A member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir says she has resigned from the famed group over its decision to perform at next month’s inauguration of Donald Trump, a performance she said would be an endorsement of “tyranny and fascism”.
She added: “I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him.”
Organizers of the inauguration, in Washington DC on 20 January, have faced problems in attracting top-level talent.
The 1960s surf-pop group the Beach Boys are reportedly considering an offer. Last week it was reported that members of the New York dance troupe the Rockettes were unhappy after they were booked to perform. The group’s management subsequently said no individual Rockette would be forced to take part.
The member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Jan Chamberlin, posted her resignation letter to leaders of the 360-member choir on her Facebook page on Thursday.
“It is with a sad and heavy heart that I submit my resignation to you and to Choir,” she began. “I am praying that Jesus will help me get through this email before I totally break down.”
Writing that she had spent “several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony”, she added: “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.
“I also know, looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and facism by singing for this man.”
She continued: “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.”
The choir is part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Church spokesman Eric Hawkins told the Salt Lake Tribune that participation in the choir and the inaugural performance was voluntary.
Hawkins said last week the choir’s tradition of presidential performances was not akin to “implied support of party affiliations or politics”.
The choir previously sang at the inaugurations of Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, and the Republicans Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and George W Bush.
Trump was expected to struggle among Mormon voters in the presidential election, given his populist policies and a succession of allegations over his treatment of women.
In the final count, however, he saw off a challenge from an independent Mormon conservative, Evan McMullin, to win Utah on his way to the White House.
In her statement, Chamberlin offered a strongly worded critique of Trump’s tactics in the presidential campaign and as he prepares to assume power, drawing a parallel with the rise of Adolf Hitler.
“In the show Wicked,” she wrote, “the Wizard makes a really interesting statement. He says, ‘I create conflict to stay in power.’