Soprano quits Mormon Tabernacle Choir, won't sing at inauguration

By Allen Cone   |   Dec. 30, 2016 at 5:36 PM
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SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A soprano singer quit the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Friday rather than perform at the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.

Jan Chamberlin wrote a resignation letter to choir president Ron Jarrett — and her fellow singers, saying she "could never look myself in the mirror again with self-respect" if she sang in the Jan. 20 ceremony in Washington.

"I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony," Chamberlin wrote in a letter she also posted on Facebook. "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."

Chamberlin, who has sung with the choir for five years, said, "But it's no use. I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events."

Chamberlin likened Trump to Adolf Hitler and accused him of "stirring up people with a combination of fanaticism, false promises, and fear."

"I only know I could never 'throw roses to Hitler,' " she wrote. "And I certainly could never sing for him."

In a statement, the chief spokesman of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it is not mandatory singers perform at the inauguration.

"Participation in the choir, including the performance at the Inauguration, is voluntary," Eric Hawkins said. "Only a limited number of choir members are participating [the number is limited by the inaugural committee], and none are required to participate."

Not all 360 singers will make the trip, but church officials expect about 215 to participate.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir previously sang at the swearing-in ceremonies for Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush, and the inaugural parades for Ronald Reagan, and both Bushes.

Trump captured the six Electoral College votes in Utah. He had 45.54 percent of the vote compared with Hillary Clinton's 27.46 percent and unaffiliated Evan McMullin's percent 21.54 percent.

Randall Thacker, a lifetime Mormon and past president of Affirmation, a support organization for gay Latter-day Saints, launched a petition against the choir's participation. By Thursday, it had nearly 19,000 signatures worldwide.

Radio City Rockettes performer Phoebe Pearl has also refused to perform with her group.

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