Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Should the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Sing at Trump's Inauguration?

Having heard that a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has resigned
because as she says, "it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and
fascism by singing for this man", I thought I would look at this situation.
Here is the official statement by the Choir leader:
“The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has a great tradition of performing at the
inaugurals of U.S. presidents," said Ron Jarrett, president of the Mormon
Tabernacle Choir. "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."
Members of the 360-member volunteer choir will travel to the nation’s capital
for the historic event."

To me the position of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is that they desire to serve our country and uphold our government, not endorse a specific President. The facts support this conclusion. The articles I read gave a list of performances the Choir has given for different US Presidents.

The Choir has sung at the official swearing-in ceremonies of:
Lyndon B. Johnson (1965) D
Richard M. Nixon (1969) R
George H. W. Bush (1989)
Donald J. Trump (will sing 2017) R

They performed in inaugural parades for:
George W. Bush (2001) R
George H. W. Bush (1989) R
Ronald W. Reagan (1981) R

Other Presidential Performances: (R for Republican and D for Democrat)
William Howard Taft (1911 at the White House) R
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1958 at the White House) R
Jimmy Carter (1978 in the Salt Lake Tabernacle) D
John F. Kennedy(1963) D
Gerald Ford (1974 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.) R

The Choir sang at National broadcasts honoring the passing of these U.S. Presidents:
Franklin D. Roosevelt (April 12, 1945) D
John F. Kennedy (November 24, 1963) D

Other notable events the choir has performed at include the following:

The Choir also performed in 13 World's Fairs and Expositions

All this data brought up some more data questions. I wanted to know which presidents could the Choir have sung for, but didn't. I asked these questions. 
When was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir organized? August 1847 just 29 days after the first pioneers arrived
When did the Choir start making tours? Their first national tour was in 1893 when they went to the Chicago World's Fair. They didn't do another national tour until 1926 and did their first out of U.S. tour in 1955.
When did the Choir start making broadcasts? Since July 15, 1929, the choir has performed a weekly radio broadcast called Music & the Spoken Word, which is one of the longest-running continuous radio network broadcasts in the world.[6]
When did the Choir begin to be recognized? They began receiving prestigious awards in 1944.

My next question is what U.S. Presidents hasn't the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sung for?
It doesn't look like they could have taken a 360 person choir to Washington before 1926. Not only would it have been very expensive, but the Choir wasn't well known enough to be invited to sing at a Presidential Inauguration.  Here are the only Presidents since 1926 that the Choir has not given an performance:
Calvin Coolidge (Republican President 1923-1929)
Herbert C. Hoover (Republican President 1929-1933)
Harry S. Truman (Democratic President 1945-1953)
Bill Clinton (Democratic President 1993-2001)
Barack Obama (Democratic President 2009-2016)

I am not sure Coolidge, Hoover, or Truman should count because having a "Mormon" choir sing at this time in history might not have been very accepted. In fact it wasn't until 1965 that the Choir was asked to sing at a Presidential Election (Lyndon B Johnson, Democrat). That the Choir was not invited to sing for Clinton or Obama is significant. Having the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing for U.S. Presidents had become an accepted norm since being recognized as "America's Choir" and "a national treasure" by two presidents. 
"When the choir sang its signature song “Battle Hymn of the Republic” during the inaugural parade for President Reagan in 1981, he dubbed the choir “America’s Choir.” President George H. W. Bush called the choir “a national treasure” during his swearing-in ceremony in front of the Capitol in 1989."

Boris Epshteyn, a spokesman for Trump's inaugural festivities, simply said, "We're honored to have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform in the 58th Inauguration, their sixth time participating in inaugural ceremonies, and we look forward to their uplifting performance."

I hope so too. It would be wonderful if the Mormon Tabernacle Choir could bring some hope and peace to the inauguration and perhaps to the new presidency. If the Choir could help remind us all of the greatness America can have, that would be a great gift to give our nation. We need all the positive influences we can have at this time.  From my research, it does not look like singing for a president, selling him food, allowing him to broadcast on your network, or any such thing means that you are supporting "tyranny and fascism ". It just indicates a willingness to support the democratic process. We do not fight, as is done in dictatorships, to depose rulers we don't like. We accept the legally elected new President, even if we disagree with his platform. This is what has kept our country together. This firm commitment to democracy is what makes America strong.  I wonder if people realize how serious this situation is. If we do not accept our new President, we will divide our country in half, risking riot and the disintegration of our government. With so much at stake, even I would sing at the inauguration!

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