Poor Donald Trump. He’s giving a YUGE party in Washington, D.C. on January 20, and nobody wants to provide the entertainment.
Virtually everybody who is anybody in popular culture at the moment has taken a pass on joining the inaugural festivities, leaving a very short list of performers. And there is mounting pressure on some of those acts to withdraw.
The biggest controversy involves Radio City Music Hall’s famous Rockettes. Reports early on Friday said the dance troupe was being forced to perform for the incoming God-Emperor under threat of losing their jobs. But the media attention surrounding the issue has caused Madison Square Garden Entertainment, the company that manages the Rockettes, to issue a statement that no members of the group are under any obligation to perform at this or any other event.
One of the other groups that has been confirmed for the inauguration is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. That group has performed at the inaugurals of five other presidents, all of them Republican save Lyndon Johnson in 1964. On Thursday the Mormon Church issued a press release announcing the group’s participation.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has a great tradition of performing at the inaugurals of U.S. presidents. Singing the music of America is one of the things we do best. We are honored to be able to serve our country by providing music for the inauguration of our next president.
That announcement generated calls for the choir to cancel their planned performance. On Thursday a petition began circulating on Change.org calling on the Mormon church and the leadership of the choir to withdraw from the festivities.
The petition, started by Randall Thacker, himself a Mormon, reads in part,
We, as signers of this petition, believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ decision to allow the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to perform at the upcoming presidential inauguration of Donald Trump DOES NOT reflect the values of Mormonism and does not represent its diverse 15+ million members worldwide.
Thacker’s petition calls for the church to prohibit the choir from performing at this and future inaugurations, arguing that doing so would give the impression that the church endorses the policies of the incoming president. In urging the church to end the practice of inaugural performances he refers specifically to Trump’s “sexist, racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic behavior,” saying such behavior “does not align with the principles and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
So far Thacker’s petition has received almost 8,000 signatures. Over 200 more people have signed in just the time it has taken to write this story. But it’s not likely to have any influence. The LDS church is one of the most conservative religious denominations in the country. Even if the church or the choir has concerns about Trump they are probably delighted to perform for incoming vice president Mike Pence, who is a staunch “Christian” conservative.
Christmas comes on December 25. But if the Mormon Tabernacle Choir were to decide to back out of their inaugural performance January 20 could be another “Silent Night.”