Friday, December 30, 2016

Mormons Openly Criticize Decision of Tabernacle Choir to Sing for Trump — While Lay Catholic Intellectual Leaders Discipline Those Criticizing Dolan's Decision to Bless Trump

A member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir says she has resigned from the famed group over its decision to perform at next month's inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. 
Jan Chamberlin posted her resignation letter to choir leaders on her Facebook page Thursday. In it, she writes that by performing at the Jan. 20 inaugural, the 360-member choir will appear to be "endorsing tyranny and facism." She says she feels betrayed by the choir's decision to take part.

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 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.

Faithful Mormons can speak out when they see Mormon leaders and institutions offering a blessing to what must not be blessed, but should be repudiated by those who adhere to core Mormon values. Let Catholics try to do the same, however, and they'll find themselves quickly disciplined by the lay intellectual leaders of the American Catholic church, several of whom spent yesterday doing what they do best — letting fellow Catholics to the left of the Catholic center as they wish to define it know that their left-wing criticisms are unacceptable in the Catholic circle.

As several faithful Mormons of strong conscience speak out about the betrayal of core Mormon values with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing at Donald Trump's inauguration, I was beyond appalled yesterday to see lay Catholic intellectual leaders Michael O'Loughlin of America and Charles Camosy of Crux taking nasty pot shots on Twitter at Loren Moreno for daring to criticize Dolan's choice to offer Trump a blessing on behalf of the U.S. Catholic bishops.

Mormons of conscience can speak out about the betrayal of core Mormon values as their famed choir sings at Trump's inauguration. But let a Catholic try to do the same, naming Cardinal Dolan's decision to bless the Trump presidency as a betrayal of core Catholic values, and he or she can expect to find himself/herself quickly savaged by the lay Catholic intellectual leaders who write for the leading U.S. Catholic "liberal" Catholic journals and who define what opinions may or may not be permitted to be voiced in "the" Catholic conversation — as these journals establish it.

America can hire Helen Alvaré with her history of attacking LGBTQ rights, claiming as it does so that the Catholic conversation in the U.S. needs to be broad and inclusive, and to represent all sorts of constituencies. But it cannot and will not hire an openly gay Catholic journalist who speaks out of her or his experience of living as an openly gay Catholic.

Some conversations — which means, some people — are beyond the Catholic pale. For those who control the public conversation of American Catholicism, there are clear limits to inclusion. Those limits stop at the door of sexual orientation; they form a door slammed in the face of fellow human beings who are LGBTQ. They reinforce the messsage of magisterial teaching that mercy and welcome are limited and conditional, when the lives and humanity of LGBTQ people are under consideration.

I need to make a new year's resolution to stop altogether listening to or reading what any of these folks write. What they've made of the brand of American Catholicism is poisonous to my spiritual life, and to my soul.

I've gradually been weeding them out of my Twitter feed so that I don't have to deal with the steady drip of smugness and complacency, the supercilious dismissal of the voices — of the humanity and lives — of anyone outside their narrow elitist circles, the shocking willingness to bend over backwards to bless and normalize even Donald Trump, because (let's all pretend together) he's "pro-life" and Hillary Clinton was not.

These people brought us Donald Trump, by behaving this way, and the election of Donald Trump is not going to mend their ways. Not in the least. Because they listen only to Cabots and Lodges like themselves, they do not have the perspective or insights necessary to see themselve and what they're doing in the critical light that would conduce to a mending of their ways. When they're willing to bless even Donald Trump and to pretend that even Donald Trump is pro-life, they're fairly much a total wash-out as exemplars of Catholic values and ideas, are they not?

Many of these same lay Catholic intellectual leaders also spent yesterday shopping around Emma Green's new Atlantic piece which offers us — yet again — the very tired claim that the Democrats are tone-deaf when it comes to religion and religious matters, in contrast to the Republicans, who are fine religious folks. In this instance, Green is echoing conservative white evangelical Michael Wear, who claims to have an insider perspective on the Democrats' religion problem from his time serving on Obama's team.

The Republicans own religion, you see. They understand religion and religious people.

Michael J. Barber and his stirring address at the Democratic National Convention? That's not religion. The Nuns on the Bus? Not religion.

Religion is the GOP brand. It's who Republicans are and what they do.

Republicans are pro-life. Democrats are the opposite.

And so it makes all the sense in the world for Cardinal Dolan to bless Donald Trump on behalf of the U.S. Catholic community, because what he's blessing is religion, religious values, the value of life. Just as it made sense for the German and Austrian Catholic bishops to bless Hitler. 

Just as it made sense for the white evangelical churches with whom these "pro-life" Catholics have allied themselves to bless slaveholders and segregationists.

If you're a Catholic who wants to raise your voice against Cardinal Dolan's blessing of Donald Trump on behalf of the U.S. Catholic bishops, you can expect to find yourself swiftly and imperiously shut out of "the" Catholic conversation with taunts about how you're a virtue-shaming Pharisee. And these taunts will be issued by people writing for Catholic journals that welcome the views of right-wing Catholics, including anti-LGBTQ ones, with open arms.

Because the conversation needs to be broad and inclusive, they tell us.

Please see the next posting for a link to and discussion of Jan Chamberlin's open letter explaining why she resigned from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in protest of its decision to sing for Trump.

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