The Harlem Gospel Choir announced Monday that it won't be performing in a simulcast of Glenn Beck's holiday film "The Christmas Sweater - A Return To Redemption," which opens in nationwide release on Thursday.
The last-minute bail was due to financial reasons, the choir said. However, James Rucker, executive director of Color Of Change, the online advocacy group that has spearheaded the advertiser boycott of Glenn Beck's television show, told the New York Daily News that the Harlem Gospel Choir pulled out of the performance after he contacted them about Beck's widely publicized antics.
"We wanted to make sure they understood who Beck was," Rucker told the Daily News. "We believe their mission is about spreading the Gospel and and promoting harmony, and we thought Beck was the antithesis of that."
The Daily News reports:
Rucker sent the choir excerpts from some of Beck's shows, including one where he said President Obama "has a deep-seated hatred for white people."
Anna Bailey, the choir's manager, said the decision to pull out was purely financial.
"I had to gracefully back out," she said. "There wasn't enough money to pay our agent's commission. "
Bailey said the choir does not play politics, and the group was unaware that critics consider Beck racist.
In a blog posted on the Huffington Post Tuesday, Rucker wrote:
The Christmas Sweater is part of Beck's effort to present himself as someone who represents mainstream American values. His desire to work with the Harlem Gospel Choir serves that goal, and it would have helped him position himself as embracing black people while his rhetoric works against the interests of not only black folks but most Americans.
That's what makes the Harlem Gospel Choir's refusal to perform with Beck so important -- they are world-famous for spreading a message of peace, love, unity and respect. They've performed for Nelson Mandela, in honor of Dr. King, and before Pope John Paul II. They have proudly represented one of black America's oldest musical traditions around the world, and now they have refused to allow their name and their legacy to be used by someone like Glenn Beck.