I have been a very vocal Trump dissident. I’m far from pleased he’s going to be my president for the next four years (unless maybe he pulls a Palin and just resigns. One can always hope, right?). And so to see the news that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will be performing at his inauguration disappointed me at first blush. I’ve got close family ties to the choir, after all, and so in a way it feels like part of my extended-extended family is turning out to celebrate the weasel.
That said, after some consideration, I really don’t think the church had another choice. Once the invitation was sent, they pretty much had to agree to do it. I mean, they could have “been busy doing something else,” but unless that “something else” had already been very public and very well-established, then they were stuck. (Of course, it might have been a good idea to find “something else” to do that day the moment the results had been announced, but I can’t really blame them for not doing that.)
Motab has performed at many inaugurations. To decline to perform, they’d have to have a reason other than “We don’t like Trump.” Why? Because it might be seen as the church being partisan. Making a political statement about the president-elect. And the church can’t do that. Why? Because then it would start to really violate some of the basic rules of being a religion in the US. Run afoul of those laws, and you lose a whole bundle of benefits. Tax exempt status being a huge one, but I could see the change impacting many different ways the church operates in this country and abroad. Employment rules, BYU, contracts, wedding ceremonies . . . I’m not a lawyer, but my guess is “You’re not a recognized religion anymore” would mess with a ton of those.
And what would it benefit the church to do that? To risk all that so they could thumb their noses at the next president? I don’t think that would have been a wise decision.
In the end, they can argue that they’re honoring the position, not the man. And that’s really how it should be.
There are many things to be upset and worried about with Trump coming to power. That the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is singing at his inauguration comes about as low on the list as I can think.