Who Is Jan Chamberlin? The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Member Put Her Morals Over Her Career
One of the interesting subplots of the run-up to the 2017 inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump has been how so many people from the entertainment and show business world want nothing to do with it. Whether you're talking about multiple reports of prominent performers rejecting invitations, or the Rockettes controversy, or Trump's own insistence that really, he doesn't even want any celebrities to attend, it's starting to look conspicuous. And now, one of the acts that will be there got a little bit smaller ― who is Jan Chamberlin, you ask?
Simply put, she's a woman who seems to be placing principle over career. Chamberlin is — or rather, was — a five-year member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the iconic vocal group slated to perform at the Jan. 20, 2017 inaugural. In a Facebook post, Chamberlin officially announced her resignation over the event, stating that she couldn't in good conscience continue, and had come to the decision after "several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony."
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 [sic] 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.
In short, Chamberlin determined that she could not in good conscience continue in the choir knowing that it would lend its voice to Trump's ascension to the presidency. In fact, she used some pretty condemning language to analogize the situation — she said that the choir was "endorsing tyranny and facism [sic] by singing for this man," and that she could never "throw roses at Hitler," comments sure to rankle and inflame Trump supporters, to say nothing of the man himself. She also specifically cited Trump's anti-refugee rhetoric as an example of historically dangerous scapegoating.
History is repeating itself; the same tactics are being used by Hitler (identify a problem, finding a scapegoat target to blame, and stirring up people with a combination of fanaticism, false promises, and fear, and gathering the funding). I plead with everyone to go back and read the books we all know on these topics and review the films produced to help us learn from these gargantuan crimes so that we will not allow them to be repeated. Evil people prosper when good people stand by and do nothing. We must continue our love and support for the refugees and the oppressed by fighting against these great evils.
Needless to say, the news has sparked a lot of reaction, both positive and supportive of Chamberlin's stand, and a a caustic surge of criticism against her on social media. It's worth noting that she didn't actually have to resign in order to avoid singing at the inauguration — according to The Salt Lake Tribune, it's a voluntary event, with only about 215 of the choir's 360 members expected to attend.
But it's clear from Chamberlin's words that her conscience wouldn't have been soothed simply by sitting it out, then returning later as though the whole thing hadn't happened. In fact, she specifically lamented that the choir's "wonderful image and networking will be severely damaged" by the performance, and that "many good people throughout this land and throughout the world already do and will continue to feel betrayed," including herself.
As if the decision weren't weighty enough, she also apparently submitted her resignation on her birthday. In short, the decision whether to attend and perform at the Trump inauguration is driving some people to major choices of conviction, and Chamberlin is the latest to join the ranks of those saying "Hell, no!"