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Mormon Tabernacle Choir member resigns rather than sing for Trump
December 30, 2016 / 7:59 PM / 9 months ago

Mormon Tabernacle Choir member resigns rather than sing for Trump

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings at the first session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' 185th Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah April 4, 2015. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo

(Reuters) - A member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has resigned over its plan to sing at the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, and more than 22,000 people have signed a petition opposing the choir’s participation.

Jan Chamberlin resigned after five years with the choir, which originates from Utah, over the Jan. 20 ceremony, saying it “will appear that (the) Choir is endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man.”

With three weeks to go before Trump is sworn in, teen classical singer Jackie Evancho is the only celebrity to have unequivocally embraced her role in an inauguration ceremony marked by soul-searching by larger invited groups, and fan backlash.

The 1960s pop group, The Beach Boys, is considering an invitation to perform but has yet to make a final decision, a spokesman for the band said on Friday.

“I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the face again,” Chamberlin wrote in a resignation letter that she posted on Facebook on Thursday.

A separate petition on change.org started by Randall Thacker, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had gathered more than 22,000 signatures on Friday.

The petition says the participation of the Tabernacle Choir in Trump’s inauguration does not reflect the Church’s values and would harm its worldwide image.

The Church says taking part in the inauguration is voluntary, and notes that the Tabernacle Choir, which hails from Salt Lake City, Utah, has sung at such celebrations for five previous Republican presidents.

Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said on Friday public response to the inauguration plans “has been mixed, with people expressing both opposition and support. The Choir’s participation... is not an implied support of party affiliations or politics. It is a demonstration of our support for freedom, civility and the peaceful transition of power.”

Some dancers in the Radio City Rockettes were also unhappy at performing.

“We do a lot of events, but there have been no events that could cause trauma. And doing this would cause trauma for some people,” one Rockettes dancer said this week, speaking anonymously with Marie Claire magazine.

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli suffered a fan backlash on social media after reports that he was planning to sing for Trump. Bocelli and country singer Garth Brooks both backed out of performing at the inauguration.

Organizers have denied they are struggling to recruit big names for the ceremony.

“This is not Woodstock,” Trump aide Boris Epshteyn told CNN this week. “It’s not about celebrities. As Donald Trump tweeted himself, it’s about the people.”

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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