Since the Mormon Tabernacle Choir agreed to sing at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, there has been a significant debate among the church’s members as to whether the choir should sing for the event.
There’s even a petition demanding that the choir change its decision that has received thousands of signatures.
Now, a member of the choir has chosen to resign rather than participate in Trump’s inauguration.
Jan Chamberlin outlined her reasons for leaving the choir in a resignation letter to the choir, writing:
“Since ‘the announcement,’ I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony. 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. I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be all right and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man.”
She added, “I could never look myself in the mirror again with self-respect.”
Chamberlin also thinks that the choir’s performance will hurt the choir’s image, writing that 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.”
However, Chamberlin’s issue with singing for Trump is moral, “I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him.”
She concluded the letter by saying that her heart is “shattered and broken” but that her “conscience is clear.”
According to church spokesperson Eric Hawkins, Chamberlin would not have been forced to perform at the inauguration because attendance is voluntary, which he reiterated in a statement on Thursday.
“Participation in the choir, including the performance at the Inauguration, is voluntary,” Hawkins said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “Only a limited number of choir members are participating (the number is limited by the inaugural committee), and none are required to participate.”
This isn’t the first time the choir has sung for an inauguration. They have performed at six inaugural events in the past 50 years.
The church’s spokesperson also pointed out that performing at the inauguration “is not an implied support of party affiliations or politics,” he said. “It is a demonstration of our support for freedom, civility and the peaceful transition of power.”