A member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir resigned in an emotional message posted to Facebook on Thursday. The group is scheduled to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
The singer, Jan Chamberlin, wrote that she feels “betrayed” by the group’s decision to perform and “certainly could never sing for” Trump.
“It is with a sad and heavy heart that I submit my resignation to you and to Choir,” Chamberlin wrote.
Late in the note, she continued, “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. That is the image Choir wishes to present and the message they desperately want to send,” he wrote. “I also know, looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and [fascism] by singing for this man.”
A spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told the Salt Lake City Tribune in a statement that the performance is “voluntary.” In fact, according to the choir’s website, “All 360 members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and all 110 members of the Orchestra at Temple Square are unpaid volunteers.” Admission to join the choir is a “rigorous” audition process from members of the church who are recommended by their bishops, within a designated age range and live within a certain radius of Salt Lake City.
The church announced last week that it had accepted an invitation to sing at the swearing in ceremony, as it did for George H.W. Bush in 1989, Richard Nixon in 1969 and Lyndon Johnson in 1965. It also performed in inaugural parades for George W. Bush in 2001, Bush in 1989 and Ronald Reagan in 1981.
Donald Trump claimed in a tweet earlier this month that “so-called A-list celebrities” want tickets to his inauguration, but he wants “the people” to attend instead. The tweet, which did not name any specific celebrities, came after a number of Hollywood figures, including Elton John and David Foster, reportedly turned down invitations to perform. Jackie Evancho, who was a contestant on “America’s Got Talent,” is slated to perform, as are the Radio City Rockettes and possibly the Beach Boys, according to recent reports.
Chamberlin, on Thursday, added her voice to the dissent.
“I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect,” she wrote, adding, “I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him.”
Similar sentiments were also shared earlier this month by a member of the Radio City Rockettes who took to Instagram to express “embarrassment” and “disappointment” for the group’s involvement. “I am speaking for just myself but please know that after we found out this news, we have been performing with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts,” she wrote. American Guild of Variety Artists and Madison Square Garden Company have both since confirmed that the performance is voluntary as well.
The Trump inaugural committee on Friday released a list of participants in the inaugural parade, including Wounded Warriors, the Boy Scouts of America and a number of high school and college marching bands.
Read Chamberlin’s full statement below:
Ted Johnson contributed to this report.