The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has become a house divided after being asked to perform at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. Jan Chamberlain, a member of the choir for four years, posted her resignation letter on Facebook in late December 2016. Despite the performance being voluntary, she said, “For me, this is a hugely moral issue.”
Chamberlain went on to explain why she left, writing, “Looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man.”
While receiving some backlash for her bold decision to leave the choir, she also gained wide support from both LDS and non-LDS members. An opinion piece was even written about the choir member’s decision and its representation of the religion by Mary Campbell, a contributor to news website “The Hill,” in her piece, “Why choir member quitting due to Trump is following Mormon tradition.”
Campbell continued to back Chamberlain by exploring the history of LDS women and theorized why Chamberlain stepped down from the choir. She explained that during the late 19th century, Brigham Young’s wives participated in the women’s rights movements along with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Campbell wrote, “As difficult as it is to reconcile this proto-feminist stance with the intensely patriarchal nature of LDS polygamy itself, Mormon women joined organizations like the National Woman’s Suffrage Association, participated in events like the seminal World’s Congress of Representative Women and published one of the country’s first female suffrage newspapers, the Women’s Exponent.”
Campbell also mentioned that in December 2016, Randall Thacker, a church member, decided to create a Change.org petition, encouraging the choir singers to withdraw from the inauguration.
Defending the moral basics of his religion, Thacker announced in a public statement, “The thought of this choir and Mormonism being forever associated with a man who disparages minorities, brags about his sexual control of women, encourages intolerance and traffics in hate speech and bullying was unacceptable.”