Conversations about the religious and spiritual life on the other side of fundamentalism
177: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir at Trump’s Inauguration: International Voices Speak Up

177: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir at Trump’s Inauguration: International Voices Speak Up

Photograph by Kim Siever

Mormons from Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, the UK, Finland, Canada and Sweden share their objections to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s forthcoming appearance at President-Elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, in January 2017.


  1. Bruce Van Orden

    Thank you so much, Gina, for this topic. I agree completely how serious the choir’s participation in Trump’s inauguration is for the international church. I taught the “international church” at BYU and have at least empathy for all the rest of the Church outside our USA borders.

  2. I’m only starting to listen to this, but it strikes me that refusing to sing at the inauguration is a bigger political statement then accepting one. Accepting to sing is showing a respect for the office and the process. It’s still political, but it’s softer. It showing faith and trust in the American political system (I’m imagining the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing at a Putin or a Kim Jong Il event by comparison which I would hope and assume they would refuse).

    I’m not sure where the line should be or is, but to refuse Trump’s inauguration’s invitation is a statement that Trump has crossed it. And there are good reasons for this, I can’t refute them. But those reasons are explicitly political. The Mormon church has a record for stepping into the political conversation when they feel the issues warrant it (abortion, ERA, gay marriage), they usually avoid partisanship however, so objecting to a specific person strikes me as a bit outside of precedent. But if any person deserves it in the US presidential history to date, this one does.

    1. Lauren

      I had the same thought! I wouldn’t like to see what kind of harassment the Church would receive from Trump (and the Republican party) if the choir were to refuse. Imagine the political backlash just in tweet form that would start the moment the choir said no, and then the subsequent attacks to religious freedom via laws and courts that would likely follow.

      The moment the invitation was extended, the Church was put in a very difficult situation. Although I agree with many of the points made by the voices in this episode, especially on a world-wide scale, I don’t think it’s such an easy decision to decline.

    2. Michigan Bill

      Scott, I believe you are correct in your assessment that both participation and non-participation by the choir will be seen as a political statement. No matter how much we in the “Church” wave our arms and insist that it is not a political statement it will indeed be seen as one. Participation will be seen in the States and throughout the world as the Mormon Church supporting Trump and all that he stands for. So, let’s opt for the better political statement and participation is not the better statement.

      A few months ago the Church’s newspaper made a noteworthy political statement by harshly criticizing Trump in a cataloging the reasons why he should withdraw from the race. Seems that the Church was not above making a political statement then. Are we now to abandon those principles so forcefully stated in that non-endorsement by having the choir participate the inauguration?

  3. In light of the fact that the Church has now more Spanish-speaking members than English-speaking members, and that Spanish speaking members have substantive reasons for their dislike of Trump, there is an argument here. I do think it mostly the choir’s decision, though individual members also would be free not to participate. The choir itself likely has only a few (comparitively) Spanish speaking members.

      1. Paul Webb

        Yes, I listened and was more impressed with the thoughts and spirit of the participants than I have been in years. Is there any way you could send me the transcript of the show. It has profoundly affected me. In, fact this particular show has turned out to be “my voice” in expressing my frustration with the actions or inactions of the leadership of the church. The LGBT action, the choir participation and now the “profound silence” in response to the Muslim bans and religious affiliation as a test to enter the USA all are coming close to being the “straw that broke the camels back”for me.

  4. Anita

    The Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing at President-elect Trump’s inauguration has got nothing to do with politics. They have sung at other inaugurations and hopefully will sing at many more. The party affiliations of the incoming president should have nothing to do with the decision. I think it is awesome that they will be a part of the ceremonies. Also, I wish our incoming president well.

  5. Cynthia

    Loved this Gina! I especially loved the English man’s point about how we put an emphasis on always putting emphasis on how we present ourself (cover your shoulders, only one pair of earrings) yet we are oblivious to how this presents ourselves collectively. And the Mexican gentleman who spoke about how this sends the message we don’t care about about the #2 country was spot on. As a Mexicna woman, I echo that.

  6. Mike Maxwell

    Great podcast. When Trump was elected, I told people I know that his presidency will likely have a devastating effect on the church outside the U.S., especially the missionary work. I hope I am wrong but I have not seen anything since the election to change my mind. It is extraordinarily naive for church leaders to believe that the choir performance will be perceived as something other than an endorsement of the president-elect.

  7. Good material Gina. You could put together a group of equally articulate Americans expressing similar reservations and angst. As I stated on my Facebook site, I think the best course would be to not sing at any inauguration beginning now with Trump. We should have said no sooner to these events but this man gives us a great reason. As your first guest so well stated, in our church appearance matters, and the appearance of the choir at this event reflects more negatively on us as Latter-Day Saints and the institution than the appearance of NOT supporting the institution and office of the United States. As another one of your contributors said: Choose the right and let the consequences follow. While I agree with this, unfortunately, it will appear the church chose the political right and we are already experiencing unhappy consequences.

  8. Michael Lee

    This is a no-brainer. We are on the cusp of a major change in our society – one which devalues honest, decency and ethics. This Inauguration will be examined for decades, perhaps hundreds of years to come. People will ask, as we do today about Nazi Germany – why didn’t anyone do anything? The answer will be that everyone was concerned with short-term consequences, no one really believed so much harm could be done. No one knew when enough was enough. Well we are at that time – ENOUGH! NOW is the time to take a stand. There is no excuse – DROP OUT NOW.

  9. Jonathan Atkinson

    I can’t do with this kind of Traditional nonsense that permeates through the Church and particularly with that mediocre organization the MTC they should be based in Wales and eventually disbanded or go to sweep up at Kings College Cambridge and individually auditioned for the like or indeed any other first class Choir (Sixteen or Monteverdi Choir or any other beautiful entity) Do we have suffer at every conference and endure to the end along with the plastic flowers and any other Mom and Apple pie Monolithe we have to endure….. I suppose the next thing will be a repo of the Garden Tomb in Temple square or Vegas ….Is it just this American thing of white angle socks and Clone hair do’s that try to convince people that Jesus was born, bred, and indeed died in SLC Give it a rest please ….I am so glad that I was sent to Yorkshire England to try and survive this life,,,, The Wife’s ancestors founded a town called Paradise in Utah but She is so glad She was born in Yorkshire England I have a similar Ancestry as JS Yorkshire/ England/Scotland but I don’t drool over these things associated with the American Way thank God for me it is Jerusalem not the American supported fascist occupied west bank Jerusalem but more the Abraham and camels kind of Jerusalem in ones mind You can keep yer plastic flowers MTC and the rest there is more to Christ than this nonsense and indeed political fanfare and excess hooping and hollering and the like By ya’ll

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