A Mormon who said his “heart sank” when he heard that the church’s beloved Tabernacle Choir will perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration has launched a petition to urge the group not to go to Washington, D.C.
“I love the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The thought of this choir and Mormonism being forever associated with a man who disparages minorities, brags about his sexual control of women, encourages intolerance and traffics in hate speech and bullying, was unacceptable,” Randall Thacker said in a statement. “I immediately knew there were probably thousands of people who felt the same way, so I created the space on Change.org for like-minded Mormons and their friends to share their feelings.”
About 215 of the choir’s 360 members are expected to perform at the inauguration, church officials have told The Salt Lake City Tribune.
By Thursday evening, nearly 19,000 people had signed the petition, which is seeking 25,000 signatures. The petition urges the Mormon Tabernacle Choir not to perform for an “incoming president who has demonstrated sexist, racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic behavior that does not align with the principles and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Most of the signatures are from LDS members around the world, according to Thacker, a lifelong member of the church.
The petition also encourages people to call and write the church to give their reasons for signing. Several mention that Trump’s values are incompatible with Mormonism or that the church should never become associated with politics. One quips: Conservative rocker “Ted Nugent and the choir? I don’t think so!” Another writes: “Horrible values. Separation of church and state. Pay your taxes.”
Gina Colvin, an LDS scholar and Maori writer in New Zealand, told the Tribune that the choir’s planned participation in the inauguration “speaks to me of how little moral care the church has for the international cultural and political diversity of our church.”
Thacker and other supporters plan to personally deliver the petition to the choir and church officials in the coming week, reports the Utah Standard-Examiner.
There was no immediate comment from Trump.
The president-elect’s team has struggled to find performers for his inauguration. The Rockettes will appear, though performers are upset, according to one dancer. “This is not a Republican or Democrat issue … this is an issue of racism and sexism, something that’s much bigger than politics,” she said in an interview.