In a heartfelt and piercing resignation letter, a singer in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir outlined why she is quitting the choir rather than perform at Donald Trump‘s inauguration.
“Looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and facism [sic] by singing for this man,” Jan Chamberlin, a five-year veteran of the choir, wrote to choir president Ron Jarrett in an email she also shared on Facebook, the Salt Lake City Tribune reports.
“And [the] Choir’s wonderful image and networking will be severely damaged and that many good people throughout this land and throughout the world already do and will continue to feel betrayed. I believe hereafter our message will not be believed by many that have loved us and adored what we have stood for. I know that I too feel betrayed.”
In addition to conflicts between her Christian faith and the incoming administration, especially toward its stance on refugees, Chamberlin cited other historical red flags that caused her to resign from the choir out of protest.
“History is repeating itself; the same tactics are being used by Hitler (identify a problem, finding a scapegoat target to blame, and stirring up people with a combination of fanaticism, false promises, and fear, and gathering the funding),” she wrote. “I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him.”
Prior to posting her resignation letter, Chamberlin shared a Change.org petition demanding that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir withdraw from the Trump inauguration.
Chamberlin added, “Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth. Now it will burst into our homes through storm. I hope that we and many others will work together with greater diligence and awareness to calmly and bravely work together to defend our freedoms and our rights for our families, our friends, and our fellow citizens. I hope we can throw off the labels and really listen to each other with respect, love, compassion, and a true desire to bring our energies and souls together in solving the difficult problems that lie in our wake.”
The Mormon Tabernacle Church did not comment to the Salt Lake City Tribune regarding Chamberlin’s resignation, but stated that participation was not mandatory among the choir’s 360 singers; only 215 of those can volunteer for the trip to Washington, D.C. for the January 20th inauguration.
“Participation in the choir, including the performance at the Inauguration, is voluntary,” a church spokesman said in a statement Thursday. “Only a limited number of choir members are participating (the number is limited by the inaugural committee), and none are required to participate.”
“Response to the announcement has been mixed, with people expressing both opposition and support,” the spokesman added. “The Choir’s participation continues its long tradition of performing for U.S. presidents of both parties at Inaugurations and in other settings, and is not an implied support of party affiliations or politics. It is a demonstration of our support for freedom, civility and the peaceful transition of power.”
In Chamberlin’s post, she admitted that she considered simply skipping the inauguration while continuing to perform with the Choir. However, “I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self-respect,” she wrote.
Chamberlin’s viral resignation arrives a week after a member of the Rockettes penned a similar note on social media protesting that dancing troupe’s involvement in the Trump inauguration.
“Finding out that it has been decided for us that Rockettes will be performing at the Presidential inauguration makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed,” dancer Phoebe Pearl wrote. “The women I work with are intelligent and are full of love and the decision of performing for a man that stands for everything we’re against is appalling.”
While initial reports stated that Rockettes members’ participation was mandatory, the Madison Square Garden Company later clarified that dancers “must voluntarily sign up and are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural.” According to one Rockette who remained anonymous, many Rockettes are concerned about performing for Trump, who bragged about groping and sexually assaulting women.
With three weeks before the inauguration, only the Rockettes, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and America’s Got Talent singer Jackie Evancho have been recruited by the Trump team to perform January 20th as countless artists – even Trump-leaning ones – avoid embroiling themselves in the situation.
“This is not Woodstock,” Trump advisor Boris Epshteyn said Tuesday of the inauguration. “It’s not Summer Jam. It’s not a concert. It’s not about celebrities. As Donald Trump tweeted himself, it’s about the people. That’s what we’re concentrated on.”