Finding performers for Donald Trump’s January 20 inauguration continues to be a fraught affair, with few mainstream performers agreeing to participate, resistance from the Rockettes (who we know can kick hard), and—now—a woman quitting the esteemed Mormon Tabernacle Choir to protest the choir’s agreement to sing at the event.
“I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler,’” wrote singer Jan Chamberlin in her resignation letter. “And I certainly could never sing for him.”
“Since the announcement, I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony. I have reflected carefully on both sides of the issue, prayed a lot, talked with family and friends, and searched my soul,” Chamberlin stated. “...But it’s no use. I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect.”
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, performing at the inauguration was optional and any choir member could opt out. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not comment on Chamberlin’s resignation, but recently admitted, in a prepared statement that many LDS members are disappointed that the choir will perform for Trump:
Response to the choir’s appearance “has been mixed, with people expressing both opposition and support,” [church spokesman Eric] Hawkins said last week in a prepared statement.
The choir’s long tradition of performing for presidents “is not an implied support of party affiliations or politics,” he said. “It is a demonstration of our support for freedom, civility and the peaceful transition of power.”
Mormon activist Randall Thacker has launched a petition to urge the LDS church to cancel the performance as Trump “does not reflect the values of Mormonism and does not represent its diverse 15-plus million members worldwide.” So far, it has approximately 19,000 signatures.
Here is Jan Chamberlin’s resignation letter—posted publicly to Facebook—in full:
Dear President Jarrett and Choir,
Today is my birthday. (Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you...........)
It is with a sad and heavy heart that I submit my resignation to you and to Choir. I’m am praying that Jesus will help me get through this email before I totally break down.
I thank you all for 5 very meaningful years. There are many memories and experiences which I will cherish and hold dear in my heart.
Since “the announcement”, I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony. I have reflected carefully on both sides of the issue, prayed a lot, talked with family and friends, and searched my soul.
I’ve tried to tell myself that by not going to the inauguration, that I would be able to stay in Choir for all the other good reasons.
I have highly valued the mission of the Choir to be good- will ambassadors for Christ, to share beautiful music and to give hope, inspiration, and comfort to others.
I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be alright and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man.
But it’s no use. I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect.
I love you all, and I know the goodness of your hearts, and your desire to go out there and show that we are politically neutral and share good will. That is the image Choir wishes to present and the message they desperately want to send.
I also know, looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and facism by singing for this man.
And 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.
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 dilligence 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.
In the show Wicked, the Wizard makes a really interesting statement. He says “ I create conflict to stay in power.” This scenario can keep us perpetually distracted and at odds with each other and keep us from working together to solve important issues. This also allows those in office to do whatever they want to unchecked. I believe this has been done to us, both cunningly and intentionally. I believe we have a lot more in common than we have in difference, and if we will listen to each other, we can learn a great deal from one another.
And we can learn to work together to defend our freedoms with sensibility and integrity.
When I first auditioned and entered Choir, it was to follow deep personal impressions, and to honor my late father, who was among the best of men. Now I must leave Choir for the same reasons. My father ( who was an expert airforce bomber) hated tyranny and was extremely distraught over the holocaust. He and Mom both loved people greatly.
I have deep patriotic feelings for this country and for the freedoms of people everywhere throughout the world. I am troubled by the problems we face which seek to destroy our love for liberty and respect for humanity internationally.
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). I plead with everyone to go back and read the books we all know on these topics and review the films produced to help us learn from these gargantuan crimes so that we will not allow them to be repeated. Evil people prosper when good people stand by and do nothing.
We must continue our love and support for the refugees and the oppressed by fighting against these great evils.
For me, this is a HUGELY moral issue. “ as he died to make men holy, let us live to make free” ( The first time I heard this beautiful piece, I was 11 years old; my brother Jim was singing in Honor Choir. IT’S message sent inspirational electricity through my soul and penetrated every fiber of my being. THIS is Choir’s true message, and we don’t want it lost by giving the opposite message).
James 1:27 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” This scripture has been resonating with me a lot lately.
I only know I could never “throw roses to Hitler.” And I certainly could never sing for him.
Much love to you all. I wish you all blessings and happiness.
My heart is shattered and broken............. but my conscience is clear. And THAT, really is all that matters.