A member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has resigned in protest over the group’s decision to sing at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, saying “it will appear that [the] Choir is endorsing tyranny and [fascism] by singing for this man.”
The famous choir, which is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), first announced its decision to perform at Trump’s inauguration last week. The news sparked controversy among Mormons—many of whom are deeply ambivalent about Trump—but organizers justified the decision by noting that the group has performed at the inaugural celebrations of both Republican and Democratic presidents.
But as first reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, the reasoning was not enough for at least one performer: Jan Chamberlin, a member of the choir, published a Facebook post on Thursday morning announcing she would rather quit than sing for Trump.
“Since ‘the announcement,’ I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony…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’ve tried to tell myself that it will be all right and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man.” Chamberlin wrote. “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 rooted her decision in opposition to Trump and his policy proposals, which she believes to be tyrannical. She also referenced the need to protect refugees, a subject that has already put Trump at odds with many Mormons: his proposal to ban Muslim immigration was condemned by the LDS church itself, in part because it recalled a time when Mormons endured violence at the hands of the U.S. government.
“Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth,” she wrote. “We must continue our love and support for the refugees and the oppressed by fighting against these great evils.”
She concluded by implicitly comparing Trump to Adolf Hitler.
“I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him,” she wrote.
Chamberlin’s resignation will likely build momentum for a movement calling on the choir to rescind its decision to perform for Trump. A petition asking the group to cancel was created within hours of the announcement, and now boasts more than 20,000 signatures.
“The Church’s participation will harm this spectacularly talented and beloved choir’s image, misrepresent the diversity of Mormons worldwide, and sends the wrong message to LDS children as they will perceive the Church’s participation as endorsement of a president whose words and actions do not align with our values,” the petition reads.
Although Mormons are the most reliably Republican religious group in America, anti-Trump sentiment is common among LDS members, as many disagree with the President-elect on issues such as immigration and religious freedom. Although Trump won Mormon-heavy Utah in the general election, he did so without the support of the Republican Lt. Governor, and claimed one of the smallest victory margins of any Republican in decades with only 45 percent of the vote (by contrast, Mitt Romney won the state with 72.6 percent in 2012). Hillary Clinton won 27 percent of the vote, but 21 percent of Utah voters chose Mormon independent conservative candidate and vocal Trump opponent Evan McMullin instead.