Mormon choir performance at Trump inauguration draws ire

Posted at 4:18 PM, Dec 23, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The announcement that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will perform at President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration ceremony hasn't been met with universal applause.

Former choir member John Bonner, for one, said he was shocked and upset when he heard the news.

"I expect the church to stand on their moral high ground," Bonner told KUTV in Salt Lake City.

An online petition calling on the group to reconsider has thousands of signatures.

Erika Munson, co-founder of the pro-LGBT rights group Mormons Building Bridges, said the performance will be seen as the faith's official stamp of approval for Trump.

She told KUER-FM that she and other Mormons are feeling "huge disappointment, sadness and anger over this."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledged that the response to the announcement has been mixed, though church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement that the appearance is a demonstration of support for the office rather than party affiliations or politics.

Two Mormon visitors to Salt Lake City's Temple Square, Gary Hutchings and Brad Holland, told the radio station that they were excited to hear the choir will have a high-profile platform to help the country pull together.

The choir has performed at other inaugurals for presidents, including George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. The choir's president said the group is honored to appear at the Jan. 20 swearing-in ceremony for Trump as well.

But many voters in majority-Mormon Utah bristled at Trump's brash demeanor and his comments about women, minorities and Muslims during his campaign.

Many of Utah's leaders and prominent Mormon elected officials refused to back Trump, such as Gov. Gary Herbert, Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Mia Love, while others flipped between supporting and denouncing the brash billionaire.

He ended up winning the largely Republican state but with a lower margin than previous GOP candidates.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir isn't the only group facing a backlash after announcing an appearance at Trump's inauguration.

One of the Radio City Rockettes took to Instagram to say she was embarrassed about the gig, and online critics are urging a boycott.