Jan Chamberlin of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir made a difficult decision when faced with the prospect of performing for President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration, but now that she has quit the choir, she said her conscience is clear.
Chamberlin took to Facebook to share a copy of the letter she sent to the choir to explain why she was leaving.
"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," she said. "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."
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the choir is not requiring any of its 360 volunteer singers to perform at the inauguration. But Chamberlin felt a moral imperative to leave the choir after management announced that they would be performing for Trump's inauguration.
"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," Chamberlin said. "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 (sic) 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."
The choir's website states that "central to its success is the ability of its 360 members to lift the spirits of people of diverse cultures, ages, and religions all over the world." Performing for a man who has verbally attacked and maligned the diverse groups within America does not seem to match up with the choir's intended message.
Randall Thacker, a pro-LGBT member of the Mormon church, started a petition against the choir performing for Trump's inauguration, which now has more than 20,000 signatures from other Mormons who feel that endorsing Trump is the wrong decision for their church.
Despite the fact that there are many who agree with her, it is no small thing that Chamberlin — who says she has been with the choir for five years — is giving up her place in its ranks. According to the choir's FAQs, applicants "undergo a rigorous audition process consisting of three phases, which take place over approximately six months." They must also be members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, come with recommendations from their bishop, and fall within the age restrictions.
But Chamberlin did not let her love of the choir, or the prestige of her role in it, get in the way of doing what she felt was right. In her letter, she compared Trump to Hitler and his election to the rise of fascism.
"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," Chamberlain cautioned.
"I only know I could never 'throw roses to Hitler,'" she said. "And I certainly could never sing for him."
Chamberlin's sacrifice is an admirable one and certainly came from the convictions of her faith and her respect for diversity. As thousands prepare to march across the nation in protest of Trump's inauguration, she will be in good company. Whether or not other members of the choir will follow her remains to be seen.
Banner Image Credit: Flickr, Laurel F.