The Mormon Tabernacle Choir On the World Stage

January 4, 2017

A Reaction to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Singing at the Inauguration

By: Andrea
Mormon Tabernacle Choir at Inauguration

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing at the inauguration of President George H.W. Bush in 1989.


Have you ever had an issue totally get under your skin, even though you completely understood both sides of the argument? But the one side… URGH! It just bothers you so badly!

Well, I’ve had one of those this past week. Enter the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And Donald Trump. Bet you never thought you’d see those two names together.

Let me fill you in, in case you are unaware. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir accepted an invitation to perform in just a few weeks at the presidential inauguration. The MoTab, as they are nicknamed, is a distinguished choir who is part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the church of which I am a member. They have sung at several other inaugurations over the past several decades, and I suppose you could even go so far as saying performing at presidential inaugurations is one of the MoTab’s traditions. For those unfamiliar with their history, the choir has performed at several inaugurations over the past century, including for George H.W. Bush in 1989, Richard Nixon in 1969, and Lyndon Johnson in 1965. They’ve also performed in inaugural parades for George W. Bush in 2001, George H.W. Bush in 1989 and Ronald Reagan in 1981. President Reagan dubbed them “America’s choir.” And quite frankly, patriotic music is what they do best.

Well, members of the church, and others, blew up at the news, completely outraged over this. “How could the church allow this? How could the choir perform for such a vile and disgusting man? How could this be? Why was this allowed? Who made this decision? This will hurt the church so badly! This appears to be an endorsement! How can they endorse HIM!? Where will people turn? This will be the downfall of…” Even a member of the choir quit the choir entirely over the news. I get it. I do. Except the quitting part. That part I don’t really get.

I suppose drama, and the pursuit thereof, is one of my pet peeves. And this topic seems so unnecessarily dramatic to me. Which is why it has gotten so under my skin.

I understand why people are upset by this. They cannot possibly see how President-elect Trump’s ideals align with the church’s high standards. They don’t align in the slightest.

But… I guess I see it differently.

Millions of people will be watching Mr. Trump be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. What a tremendous opportunity to be on the world stage. Not only as a missionary moment, but as an opportunity to spread a message of peace, good will, and hope, regardless of political affiliations. The choir is not singing for Mr. Trump. They are singing for our nation. To you, to me. To remind us what it means to love our nation and the republic that it stands for. It’s a message of unity our country sorely needs at this precise moment. To turn down the invitation would have made the Church look petty, partisan, and go against every standard the Church tries so adamantly to teach… forgiveness, turning the other cheek, standing up for morals and values, and spreading love to all those around us.

For those who fear it might steer soul-seekers in another direction, think about what it might do instead. Perhaps it will rid everyone of that fear (even for just a moment) and instead fill the stage of the inauguration on the steps of our United States Capitol, and all those watching from across the globe, with a warmth, strength and spirit so many people are craving in this war-ravaged and moral-deduced world.

I guess that’s what’s been bothering me so badly about all this. This issue is only decisive because people are missing the mark entirely. They think the inauguration equates Trump. But it doesn’t. Partly, sure. But symbolically and entirely, no. I didn’t care much for President Obama and his policies, I didn’t vote for him, but I went to his inauguration and LOVED every second of it. It was spectacular on so many levels. My patriotic self walked away with my patriotism at a whole new level. I think the choir member who quit the Mormon Tabernacle Choir entirely missed the mark. They didn’t even have to sing at the inauguration if they didn’t want to. There’s only a limited number of spaces for them on stage anyway. There’s something more at stake here than singing for some dude you don’t like. And that’s the point, I suppose, I was trying to make. This entire debate was over dramatized because people are missing the mark.  

So instead of fearing what singing at the inauguration might do, or how it might look to the rest of the world, I’m going to hope for the good that might come from it instead.



Author: Andrea

Former news reporter and Capitol Hill press guru, wife, mom, and pastry addict.

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