The Harlem Gospel Choir has backed out of a holiday performance with controversial conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck, the Daily News has learned.
The famous choir, which has performed for Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II, was set to appear in the simulcast film of Beck's novel "The Christmas Sweater - A Return to Redemption," which opens Thursday in theaters nationwide.
The choir canceled the appearance Monday, citing financial reasons.
James Rucker, executive director of Color for Change - which has helped persuade more than 80 advertisers to ditch Beck's show - said the group did an about-face after he called the choir.
"We wanted to make sure they understood who Beck was," Rucker said. "We believe their mission is about spreading the Gospel and and promoting harmony, and we thought Beck was the antithesis of that."
Rucker said the choir's director, Allen Bailey, was hesitant at first.
"They said they didn't know about Glenn Beck," Rucker said. "Their first reaction was, 'Maybe he's a redeemed man.'"
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.
"We don't take a political stance," she said. "This is America. Glenn Beck can believe and say what he believes. He has a good forum for him to do that and God bless that. It was just a slight confusion when the booking was made."
Rucker insisted the decision was based on Beck's ideology.
"I think this whole matter makes them nervous," he said. "Who wants to be on the other side of Glenn Beck?"