When the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs at President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration January 20, they'll be short one chorister. Last week, Jan Chamberlain announced on Facebook that she is resigning from the choir because she sees singing for Trump as endorsing fascism.
"Looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and facism [sic] by singing for this man," she wrote in a Facebook post that has since been deleted.
Chamberlin added that the performance will betray the choir's values. She believes "[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."
Her resignation is an effort to prevent the mistakes of the 20th century from happening again.
"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."
And she's calling on fellow Americans to stand up and resist the insidious growth of tyranny in America.
"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."
Others see performance as MTC tradition
In response to Chamberlin's resignation, MTC spokesperson Eric Hawkins released a statement saying participating in the Inauguration Day festivities isn't an endorsement of Trump.
"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."
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed at five presidential inaugurations: beginning with Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964 and including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
Hawkins added that the choir's involvement is part of American democratic values. "It is a demonstration of our support for freedom, civility and the peaceful transition of power.”
Some choir members agree, even though they don't like Trump. Erika Munson - co-founder of the LGBTQ outreach group Mormons Building Bridges - says that her husband, a MTC member, plans to sing at the inauguration even though he personally dislikes Trump.
"For him, he feels like it's his duty to support the Constitution and the inaugural process," she told NPR. "And as a citizen, he thinks that's important. He didn't vote for Trump. He doesn't like Trump one bit."
And singing for Trump wasn't mandatory for choristers. According to Hawkins, Chamberlin could have abstained from the event without having to resign. "Participation in the choir, including the performance at the Inauguration, is voluntary."
But that arguably makes her decision to take a stand more compelling since it was a matter of choice rather than obligation. "I simply cannot continue [in the choir] with the recent turn of events," she wrote on Facebook. "I could never look myself in the mirror again with self-respect."
Trump's inauguration woes continue
Chamberlin's protest is the latest wrinkle in Trump's inauguration plans. The transition team has struggled to find performers willing to sing for him January 20. So far, they've been turned down by Garth Brooks, Andrea Bocelli, Elton John and other performers.
So the Trump might have to dust off this song and serenade himself at the National Mall.
Banner image: Facebook.com/MormonTabernacleChoir