Mormon Tabernacle Choir Member Quits Rather Than Perform for Trump: 'I Could Never Look Myself in the Mirror Again with Self Respect'
After running an 18-month presidential campaign based on overt racism and misogyny, Donald Trump has had difficulty getting famous people to publicly attach their names to his by performing at his inauguration ball. Previous inaugurations for incoming presidents have included long lists of high-profile entertainers, but Trump’s inauguration will feature only a short list of less-than in-demand acts, some of whom have publicly complained about being coerced to appear.
Now, there’s yet more bad news for the great dictator: A member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which is slated to appear at Trump’s inauguration, has resigned in protest. In a perfectly worded letter of resignation posted on Facebook, the singer writes that if she were to participate in the inauguration performance, she “could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect.”
Jan Chamberlin’s lengthy message explains how she wrestled with the idea of appearing at Trump’s event, finally arriving at the decision to step down from the choir instead. “For me, this is a HUGELY moral issue,” she states in the post.
“Since the 'announcement,' I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony,” Chamberlin writes. “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 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.”
Warning that “tyranny is now on our doorstep,” Chamberlin, a member of the choir for five years, goes on to state that she joined the group in honor of her father, “an expert airforce bomber” who “hated tyranny and was extremely distraught over the Holocaust.” She suggests that Trump presents the same dangers as those her father fought against.
“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 writes. “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...I only know I could never 'throw roses to Hitler.' And I certainly could never sing for him."
“My heart is shattered and broken...but my conscience is clear. And THAT, really is all that matters,” the message concludes.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed for numerous incoming presidents, including George H. W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, the Salt Lake Tribune notes. This is the first time an upcoming performance has spawned a petition demanding the choir not take part. The protest document, created by lifelong Mormon Randall Thacker, states that the choir should not appear at an event celebrating “an incoming president who has demonstrated sexist, racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic behavior that does not align with the principles and teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
There have been plenty of other controversies around the Trump inauguration, as other performers have openly complained that they have been forced to participate. After sustained public outcry, the union that represents members of the Radio City Rockettes said that participation in the inauguration will be voluntary. Still, dancers are justifiably worried that not signing up could do irreparable harm to their careers. In an interview with Marie Claire, an anonymous Rockette said that some dancers have still been willing to decline appearing, despite the threat of being fired. She also noted that no dancers of color have volunteered to dance that day, a choice that’s doubly brave, considering the lack of diversity in a fiercely competitive field means there are few other opportunities for employment. “It's become a moral issue at this point,” the dancer told the magazine. “I feel like dancing for Trump would be disrespecting the men and women who work with us, the people we care about."
The Wrap previously reported that the Trump team is so desperate for A-listers to perform, it has offered seven-figure fees and ambassadorships as bribes. With no apparent takers, Trump went to Twitter to express his sour grapes.
“The so-called 'A' list celebrities are all wanting tixs to the inauguration, but look what they did for Hillary, NOTHING,” Trump wrote in a tweet widely mocked across the internet. “I want the PEOPLE!”
The list of celebrities who have turned down Trump’s invitation to appear at his inauguration include Elton John, KISS, Lady Gaga, Garth Brooks and Celine Dion, among many others. Kevin Levitan, a music manager whose client roster includes performers whose politics run the gamut, explained why entertainers across the board have refused to be a part of the event.
"Even if you're a Trump supporter, you've got to look at how he plays the media [and] the public, in terms of how he attacks and twists things around,” Levitan told Rolling Stone. “I've got to think there's a fear of talking about things and working with him," Levitan continues. "I do know some of the very conservative [artists] have no desire to do it... [They] just don't want to be involved in the circus — it's a media circus, and not necessarily in a good way."