Late last week, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir announced they had accepted an invitation to sing at the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on January 20, 2017.
The announcement was immediately met with controversy. An online petition was started by members stating the choir, which acts as an ambassador for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, should decline the invitation after such a bitter and divided presidential election. Church spokesman Eric Hawkins released a statement to the opposition:
“Response to the announcement has been mixed, with people expressing both opposition and support,” he said.”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.”
However, one soprano in the choir, has resigned rather than sing for Trump. The resignation is gaining national attention.
Jan Chamberlin, who has been with the choir for five years and owns a vocal studio in Utah, posted her resignation letter on Facebook yesterday afternoon.
“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.”
Chamberlin also compared Trump to Hitler when she wrote “I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him.”
As with the announcement from the choir, Chamberlin’s post was met with controversy. Early today, she posted another comment after her original post received nearly 800 comments.
“Well, let’s see. Today I’ve been called many things, such as bigot, selfish, self righteous, closed minded, and I believe also disrespectful. Also implied comments to question my character. And previously unpatriotic, unfaithful to God and faith, and not a good hard working Choir member. I think that’s hilarious!
Shall we get back to the topic at hand, which I believe was standing up for freedom, fighting against tyranny, and standing true to the values and morals we’ve been taught by God.
I am interested in having dialogue on THAT topic and working together to see how we can work together to do that.”
Hawkins released another statement that made it clear singing at the inauguration is voluntary
“Participation in the choir, including the performance at the Inauguration, is voluntary. Only a limited number of choir members are participating (the number is limited by the inaugural committee), and none are required to participate,” Hawkins said.