of the Rust Belt, I am well familiar with the cargo cult mentality toward factory jobs that prevails there. My maternal grandfather made quite sure that his children didn’t follow him into the factories of the South Side and south suburbs of Chicago (almost all of which have closed, with the few remaining heavily automated and employing a tenth of the workforce they did 50 years ago), riding them hard to get good grades and go to college. Say what you will about the attitudes of Texans in many areas, but they’re not that different from Californians (or Utahns, for that matter) in their embrace of the creative destruction aspect of capitalism–which couldn’t be more different from the paternalistic, Fordist attitudes that most middle-class Midwesterners hold.

    Of course, if oilfield services ever goes into steep decline–say, because advances in energy storage and/or propulsion technology make it feasible to use electricity even for air and sea travel, let alone ground transportation–perhaps Texans will become as hidebound and parochial as the people of Michigan and Ohio. I doubt it, though: Texas is one of the leading states for wind power, and is going to become one of the leading solar states within a decade, because renewable energy has become very cheap. If developing methods for drilling oil stops paying the bills, Texas will use the knowledge base it has and find some other way of getting by.

  46. john f. – I don’t agree that the MoTab would even think about saying no to Hillary Clinton’s inauguration, if such a thing ever happened. (And I only think such a thing would happen if Clinton got the Mormon vote, which we’ve just seen is impossible.) Because if they played at Hillary Clinton’s inauguration, everyone would think they really were being non-partisan (except for the alt-right, whose opinions aren’t well-informed by reality anyway).

  47. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    Disappointed here. Stomach sank when I saw the headline. The only way of consoling myself I can come up with is this: the church typically chooses to error on the side of compassion rather than with-holding service for the fear of being prostituted. Think of how many food orders are written for people that really don’t need them? How many bills are paid for Americans to have luxuries that people in other countries do not have? Not a thought with far-reaching consolation with the despot elected, but gotta think of something positive to make it through the day.

  48. Think of how many food orders are written for people that really don’t need them?

    Hardly any in my ward, but that’s because hardly any are written for people who do need them. My bishop is…kind of a jerk!

  49. Nauvoo Legionnaire says:

    The inauguration ceremony isn’t a celebration of the individual but of the office and the peaceful transfer of power.

    It appears that some Mormons object to the Choir performing at the Inauguration because it is viewed as an endorsement of the nasty rhetoric and behavior of the President-Elect. If things had turned out differently and Clinton was the current President-Elect, I wonder if these critics would support the Choir refusing to perform at her inauguration on account of her stance on abortion.

    Furthermore, there are countless occasions where we as citizens set aside our political and even personal differences in order to celebrate and commemorate important national events. I believe the inaugural ceremony is one of those occasions.

  50. Rebecca J: this will lead to the MoTab being denied opportunities to perform, make no mistake. There are a lot of people watching, around the world.

  51. Nauvoo Legionnaire: the inauguration ceremony doesn’t need anybody singing at it to have legal meaning. We can be grateful for the peaceful transfer of power without endorsing the person taking it–and make no mistake, having the members of the MoTab on the stand while the new President delivers an inaugural address that almost certainly will be filled with hateful rhetoric and incredible falsehoods is an endorsement.

    George W. Bush’s election was nearly as divisive as this one, but he genuinely tried to build bridges after his election, rather than going on a “victory tour” where he spewed bile and excrement. Nothing that we’ve seen from Donald J. Trump gives the slightest indication that he will treat the occasion of his inaugural as anything but another one of his loathsome rallies.

  52. BTW, some of my friends have called Public Affairs and gotten through to a rep; the term that’s being used now to describe the performance is “assignment,” which is Orwellian in its blatant disregard for the truth. If it’s a paying gig, give the money back. If it’s not a paying gig, nobody’s gonna put you in prison if you say you can’t do it.

  53. APM – Agree to disagree. I guess time will tell.

  54. peterlic,
    I do not see how you think that the church is endorsing Trump. They called on him to drop out 1 month before the election. There is a big difference between endorsing a candidate and working with the duly elected president.

    For all who think that working with government leaders and even praising certain decisions they make means a ringing endorsement I have an example. Our current prophet worked with the thuggish and loathsome East German government for years to get a temple built there. I do not think that means that President Monson endorsed the communist dictators. He was even praised for his work by then President Benson. Just a bunch of commie lovers by some of the logic displayed here.

  55. el oso, there’s a massive difference between quiet, behind-the-scenes diplomacy and putting your public face forward at an event that only the wilfully blind would deny is at least partially about celebrating the new president.

    This is more akin to the Church having the MoTab sing at a National People’s Political Consultative Congress in China.

  56. I think this is a mistake because it further contributes to the impression that the church is a partisan institution. If the choir had a past record of singing for both parties’ presidents at inaugurations, then playing this off as not an endorsement, but just something we do would be more believable. The fact that it has not sung at a Democrat’s inauguration since Johnson (!) certainly doesn’t help when we try to say it’s not a partisan thing. And maybe that’s just because Democrats just don’t invite them, while Republicans do, but that’s itself a symptom of the partisanship problem, not an excuse for it. And regardless of whose fault it is, the fact remains that the choir has a partisan record when it comes to inaugurations. If we are really serious about being non-partisan, it would be in our interest to at least have one Republican inauguration that the choir didn’t sing for, to be able to point to as evidence that we don’t always sing for Republicans. And what better opportunity than the guy that the Deseret News called on to drop out?

    But if they’re set on doing this, it should at least come with some kind of statement disclaiming any endorsement and at least putting it on record that at least the church doesn’t see this as an endorsement, expressing our willingness to have the choir sing for ANY president’s inauguration, maybe even a comment by someone in PR saying that while the choir has mostly sung for Republicans, we would welcome the opportunity to have the choir sing for the next Democrat that is elected.

  57. Trump, who has been vocally anti-Mormon, had two Mormon grudges from the election: Romney who was well-respected in the GOP and was an early vocal detractor, and the state of Utah which is viewed as a proxy for Mormon voters which was in play for the Dems and went in equal numbers for a no-name no-chance third party candidate. Both of those were political black eyes for Trump that rejected his candidacy in a very public way.

    Trump’s modus operandi is to exact petty revenge by getting his enemies to swear fealty with no reward in return; he shows people he’s the alpha dog. He already humiliated Romney by tantalizing him with the Secretary of State role, then snatching the football away at the last minute (after getting Romney to publicly refute his own anti-Trump statement and endorse Trump as the right man for the job). What’s next? Show the world that the Mormons and Utah will also back him now that he’s in office, that all this talk of asking him to step down was stuff and nonsense.

    I’d hate to hear what Trump would say off camera to Billy Bush about Mormons, but I suspect it’s a lot like the other things he said off camera. Unlike the church, Trump is media savvy. He knows very well what he’s doing here. We may have been his 28-gajillionth choice, but our desperation to say yes to him neutralizes our prior moral stand effectively.

  58. Left Field says:

    As far as I am aware, the Choir did not sing at Republican inaugurations in 1973, 1985, or 2005. My guess is they weren’t invited those years.

    I would disagree with the assumption that declining an invitation would be interpreted as a political statement. There would have been no reason to make an announcement that an invitation was declined, although the church can’t control what information the Trump team wants to put out.

    I do think the Choir would be quick to accept an invitation to a Hillary Clinton or other Democratic inauguration, to shore up their nonpartisan cred, as Rebecca said.

  59. I think it’s awesome that the choir will sing at Trump’s inauguration and I’m excited about a Trump presidency!

  60. anon for now says:

    I think it would be a mistake if the MoTabs started accepting–or rejecting–singing assignments based on normal partisan concerns. The Church has tried hard to maintain at least the appearance of political neutrality, and it has done so for all kinds of very good reasons. Because of that, the Church has gone out of its way to not take official stands on very many political issues; when it does, that’s a really big deal.

    When it comes to the Church’s choir singing at an inauguration, if the choir had a policy of avoiding either Republican or Democratic inaugurations, I think either policy would be equally bad. Doing so would directly align the Church with a particular party, which is exactly what it’s trying not to do.

    But here’s the problem: Donald Trump took–as a central point of his candidacy–a series of positions that are directly contrary to positions that the Church *has* taken. And they’re not minor ones. We have been hearing from the General Authorities for years now that the cause of religious freedom is one of the church’s utmost priorities. And yet Trump is openly advocating for religious restrictions on people trying to enter our country and for a religion-based registry for members of that faith within the country. There’s no way around this. On this key issue of his administration, we’re not neutral. We’re directly opposed to it. So too with immigration, where we have been hearing from General Authorities for years now that the Church favors relatively open immigration policies. And yet Trump is openly advocating for, well, the exact opposite of that.

    This is what’s so jarring about this to me. His personal immorality is horrific, but that has been the case for a lot of our presidents. I don’t think the MoTabs should condition their singing on the president-elect passing a worthiness interview.

    But this isn’t about that. This is much bigger. Based on its previously stated positions, at least, the Church is directly opposed to the very core of Trumpism. At least, I thought it was, until it decided to let its Choir be used as a centerpiece of the public celebration of his election. For those who accuse the Church of being either tone-deaf or disingenuous or completely political (as opposed to serious in its doctrinal positions), this is yet another example that they may be right.

  61. As a non-American, I really tire of the church dipping into American politics. Are they going to do perform when presidents and priministers of other countries are ceremoniously put in power? Probably not. We are, after all, a world wide church.

    Or are we? Looks and feels pretty American right now

    It needs to stop.

  62. Why do you feel that you are the voice of the Church? Shame on you for making the Church the villain here. Sound like you all are sanctified saints and nothing about you stinks.

    Oh, please, spare me the outrage. I’m not pretending to speak for the Church, I’m asking the Choir to reconsider endorsing a man who, among his legion failings, hates religious freedom. This should give rank and file Mormons in the US pause given the importance our prophets, seers and revelators have attached to it recently. And no shame on me, for I am doing as I learned in primary: Do what is right; let the consequence follow.

  63. The Church’s relationship to politics has a deep crack in its foundation. On one hand, the Church wants to be neutral. That way it can function throughout the world under many types of political regimes. On the other hand, the Church has a strong cultural and doctrinal loyalty to the myths of American exceptionalism. When it comes to the specialness of America, we are not neutral.

    Perhaps these contradictory political ideas can coexist as long as America continues to be a reasonable approximation of the ideal. But now that state of affairs is in doubt. Donald Trump is the gravest threat to the American polity since the Civil War. He is a proto-fascist. Trump’s presidency will put the Church’s political position under intense stress as his regime’s corruption deepens.

    With a person like Trump in power, it will not be possible to float above the political fray. The Church will have to reconsider how it relates to the American government and partisan politics. If it fails to recognize that the situation has changed, the Church will find itself being used and duped in a way that does serious, lasting damage to its mission.

  64. another anon says:

    So if you’re following along, the Church has now staked out the following ground: when a Mormon’s religious beliefs come into conflict with a gay person’s attempt to access all the same civic liberties as straight people, religious freedom wins. But when a Muslim’s ability to even be in America runs headlong into a powerful politician’s political views, we’re going to send our choir to sing pretty songs at the gala that honors his election.

    Ok, gotcha.

  65. “And now, verily I say unto you, and this is wisdom, make unto yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, and they will not destroy you.Leave judgment alone with me, for it is mine and I will repay. Peace be with you; my blessings continue with you.” D&C 82:22-23

  66. By all means, speak out against Trump, his actions, his offensive remarks. Voice disregard for his policies. But getting upset over a choir accepting an invitation to sing patriotic songs at an inauguration? I think this is getting way overblown by Mormons on the left.

  67. “Not hard to see that all of them were for Republican presidents.”

    Only if you don’t count LBJ, who was a Democrat as I recall. I would be astonished if the Choir turned down any request from any Democratic president, regardless of that president’s politics on abortion, marriage, war, religious freedom or any other topic.

    Also see the 12th Article of Faith. Think of this as honouring the office rather than the man, if you wish.

  68. I think this comes down to whether or not you view Trump as “normal.” Maybe you think he’s distasteful, but it’s not that big a deal. In that case all this hand-wringing about MoTab probably sounds overblown.

    On the other hand, if you think this is situation very *not* normal, then it is a very big deal. It looks like a tacit endorsement of the racist overtones, dangerous ignorance, and explicit sexism that characterize Trump’s candidacy. The church absolutely takes political stances on moral grounds (Prop 8, anybody?) For the church not to make a moral stand in this case is disappointing.

    I don’t think this is normal, and I am trying to resist the apathy that makes it seem so.

  69. Confidential says:

    The Church was in a lose-lose situation here. If they decline a Trump invite, it is taken as a political statement and angers some of its members. If they accept a Trump invite, it is taken as a political statement and angers some of its members. It would have faced the same lose-lose situation if an invite had come from Hillary. So it stuck with the precedent of accepting all invites extended no matter the president. The Church can’t control that more republican presidents have extended invites.

  70. Confidential is correct that the Church would have faced criticism no matter what it chose to do with the inaugural invitation. That was not true in the past. It used to be possible to claim political neutrality in this type of situation, but not now. LDS leaders need to face the fact that circumstances have changed, and they need to deal with it.

  71. Confidential is not correct. The Church could have quietly declined the invitation with no publicity.

  72. This might seem completely off-topic*, but what WAS that hole “Support Religious Freedom” thing about anyway? What did it even mean? What/who was it for?

    *but for me, completely on topic

  73. **whole

  74. Yet Another John says:

    Unknown and Leo, no fair using scripture and the Articles of Faith to make your points.

  75. Jim Wallmann says:

    We all know that the wardrobe of the MoTab is very tightly controlled (for better or worse), so this could only be done as an official action. Each choir member should wear a pin or ribbon supporting a worthy cause. Religious freedom is popular, but this would be interpreted as anti-gay. How about a pin or ribbon supporting refugees? This way the choir could proudly stand for something.

  76. Oh brother. I’m really tempted to post a comment that would get me banned for life, but I won’t. I didn’t vote for either one of these despicable people and still can’t believe they were the best our major parties could come up with. But please move on and get over yourselves.

  77. ariderinthesky says:

    I am deeply disappointed by this posting. It repeats many false assertions peddled by the opposition campaigns and their supporters in Hollywood and the media. It is pointless to attempt to refute them all to those who will not see, and that is not my desire. Few men are above reproach, none should be unfairly smeared. Political campaigns rarely present us with clearly good choices. This one was typical. The two remaining choices were both flawed. However, a huge majority of the country chose Donald Trump. I am part of that majority: to take the side of a chance of change as opposed to a continuation of cronyism and corruption. We are a blessed nation still, presented by this election with an opportunity to start to restore the republic. Who better than the Choir to celebrate that?

  78. Left Field says:

    “Huge majority”?
    46%?
    Okay….

  79. I think some commenters would benefit from paying more attention to the facts. I guess I’ll volunteer as fact-checker, it’s not like I’m busy or anything. It is a fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of 2,864,974. Donald Trump won the electoral vote largely by winning Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin by a combined margin if 77,744 votes. The people have spoken, but the debate over what was said is still being hashed out. One true thing is that Trump’s winning votes cannot be termed a ‘huge margin.’

    There are other facts we know. Trump’s choices for staff and cabinet show a level of cronyism not seen in my lifetime, or my parents’ or grandparents’ lifetimes as voters. I could try to rehash the facts (white supremacist as Chief of Staff, evidence of Russian tampering with the election, refusal to have daily intelligence briefings, nepotism, and So. Much. More.) which facts are the reasons why this inauguration and presidency are not normal. Every time I try to make peace with this outcome there is some new alarming development that underscores that this is not going to be a regular executive branch, and we should be paying attention.

    I love the Choir, and I’m happy to see them perform in public outside of our church venues, but I worry about the likely potential that their reputation will be tarnished by association with the inauguration of this person as president.

  80. “The Church could have quietly declined the invitation with no publicity.”

    This assumes that no one inside or outside the Church would intentionally or unintentionally leak the news and that the internet wouldn’t pick it up.

  81. Aussie Mormon says:

    Come on guys/girls, please don’t turn this into another argument about victory margins. The electoral college has given their tick of approval, and short of something major happening, Trump will be the next US president. Arguing over counts of voters, countys, states, electoral votes etc is just going to distract from the topic.

    Pulling the original post down to basics, the question is, should MoTab perform at an event for a person/group who has publicly made statements, is known to hold opinions, or acts in ways that are in opposition to the teachings and/or doctrines of the church.

  82. Oh brother. I’m really tempted to post a comment that would get me banned for life, but I won’t.

    Well, let your conscience be your guide and all that, but you don’t need to worry about thin-skinned snowflakes at BCC–we can handle the heat and won’t react disproportionately.

    It repeats many false assertions peddled by the opposition campaigns and their supporters in Hollywood and the media.

    Such as?

  83. Unknown,
    I don’t think that verse from D&C applies to every situation, it was for a particular situation over 150 years ago. At other times the Lord told the saints to brush the dust off their feet at their enemies, at other times, call them to repentance, etc. You can’t take this admonition out of context and apply it to every modern situation. The Lord did not give us carte blanche permission to endorse appeasement politics. Appeasement was wrong in the late 1930’s and its wrong today. Putting self preservation and comfort above the consequences of standing for truth and righteousness is just cowardly and frankly, the opposite of valiant.

  84. Unknown,
    Two words: Helmut Hubner.

  85. Sister Coffman says:

    Your attitude and “I know better” mentality of LDS missionary work in Europe is breathtakingly one dimensional. As a return missionary I find your whining on how hard missionary work is in Europe lacking in faith and completely discounting the Lord’s power to “move mountains”. The message I got from the article, “Wa-Wa-Wa I want my missionary work to be easy.” Oh how Alma and the Sons of Mosiah must be spinning in their graves at your laziness and spoilt woes.

  86. The message I got from the article, “Wa-Wa-Wa I want my missionary work to be easy.”

    It was singing in front of a crowd that I found harrowing, not missionary work per se. The point of bringing up a snapshot of my mission experience was to illustrate the importance the Church choirs have had as tools of outreach in promoting the gospel message. As for your uncharitable reading of my post, look, I’m not the one closing missions and reducing the number of missionaries in the field while convert baptisms plummet in Europe. Missionary work in Europe actually is hard. But as for my personal effectiveness, I had the privilege of being an instrument in the hands of the Lord for double the mission average of baptisms per companionship. That’s not saying much–I served in Europe, after all–but under the circumstances I found my mission to be challenging but also rewarding.

    Nevertheless, I’m sure that anyone who cares about missionary work in Europe–and I remain one of them–would be all ears for how it might be improved. Any suggestions?

  87. Professor Lockhart says:

    Do you turn your back on him and hope he fails and the country suffers or do you hope that your music strikes a chord and inspires the divine spark in all of us to be better and do better?

    Is Trump more or less likely to listen to pleas from Mormons to respect religious minorites if the Motab boycotts his event?

    Is he more likely to repent if the spirit of the Lord is invoked in song at his inauguration or if the Motab boycotts?

    Should Daniel have counseled Nebuchadnezzar after the kings forces slaughtered his people and carried away the people into captivity or turned his back on him and refused to do any good for the people now under his rule?

  88. Fair questions, Professor Lockhart, though I see nothing in the life and times of Donald J. Trump that suggests he would be receptive to pleas from Mormons, whether the Choir prostrates itself before him or not.

  89. Professor Lockhart, it borders on delusional to think that the choir singing at the inauguration week have any influence on trump. At least, that unlikely possibility doesn’t come close to outweighing the very real damage that this will do to the church’s credibility and ability to proclaim the gospel with millions of people in the United States and around the world.

  90. Professor Lockhart says:

    “It borders on delusional to think that the choir singing at the inauguration week have any influence on trump”

    The concept of repentance borders on delusional to the atheist. Being sworn in, and gravity of the day, the music, and the spirit of the Lord can certainly change a heart. Is Trump worse than Nebuchadnezzar?

    What we need to pray for is a changed heart (not changed so he enacts your preferred policies).

    If we act as though his heart can’t change where do we place our faith?

    It’s my hope that he doesn’t yield to violent extremism (IE. Disagreeing about a nomination or policy is within the realm of what what’s normal politics, but some people already portray it as the end of all that’s good).

    Pray for him to make wise decisions, not pray for your wishful thinking outcome. To refer to an Elder Branded talk you’re probably familiar with, when the rescue party from Salt Lake was starving and reduced to eating hides, they prayed that they would be strengthened able to stomach it. If you lack the faith to pray for Trump sincerely (which I suspect is the case for many) then pray that you’ll be able to “stomach” his term and continue to provide for your family and advance the cause of the gospel.

    Surely that’s better than just asking the choir to take their muumuus and bow ties and go home.

  91. Professor Lockhart says:

    *Bednar
    Autocorrect doesn’t read the Ensign I guess.

  92. Surely that’s better than just asking the choir to take their muumuus and bow ties and go home.

    I don’t see why the one necessarily excludes the other. We can all pray to survive the president-elect’s administration on an individual level while urging the Choir to stand for something on an institutional level.

  93. anitawells says:
  94. Professor Lockhart says:

    “while urging the Choir to stand for something on an institutional level.”

    Because it’s post-hoc activism. You’re either asking for them to cause a huge political stink by withdrawing now. Or being an activist hoping your dissent now will factor into their decisions in the future.Perhaps you’re not that pragmatic in evaluating the utility of your posts.

    You can either help people increase faith, amuse, inform, discuss or agitate. I haven’t seen much attempts to increase faith. The discussion doesn’t have much seeking to understand. The information conveyed here was new to me, but it’s also stirred up with some agitation.

  95. Professor Lockhart says:

    “I don’t see why the one necessarily excludes the other. ”

    I’d also just elaborate that it’s better because one is a type of political activism (boycott) where the other is an expression of faith to solve the situation (prayer). While you can certainly boycott and pray over an issue, the boycott represents my will be done.

    Sure, you might boycott a party where they do drugs and pray that the people change their ways. And you might encourage a friend not to go to said party and pray for them all the same.

    But prayer has been mentioned in this entire thread by both me and someone at the very beginning -complaining- about prayer. That speaks mountains.

  96. That speaks mountains.

    No, it assumes mountains. It assumes that I and the many others participating here are acting in bad faith, blinded by partisan activism to basic gospel tenets, etc.

    I haven’t seen much attempts to increase faith.

    Not all posts serve all purposes. For a change of pace to something more devotional you might be interested in this post that I just put up.

  97. Professor Lockhart says:

    Maybe I’m approaching it with a different set of assumptions at what the choir is. Some people see them as a music act. A performance in the profane entertainment sense. If some pop artist performs, it’s perhaps more reasonable to question why they would perform at a venue they disagree with. Similar perhaps to the cake baking pit that partisans like to dig for others to fall into.

    I see the choir as being a prayer or testimony that’s sung to a tune. It would explain why I would see it as capable of changing hearts and creating space within for reflection.

    If you think it’s “just” a performance or “mostly” a performance, it explains the reaction. If you see the music of the choir as touching your soul and bringing you nearer to God, I can’t understand asking them not to sing in a place where millions of eyes would be on them.

  98. Grant Hardy says:

    The way that Latter-day Saints respond to this news probably reflects their assessment of president-elect Trump. I am old enough to remember when the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang at the inaugural parade of George W. Bush in 2001. I did not vote for him, and I did not think that his agenda would be good for the country, but I didn’t complain about the choir’s participation because it seemed like politics as usual. In fact, it seemed like a way to come together after a very close, difficult election that was only settled by the Supreme Court. But President Bush was a known quantity, well within the spectrum of mainstream politics. Donald Trump, by contrast, appears to many to be a new and dangerous development in American politics, and he has revelled in smashing traditional norms and standards (withholding tax returns, promising to jail political opponents, threatening religious freedom for minorities, ridiculing the disabled and gold star families, making unfounded claims of voter fraud on a massive scale, boasting of sexual assault, encouraging xenophobia and racism, etc., etc.–you’ve all seen the clips). I get it, he will be our president next month. The question is whether we are willing to normalize such behavior, and whether the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and by extension the LDS Church should be party to that. I am uncomfortable in seeing them play that role, in a way that would not apply if they were singing at the inauguration of a President Rubio or President Cruz or President Jeb Bush, In those cases, I would simply roll my eyes and move on, much as I did in 2001. Are there any lines that we, as Mormon Americans, should hesitate to cross? Or do we always fall in line with whoever is in power, regardless of our core values?

  99. I love the idea of the MoTab singing at the Pres. inauguration as a way to call Trump to repentance! I’m glad someone suggested that this is what is really going on. Will they be holding a big banner letting everyone knowing that’s why they are there? Or perhaps their song choice will reflect this mission rather than one of those standard patriotic songs that usually get sung at such events (and have nothing to do with repentance…)?

  100. I understand that being asked to perform at the inauguration is an honor, even if the choir wasn’t first, second or even thirtieth choice. I understand that we respect the office of the president, even if the individual himself or herself is flawed. But there are limits to the degree to which you can separate the office from the individual. Only my opinion, but I am extremely disappointed that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has accepted an invitation to sing at the inauguration of a man whose behavior is completely antithetical to what we believe.

    I said it was “only my opinion.” That’s not quite true. When we heard the news yesterday, one non-member co-worker (I live outside the Mormon corridor, and LDS individuals are a minority here) said, “How can they do that? He’s the opposite of everything you all try to be.” Another said, “They’re my favorite big choir, but I don’t know if I want to listen to them anymore.”

  101. Grant Hardy: “do we always fall in line with whoever is in power, regardless of our core values?” Unfortunately, I think always falling in line with whoever is in power IS our core value. Hellmut Hubener’s case also illustrated that “value.” Ugh.

  102. I don’t know, Angela, if that were true, wouldn’t that mean that Mormons would have fallen in line behind President Obama?

  103. Professor Lockhart, let’s stipulate that we all believe in the power of prayer and repentance and not try to one-up each other on that front, or accuse people who disagree with you about whether this is a wise thing for the choir of not believing in repentance as much as you do. I think ReTx’s point is a good one. If the choir sings something about repentance, or the newsroom makes a statement that the choir’s presence at the inauguration is for the purpose of calling the President Elect to repentance, I may agree with you. But just singing patriotic songs won’t go very far to serve that purpose, and will go far to further cement the perception that the church is a partisan for the republican party.

  104. Well, I can tell you that I didn’t protest, or burn things, or boycott, or threaten to leave the country, or demand whatever. I didn’t vote for him and was not thrilled, but I guess it all depends on how you define “fallen in line.” I also didn’t vote for Trump.

    The liberals and the politically correct may not want to admit this, but in my opinion they created Trump. Not Trump the man, but Trump the president-elect. I think the people who voted for Trump were saying “we’ve had enough.” After all, how many universities rescinded their offers to have liberals come speak? And on and on.

  105. Sorry. Redundant on the not voting for Trump bit.

  106. JKC – Aren’t we being a bit passive-aggressive? Do you honestly believe the Church would openly admit they’re trying to get Trump to repent, even if that were its intent?

  107. Good point, JKC. That example might provide the beginning of an answer to Cate’s question about whether Mormons have any lines they won’t cross. Apparently they do, but I’m not sure what it is exactly.

  108. Oops, I mean Grant’s question.

  109. mikerharris says:

    Expecting Mo Tab to reject an invitation to perform is to join the COLIN KAEPERNICK club.

  110. Care to elaborate?

  111. No, Mike, not passive-aggressive. Perhaps a bit facetious. But not entirely. The newsroom employs some savvy people, and I’m confident that they can find a way, if the will is there to do it, to say that this is about praying for the good of the country, for collective repentance, etc., without endorsing the President Elect’s reprobate personal behavior, or his policies that directly oppose moral stances that the church has publicly taken. It’s a thin needle to thread, but that’s what public affairs is for. And besides, that’s only one way to say that the purpose is to pray for repentance. If they actually sing something about repentance, that would do it too.

    But, as I’ve said, just singing standard patriotic songs will do less for to call the President Elect to repentance than just praying for his repentance in our own congregations and homes, and will probably do much harm by continuing to cement the perception that the church is partisan. I guess if you don’t think the church being partisan or perceived as partisan is a problem, then I would understand the position that the choir should go ahead because, hey there’s a chance we could do some good, and we don’t have anything to lose.

    But if, like me, you think that the perception that the church is partisan is a problem, then we have much to lose. And any good we could do by having the choir sing standard patriotic songs at the inauguration we could do just as effectively by praying on our own for the Lord to humble the President Elect.

  112. Kaepernick has the right to take a knee. LDS have the right to disagree with MO Tab going to perform. However, there’s a better way. Stay positive. Pres Harold B. Lee said it well:

    I think we must be on the optimistic side. This is a great nation; this is a great country; this is the most favored of all lands. While it is true that there are dangers and difficulties that lie ahead of us, we must not assume that we are going to stand by and watch the country go to ruin. We should not be heard to predict ills and calamities for the nation. On the contrary, we should be providing optimistic support for the nation.
    We are living in a time of great crisis. The country is torn with scandal and with criticism, with faultfinding and condemnation. There are those who have downgraded the image of this nation as probably never before in the history of the country.
    …It is so easy to clamber onto the bandwagon and to join the extremists in condemnation, little realizing that when they commit their actions, they are not just tearing down a man; they are tearing down a nation, and they are striking at the underpinnings of one of the greatest of all the nations of all the world. (Oct. 26, 1973 at Ricks College, Ye are the Light of the World, 341-42)

    Interesting the date he said this…The nation was facing no small dramas then either.

  113. Well, Peter, the cynical answer is that the line we won’t cross is the party line. I think that’s unfair, but I wish there were facts to back me up on that.

  114. Thanks for the clarification, Mike Harris. I’m a little torn about President Lee’s diagnosis of the problem in the early 1970s. There’s something to be said about encouraging the individual to maintain a stiff upper lip and not wallow in unproductive fingerpointing, but I find myself unable to believe that the Vietnam war, oil crisis, etc. was the result of too much criticism by the likes of those whom President Lee was addressing.

  115. I think it is wonderful that the choir is singing at his inauguration, and I applaud the church for accepting the invitation.

    They (the choir and the church) are setting the example by practicing what they preach–to disagree without being disagreeable. The church disagrees with many of the policies that President-elect Trump campaigned on as well as his personal behavior. But, it would be disagreeable to decline an invitation to sing at his inauguration.

    If the church were to perform for Xi Jinping, Nicolas Maduro, Kim Jong-un, Raul Castro, Vladimir Putin, or Hassan Rouhani to name a few, it would not be an endorsement of their policies or practices. Instead, it would be because the choir is an ambassador of good will for the church.

    When Jesus approached the woman caught in adultery, he had one thing in common with those who accused her of her sin and wanted to stone her. Both Christ and the woman’s accusers disagreed with what she had done. Christ, however, was not disagreeable toward the woman. He did not condemn her. Instead, he asked her to go and sin no more.

    We should not hold on to our stones so tightly and have such convictions about what another has said or done that we do not even let others approach them in a way that results in a different outcome than what we would like to see. Instead, let’s drop our own stones that we can so easily cast at President-elect Trump, the church, the choir, each other, and work to be a little less disagreeable.

    Finally, those comparing President-elect Trump to Hitler, and the church’s current acceptance of this inaugural invitation to sing in our nation’s capitol to what happened with Helmut Hubner do a real disservice to the actual barbarity of what took place in history. Millions of Jews were slaughtered, and hundreds of thousands of civilians and soldiers (perhaps millions) in opposing allied countries also lost their lives and livelihoods. President-elect Trump is (and will not be)Hitler. To make the comparison lessens the tragedy of what Hitler committed.

  116. “President-elect Trump is (and will not be)Hitler.”
    That’s nice that you think that. But it’s just your opinion. Only time will tell.

    “To make the comparison lessens the tragedy of what Hitler committed.”
    I couldn’t disagree more. To make the comparison means one is trying to learn from history. It is to be wary of repeating a tragic/horrific mistake (mistake not being nearly a good enough word, I know). What good is history if we say ‘that was such a tragedy that we better not ever look for signs of it happening again.’

    Letting it happen again is a tragedy. You don’t have to agree that Trump will instigate his own horror, but don’t slam people for being wary when they see things that are red flags for them. (Arguing with the validity of the flags themselves is of course expected.)

  117. President Lee’s speech in October 1973 was given as the Watergate scandal was heating up. There is a lot of ambiguity in his speech. It’s not at all clear whether he was criticizing people who opposed Nixon or he was making a general statement about remaining optimistic in times of crisis. If President Lee meant to defend the president, he was wrong. But in general, it is wise to remain optimistic, and I’d rather understand President Lee’s speech in that way.

    Trump is a grave threat. Saying so does not make us pessimists, it makes us realists. We must pray for peace, and we must express love and hope, but being optimistic requires more than that. It also requires us to take appropriate action and have a spine. Someone mentioned “disagreeing without being disagreeable.” That’s fine, as long as you’re willing to actually disagree. The Church needs to make its disagreement clear. Otherwise, allowing the Choir to perform for Trump is not optimistic, it’s a cynical capitulation.

  118. Well, Clayton, if you’re going to bring up the Holocaust, keep in mind that the actual killings were perpetrated by regular people from all walks of life and across the political spectrum. And it turns out that the odds of survival were highest in states where institutions or some semblance thereof remained intact. Where institutions are destroyed or collapse, regular people start doing terrible things.

  119. Mike Harrington says:

    I just don’t get the indignation here. Okay, let me say I didn’t vote for Trump for all those ugly reasons, but seriously, wouldn’t it be the same thing if it was Hillary’s inauguration? Is she pure and sinless? Clearly her sins are known. Had she won I’m sure the choir would have attended if she had even considered them at all, which she would not have done given Bill’s inaugural history and her distaste for religions teaching purity. My point is it all depends on whose tail is being stepped on when the wailing and decrying start. The choir is supposed to transcend bigotry and political hate. If Trump were to knock on the church’s HQ door I sincerely doubt he’d be rebuffed. We’d show him our exemplary welfare system, and the facilities to care for the needy.

  120. Central Standard says:

    My indignation is the future president is a sexual predator. If one of my daughters had been left alone with him and he tried any of the things he bragged about doing, he could he could be singing at his own inaugural as a soprano.

  121. PeterLLC @2:28pm:

    I am not sure I understand your point. I did not bring up the Holocaust. Other commenters did when they compared Trump to Hitler. That comparison, and all that it implies, are not my thoughts. I do not believe that Trump is Hitler and to suggest that he is, or is capable of being the leader of a country of such mass destruction, is a stretch. Hitler and all that he perpetrated was and is real. Any threat that President-elect Trump poses which even comes close to that is imagined.

    And to your last point regarding survivability during the Holocaust being greatest where institutions remained intact, do you believe that President-elect Trump has destroyed (or is in the process of destroying) any institution or contributed to its collapse that would result in such wide spread carnage being perpetrated in the United States “by regular people from all walks of life and across the political spectrum” like it was in Germany prior to and during WWII?

    I did not vote for President-elect Trump. But I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and pray that his administration will do what is in the best interest of our country, and not for their personal profit or short term political gain. I did so for President Obama, and will do so for others moving forward when President-elect Trump leaves office. I am sure that you will do the same. I just do not see the need for such rancor and angst over the MoTab accepting an invitation to sing patriotic songs at the inauguration of our duly elected President.

  122. Clayton, the only mention of Hitler on this thread prior to you bringing him up was ABM, who said “I don’t think [Trump] is a fascist or the next Hitler.”

  123. Tim,

    That is not true. There are at least 2 references other than the one you cite, to Naziism and Helmuth Hubener implying that Trump is a Hitler-like figure, and this period of time is similar to how it was before Hitler came to power.

    But, this is a digression from the OP. I do not want to quibble over a threadjack.

  124. JKC: Church leadership did not openly oppose Pres. Obama. Whether individual Mormons did isn’t my point. The church as a whole usually doesn’t do dissent.

  125. I felt kick in the gut when I heard this. That they would sing for this despicable man makes me sick. I gave $5000.00 in tithing last year and this in part where it’s going? Makes me sick and depressed.

  126. [Note by the BCC Censor: In expressing disgust about the prospects of the MTC singing for the president-elect, the original comment stooped to the level of the president-elect’s foul-mouthed and frankly horrifying description of his sexual conquests, which you can review here in case you have forgotten what kind of man will be feted on 20 January 2017.]

  127. I feel like we are quickly approaching one of those “burn-it-down-and-start-again” moments in history. Not that I want anything drastic to happen. I don’t, I really don’t. But the current trend of divisive partisan discourse and confusing messages from upper leadership have me worried. I am worried that God is somehow saying, “Yeah. . . My hands are tied here. You did this to yourselves. . . I’ll come back after the dust has settled. . .”

    I can only speculate on what the events that precede the dust settling will look like, but visions of the Book of Mormon come quickly to mind.

    I really hope that I’m wrong. I really do.

  128. Wow. Just wow. Really, Jill Smith?

  129. And BTW, if Jill Smith’s comment stands, how can BCC ever justify censuring any comment?

  130. Proposed: we change the lyrics to “do what is right let the consequence follow” to “appeasement is right you must live till tomorrow”.

  131. Okay, Angela, that’s fair.

  132. And BTW, if Jill Smith’s comment stands, how can BCC ever justify censuring any comment?

    Your complaint has been registered. My concern remains that the Choir will be celebrating the very man whose sickening view of women was referenced by the comment in question.

  133. Jill Smith says:

    The reason I was so vulgar is because the man who is about to be president is vulgar. His words need to follow him around and be hung around his neck. He needs to wear it like a Scarlett letter.

  134. Jill Smith says:

    Why can’t people face reality. You all try to be so intellectual. You can’t face what this country has become.

  135. Jill,

    Here is what this country has become:

    Over 1M abortions annually in the United States
    73% of black children are born out of wedlock
    A nine year old transgender graces the cover of National Geographic in their 1/2017 issue
    Our country is $20T in debt
    We have the highest income inequality in the world
    Mortality is increasing in white middle aged men due to suicide, drug overdoses, & liver disease
    Only half of children age 30 earned more than their parents did at the same age
    Race relations are deteriorating
    Drug overdose deaths hit record numbers according to latest available data from 2014

    The list could go on.

    Many people face real problems in our society. They see their world crumbling. When they weigh in balance those facts against President-elect Trumps words in that secretly recorded audio with Billy Bush which you referenced to, they made a choice to overlook what he said and focus more on what he promised to do.

    In no way am I condoning President-elect Trump’s behavior. I did not vote for him. However, when the level of outrage over that tape, and other things he said, avalanches what people see being done to help them in their reality, their day to day lives, over the list of issues above (and others not listed), they took a chance. Whether or not President-elect Trump will be begin to fix any of those issues remains to be seen. I am doubtful.

  136. Molly Bennion says:

    A virus has rendered me contrary. Never a good underpinning to a post. Oh, well.

    I will be delighted to hear MoTab at the inauguration. The nation chose between 2 morally challenged candidates, one offered more of the same and the other spoke of change but was largely a pig in a poke. The pig in a poke is going to need our prayers for the nation’s success on so many fronts. Today is tragically dangerous economically, socially and internationally. I see no option but to look forward. And I’m glad to have the choir support not the President, but the Nation.

  137. Bradley Woodworth says:

    This is how it went in Germany in 1933, after the Nazi party had received the most seats in the German parliament and Hitler was been named Chancellor — people simply did not stand up for what was right. They either were in favor of the Nazis or they were nervous about not seeming disloyal. This from Victor Klemperer’s _I Will Bear Witness, 1933-1941: A Diary of the Nazi Years_, from March 20, 1933: “And the newspapers [only] snivel. The Dresden New News pays the government compliments. Hitler as ‘statesman’ has always stood for a revision of the [Versailles] peace treaty… I believe anyway that [Germany] can never wash off the ignominy of having fallen victim to it.”

  138. Lisa C Goddard says:

    I was initially amused by the motabsetlist hashtag on Twitter, but pretty quickly I started to feel ashamed of my gleeful cynicism. I wonder what it would be like if they performed Because I Have Been Given Much? Not the straightforward hymn, but a cymbal-crashing-Wilberged version.

  139. mikerharris says:

    It’s easy for the best of us to get sucked into the negative nelly trap. The spirit of murmuring and criticism doesn’t edify. Anyone can do that. It’s a gift/skill to disagree without being disagreeable.

    Especially when one has made covenants it’s important to be loyal through thick and thin. We don’t throw our spouse under the bus or speak negatively because of faults or irritations. Same with the Church and its leaders.

    Edward Kimball shared an interesting example,

    Early in 1974, before President Kimball’s April talk that urged spreading the gospel to nations closed to missionary work, President Kimball authorized his first counselor, N. Eldon Tanner, to find…a special assistant to focus on closed countries. President Tanner met with former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury David M. Kennedy and discussed the Church’s need for someone to assist the First Presidency in achieving official recognition in countries where missionaries could not yet proselyte, to solve visa problems, and to deal with U.S. and foreign government agencies in Washington, D.C.
    Kennedy came to a meeting with President Kimball expecting to make suggestions about how such a representative might serve the Church best and to name some people who could fill that role. But when President Kimball greeted Kennedy, he went straight to the point: “Brother David, we want you to serve as ambassador for the Church. Are you willing to accept this call?”
    Startled, Kennedy still offered the names of others he had come prepared to recommend, including three of the General Authorities. But…President Kimball said, “They are too negative,” presumably because he thought they did not have enough confidence in… what could be accomplished. “You have been working all your life in preparation for this job,” [President Kimball] assured the sixty-eight-year-old Kennedy, who accepted gracefully (Lengthen Your Stride, The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball, Chapter 14 in the Working Draft).

    I applaud the inspired comments in this blog and site that manifest thoughtful and optimistic viewpoints that may help the Church navigate challenging times.

  140. mikerharris, your comments seem sincere, but they are not as helpful as you might hope. You praise the idea of disagreeing without being disagreeable, but you treat only half of that maxim seriously. You give lots of emphasis to not being disagreeable, and none to expressing disagreement. If there is no acceptable way to express disagreement, then “not being disagreeable” practically amounts to servility.

    If you think that servility is what this situation calls for, then please say so. But I assume that you do not think so, since you have compared this situation to political diplomacy and marriage, not slavery.

    Let’s assume that we all want to be faithful to our covenants. I’m interested in your thoughts on the most productive way to express disagreement in the present situation. How should the Church express disagreement with Trump? How should members of the Church express disagreement with the Choir’s performance?

  141. Especially when one has made covenants it’s important to be loyal through thick and thin. We don’t throw our spouse under the bus or speak negatively because of faults or irritations. Same with the Church and its leaders.

    One-way loyalty is simply servility, as Loursat notes above, and I am no servant of the choir, although I did work hard this past year to promote its tour in Europe because I believe in their role as ambassadors of the gospel. In return, I expect the Choir to remain true to its mission and not to stain itself by endorsing a man whose life trumpets a message that is diametrically opposed to the gospel.

    Far from throwing the Choir under the bus, I am pleading with it to refrain from running out into traffic.

  142. peterlic,
    I think that I better understand your position after reading all of your comments here. Most every American would easily recognize that the MTC singing at the inauguration is not the same as an endorsement of candidate Trump, or of any single policy of his.
    Americans would know about his low vote total in UT in the republican primary, his non-endorsement by the church owned Deseret News, and his historically low winning percentage in UT (for a republican) in the general election.
    The church in general and the majority of members have not enthusiastically supported candidate Trump. The choir singing at the inauguration is more about the office of the president than about the specific person.

  143. el oso,
    I disagree, I think that many Americans see the MTC’s inaugural performance as an endorsement, or at least as a signal that they will follow along and cooperate. Music and art are never neutral symbols, and the MTC is one gigantic symbol. That’s WHAT it is.

    Rolling Stone and other outlets have been writing about the many other performers who have turned down the inaugural invitation because they refuse to normalize or endorse this hateful new administration.

    The only people I know who are saying that this is not an endorsement are LDS people now under pressure. Everyone else sees it with Occam’s razor. Sorry, but we can’t just go around doing mental gymnastics to excuse away our behavior. As much as we love our MTC, they shouldn’t be doing this and we shouldn’t be letting them.