Would you sing for Adolf Hitler? This is a decision that with which now-former Mormon Tabernacle Choir member Jan Chamberlin was confronted when they agreed to dress up, put on smiles, and gleefully sing for Donald Trump’s glory on January 20. The Tabernacle Choir is one of a very few groups and individuals who have agreed to perform at The Donald’s inauguration (with a 16-year-old reality show contestant being the “headliner” of sorts) because the entire free world rejects him.
Like the majority of the Radio City Rockettes, who recently revealed they had been threatened into performing with job loss or worse, Chamberlin refuses to sell out her values for 15 minutes of fame. Unlike the Rockettes, no one can bully her into showing up — or speaking her mind.
“It is with a sad and heavy heart that I submit my resignation to you and to Choir. I’m am praying that Jesus will help me get through this email before I totally break down.” She describes her time with the Choir as deeply meaningful, but says she has suffered ” several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony” while reflecting on “both sides of the issue.” Ultimately, her conclusion was that giving up something she loves and to which she was dedicated is worth it if it means not showing up to praise Trump. In fact, she says, no amount of good the Choir can possibly do can erase the big orange stain that now tarnishes it just as much as Mormon’s refusal to recognize that black people have souls (until 1978, when God decided that certain non-whites are worthwhile):
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 have highly valued the mission of the Choir to be good- will ambassadors for Christ, to share beautiful music and to give hope, inspiration, and comfort to others.
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. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect.
Chamberlin says that she feels “betrayed” by the decision to perform, and can no longer be a part of what she considers to be an overall good group of people because Trump ruins everything:
Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth. Now it will burst into our homes through storm.
I hope that we and many others will work together with greater dilligence and awareness to calmly and bravely work together to defend our freedoms and our rights for our families, our friends, and our fellow citizens. I hope we can throw off the labels and really listen to each other with respect, love, compassion, and a true desire to bring our energies and souls together in solving the difficult problems that lie in our wake.
In the show Wicked, the Wizard makes a really interesting statement. He says “ I create conflict to stay in power.” This scenario can keep us perpetually distracted and at odds with each other and keep us from working together to solve important issues. This also allows those in office to do whatever they want to unchecked. I believe this has been done to us, both cunningly and intentionally. I believe we have a lot more in common than we have in difference, and if we will listen to each other, we can learn a great deal from one another.
And we can learn to work together to defend our freedoms with sensibility and integrity.
The now-former member of the choir signs off with a very pointed message on this very “moral issue” — that she “could never ‘throw roses to Hitler’ and “certainly could never sing for him.”
“My heart is shattered and broken,” she concludes. “But my conscience is clear. And THAT, really is all that matters.”
It is clear that this is a very devout woman who views what the Choir is doing as an inherently evil action. What is truly curious is why she seems to be the only one who has drawn this conclusion, and why the Choir as a whole is willing to celebrate a man who, as Chamberlin points out, is exactly like Adolf Hitler. Why would they choose to lose a clearly good woman to celebrate a fascist?
The answer to that question likely lies in the same beliefs that produced the Church’s decision to cling to their racist ideals that black people are inferior until social pressure forced them to do otherwise — and as with that, there will likely never be an apology.
Read the full post below:
Dear Family and Friends,This is the message I have sent to Choir:Dear President Jarrett and Choir,Today is my…
Featured image via Getty Images (Scott Olson)