The MoTab member who refused to sing at Trump’s inauguration is interviewed

Jan Chamberlin, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir member who refused to sing at Trump’s inauguration, is interviewed.

A few quick thoughts:

1)Sister Chamberlin seems like a nice enough person.  It is useful to put a face to a name and to see her express her views calmly.

2)I strongly disagree with her comparison of Trump to Hitler, and I think she will be embarrassed by this comparison over time.  Trump is certain to do bad things just like all presidents, but he will leave office in four or eight years, and all indications are Trump actually wants to avoid a world war, not start one.  If I were Jewish, I would be deeply offended by comparing Trump, who is notably pro-Israel, to Hitler and his concentration camps.

3)Not all MoTab members are singing at the inauguration.  Sister Chamberlin could have quietly told the leadership she didn’t want to go for this concert.  Instead, she deliberately took this issue public.  I suppose she would say her motives were in the best interests of the country, but I am skeptical.  I mostly see her actions as virtue signaling to her friends.

4)The choir is an important missionary tool and public symbol of the Church.  The MoTab also brings the Spirit of the Lord. Many people feel the Spirit in different ways and in different situations. You may not feel the Spirit every time the MoTab sings, but you may have felt it once or twice. I very often think of choirs of angels with I see the MoTab sing. I find myself thinking how extraordinary it is to see these people sing together in harmony and how great they sound. Everybody needs the Spirit of the Lord, even (and perhaps especially) President-elect Trump. If you are opposed to Trump’s politics, why wouldn’t you want him to be exposed to the Spirit of the Lord? What harm could it do?  Aren’t we supposed to spread the Gospel to everybody?

I am wondering if Sister Chamberlin is already regretting her decision to take this issue public. Or is she enjoying this 15 minutes of fame?  I honestly don’t know, but I think there will come a time when she regrets her comparisons of Trump to Hitler.  She has already taken down her Facebook post in which she makes that comparison.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

44 thoughts on “The MoTab member who refused to sing at Trump’s inauguration is interviewed

  1. I think that you got it correct at “virtue signaling” because she has indicated how many of her friends support and applaud her decision. If she didn’t go public with her choice, she would be seen as less “virtuous” so here we are. She is most likely a die-hard liberal and simply wants to curry favor with her like-minded sycophants. So be it.

    Personally, like you, I did not for Trump and find his character to be less than ideal. However, just as I have prayed for our country and its leaders in the past (including President Obama) I will pray that God will guide President Trump to those decisions that will be best for our country and the world.

  2. I think the perception that she seems a nice enough person and has a calm demeanor in front of media cameras is not relavent to the fact that she has publically taken actions contrary to the Church’s actions. Her Hitler comparison aside, she has sought to elevate herself to a fancied moral high ground and in doing so embarrasses the Church. I have little regard for her public stunt, and I think the choir is all the better for her walking out the door.

  3. The irony is that her description and definition of “fascism” could describe Obama’s two terms with stunning ease.

  4. Trump is bad, but he’s not Hitler. We need to stop making that comparison.

    My only concern about this whole situation is that she brought controversy to the Choir and the Church, and has caused contention. We shouldn’t be causing contention as members is all. As you said, she could have just quietly resigned or not gone.

  5. I personally know 2 current members in the MoTab and both were excited to have the chance for the choir to sing at Trumps inauguration. What was interesting was reading the Facebook comments on their posts about the invitation from other, current choir members who were less than thrilled at the chance. I don’t think they make up lots of people in the choir but many expressed similar feelings to Sister Chamberlain. She’s not alone in what she thinks but she’s certainly the most vocal of the group.

    What I also learned from my two MoTab friends is that the church wasn’t going to send the whole choir anyway. Only 2/3 of the singers were going to be allowed to go and those who wanted to go had to submit their names and they would be randomly selected to go. (Both of my friends submitted names and only one of them made it.) In short, Sister Chamberlain knew this and could have resigned or opted not to go to DC in a more quiet way. The fact that she knew of these options and choose not to do it shows to me that she was looking for her 15 minutes of self-righteous fame.

    The sad thing about this, per Joyce’s point, is that it’s caused needless contention. Sad to see choir members sniping at each other on social media. Sad to see the contention that it’s causing in wards and other places the saints gather. Sad overall.

  6. I’ve been thinking of comparing this sister to football players who kneel during the national anthem.I have the same thing to say to her – Do your job, Sister. Being in a missionary position in the church, it’s alarming to see her judging Trump and comparing him to Hitler, which is ludicrous.

    What a tremendous opportunity to show Christ-like love for our new president and show him we stand in solidarity for our country. I don’t care if she doesn’t approve of the president elect, personally, she’s not standing for the church either. Definitely not a missionary. I also hope she realises that her decision is not the right one.

  7. One paragraph in her FB statement is indicative of where she stands with the Church: “[The] Choir’s wonderful image and networking will be severely damaged and that many good people throughout this land and throughout the world already do and will continue to feel betrayed. I believe hereafter our message will not be believed by many that have loved us and adored what we have stood for.” First, she speaks for others and makes herself out to be a prophetess with a blanket statement that “many good people throughout…the world…will…feel betrayed.” Second, she says the Choir’s participation will tarnish the Gospel message and “will not be believed.” The Choir, it’s beautiful music, and performances are NOT the Gospel nor the only way to share the Gospel. Does she not believe in our modern apostles and prophets and missionary force to carry His truth, and that God is capable of bringing the message to others in any way He wills, despite the repugnant moral state of the world? Clearly she does not. No doubt she has sung millions of times: “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform…” Oh well, the caravan moves on!

  8. So it’s confirmed that the Motab member and many grumpy progressive Mormons are more judgmental and partisan than Hillary Clinton. I wonder if Hillary would have spoken at the event if Trump asked her to…would that be seen as an endorsement?

    I can’t help but feel this whole motab controversy is really just sour grapes masquerading as principle.

  9. I hope that it’s just an over-zealous left-leaning ideology coupled with a severe lack of prudence that’s underneath her decision to go public. As such, I can’t fault her for being a flawed human being. I hope that’s all it is…

  10. In the SL Tribune story, she mentions that the impetus for the prayer that led her to this decision was a “nasty email from a fellow choir member” stating those who did not want to go were unpatriotic. It seems the choir was already somewhat divided in opinion. I would rather see her resign, than either 1) not go & harp about it to fellow choir members or 2) go & harp about going.

    She made a decision & took a stand. I see that as a good thing, whether I agree with her position or not. I was also pleased to see that she did not name the “fellow choir member” who sent the email. It might have been better had she not posted it on facebook, but it was a way to let the other choir members know where she stood.

  11. When disagreeing with church leaders, it’s good to keep in mind this counsel from George Q Cannon:

    Here’s the gist:
    “We replied that we have not stated that an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the authorities constituted apostasy; for we could conceive of a man honestly differing in opinion from the authorities of the Church and yet not be an apostate; but we could not conceive of a man publishing those differences of opinion, and seeking by arguments, sophistry and special pleading to enforce them upon the people to produce division and strife, and to place the acts and counsels of the authorities of the Church, if possible, in a wrong light, and not be an apostate, for such conduct was apostasy as we understood the term. ”

    Especially if the decision to perform was made by the First Presidency.

  12. Anon, great post, great quote! Thanks so much. It makes me wince to see a rebel without a cause try to spray her vinegar on a faithful, venerable institution like the Choir — and the judgement of the First Presidency.

  13. I don’t think of her as a rebel without a cause spraying vinegar. If she really & truly feels that Trump is a parallel to Hitler, then she should not sing for his inauguration, even if other choir members do not feel the same way. I see her resignation from the choir as the honorable route to not participating.

    I am not a fan of posting on Facebook, which is one reason why I do not use Facebook, but as a convert, I have been taught over & over to “stand for the right, EVEN if you have to stand alone.” Isn’t that what she has done? I don’t remember the lesson ever being tempered with, “unless you are not in the majority.”

    The quote from anonforthisone could just as easily apply to the unnamed choir member who sent the nasty email that precipitated the whole thing. Do we no longer care about civility towards each other? We are studying Gordon B Hinckley this year – kinder, gentler, more peaceable, anyone?

    The bottom line is that each of us was given our agency, purchased at great cost by our Savior, & Each. One. Of. Us. will give an individual accounting of what we did with that agency when this life is over. Each of us will have the chance to explain our actions, to He who knows our hearts. We all make mistakes. Isn’t that the point of a probationary state?

  14. “The quote from anonforthisone could just as easily apply to the unnamed choir member who sent the nasty email that precipitated the whole thing.”

    Nope. President Cannon talked about taking disagreement public. She’s the one who did that.

    Also, it’s the height of cowardice to now shift the blame for her choice to smear the church and the choir onto someone allegedly sending and email that precipitated anything.

    If the church members who were oh so principled, yet have one foot in the apostate camp, never raised the issue, would any press be given to this? Maybe some rabble-rousers would try to smear anyone at the inauguration… But if the members and choir said, “Though we some of us may disagree on Trump’s history, candidacy, and policy we do want to take the opportunity be united and share our love of the gospel and our nation through music at the inauguration.”

    But oh no. The more principled types know better. When you find yourself on one side of a decision and the leaders on another side; if you’re unwilling or unable to change your views based on principle or conviction then don’t advocate against it — especially if your aggitating isn’t solicited and can’t change the outcome anyway.

  15. There are a lot of people out there in social media calling Sis Chamberlin an apostate — and worse — and I am not going to go there. She says she loves her Church. That is good, and I will praise her for saying it.

    However, I would say that it is a dangerous road for anybody to go down to criticize actions of the Church and Church institutions in a public way. If she felt strongly about this situation, she should have kept her feelings private and avoided the publicity that now surrounds her. To answer Marivene, “standing for the right” when your position puts you at odds with the Church is not standing for the right. This is why the George Q. Cannon quotation above is so important. Sister Chamberlin was within her rights to disagree quietly and privately with the MoTab playing at the inauguration. She went too far by causing so much contention and strife by taking her decision public in an attempt to persuade others.

  16. I think you’re living up to your name (handle), professor. Really incisive post. Thanks again. Clear thinking in print is always a fresh breath of exygenated air.
    God bless,

  17. Geoff, I think though it’s true we needn’t place a set of horns on her head yet, the professor is accurate in describing her ACTIONS as having a foot in the apostate camp. We’re talking about Actions here. I think she has clearly placed herself in opposition to the highest Church councils with her going over the mass media. Yes, we should stay clothed in the bonds of charity and refrain from condemning others, but discipleship also requires us to take stands on principle. Not to do so merely turns us into a codependent church.

  18. I think James Stone’s comment is the most telling…

    “Only 2/3 of the singers were going to be allowed to go and those who wanted to go had to submit their names and they would be randomly selected to go. ( … ) In short, Sister Chamberlain knew this and could have resigned or opted not to go to DC in a more quiet way. The fact that she knew of these options and choose not to do it shows to me that she was looking for her 15 minutes of self-righteous fame.”

  19. professor Lockhart & Geoff B, the email she received went to ALL the choir members. That is not “private”, & was also sent to “persuade others” – several hundred of them in the choir. I think that counts as “public.”

    As I said, I do not agree with her posting it on Facebook, but she, by her own admission, did not expect it to go viral. She was pushing back against another choir member calling her, & any others who preferred not to sing, “unpatriotic” & “faithless in her faith”. She did post on Facebook, which was obviously a mistake, but from my point of view, she is not the only one causing contention & strife.

  20. “She says she loves her Church. That is good, and I will praise her for saying it.”

    That brings to mind the memory of Sonia Johnson looking earnestly into the media cameras and saying how she ‘loved’ her church. . . while she was vigorously edeavoring to fight it and embarrass it.

  21. Correction: I just re-read the Salt Lake Trib story by Peggy Stack. I made an error. It was a nasty Facebook post, not a nasty email, that was sent to the choir members, calling those who did not wish to perform “unpatriotic” and “faithless in their faith”. Perhaps that is why she posted to Facebook? The story is still on the front page, so to speak, at the Trib.

  22. Maybe that “nasty” Facebook post was only telling the truth. Shouldn’t disloyalty be called disloyalty? Also, I do not trust the Salt Lake Tribune. And after reading Peggy (Fletcher) Stack’s Mormon Liberal propaganda from earliest Sunstone days till now, I more especially don’t trust her word spins.

  23. #15″If she really & truly feels that Trump is a parallel to Hitler. . .”

    I once met a woman who almost died of starvation because of Hitler’s Siege of Leningrad. I have also personally been to a mass grave of almost 500,000 people who died in Hitler’s siege and the surrounding fighting. Even that does not even begin to enumerate the death and misery that Hitler met out on his enemies. Trump may not be your guy, but comparing him to Hitler is not courageous–it is slander. Slandering someone’s name is very unbecoming particularly for a Latter-day Saint. Comparing every politician you don’t like to Hitler only cheapens the memory of his victims. This woman has no historical perspective.

    If Trump or any other politician were really a bloodthirsty dictator/tyrant Sister Chamberlin would not be publicly denouncing him. I guarantee you she is not worried about getting a knock at the door in the middle of the night and then never being seen again.

    These days it is wise to be very circumspect about spouting out your mouth in public. The Internet never forgets. Unless she does something to overcome this mistake, she will primarily be remembered for this episode. This could be embarrassing to her posterity particularly if Trump ends up being an effective president.

  24. Glen, as I understand it, the church does not take political positions. I have already said I don’t think she should have posted on Facebook, but “truth” on Facebook is a slippery commodity. Apparently the choir has its own Facebook page. I wonder if that is where both these individuals posted. If so, it puts a different spin on “private/public”. The post with her letter of resignation “is no longer available” thru the links in the SL Trib story, which would be consistent with her no longer being able post as a member of the group, since she resigned.

    The choir singing for the inauguration is not an endorsement of Trump, so the unnamed choir member calling those who did not wish to perform “faithless in their faith” was over the top. “Unpatriotic” is a point of view; “faithless” is a judgement, at least to me.

    I would not want to sing for Trump either. I would have passed on Obama as well, but would have loved to sing for Reagan. Good thing I am not a member of the choir – although if I were, I would already have been “retired” due to my age.

  25. I have to say I simply don’t understand the attitude that says you should only sing in front of people you agree with politically. The choir is about spreading good will and the Gospel. Wouldn’t you want to bring that especially to the people you don’t agree with? Aren’t we supposed to love our enemies?

  26. The comments saying she shouldn’t be judged aren’t really appropriate. If she withdrew from the choir and said nothing because she didn’t have the best of feelings for the concert, that’s true we should respectfully refrain from judging personally because we wouldn’t even know her name let alone her actions.

    But she invited judgment of her actions the moment she turned to public advocacy. You can’t have it both ways.

    You can’t blame an email or Facebook post for why she went on CNN and wrote the Tribune. She advocated a stand against the arm of the church. She didn’t need to respond this way.

    It would seem she forgot what group she belonged to. The choir isn’t a club for members of the church who like to sing. Outsiders might see it that way. But she knows better.

    Saying she can’t perform for Hitler while internally criticizing the decision to send the choir, pretty clearly says my will not thine be done, but at least it would be private. Publicly saying such is not only futile in practicality from a faithful perspective, but it raises the issue of loyalty as well.

    We don’t approach our membership in the church with loyal opposition that has everyone taking a principled stand against the decisions in the church (be it from the first Presidency, choir, stake or ward). I’m not saying we must obey unrighteous decisions, but the choir singing for Trump isn’t performing for Hitler. It’s doubtful he’ll even approach FDR levels of minority oppression.

    Now, I’m not happy with the US government. I think we’ve lost our way. I’d love to take a principled stand and do acts of civil disobedience when it comes to taxation or who knows what. But the church encourages us to support our government and not undermine it, so I don’t because I trust in the Lord.

    I truly hope she feels deep regret after CNN, etc and can turn that remorse into resolve to make better decisions. It would be best if we could just let her make her mistakes in private and move on. But when others among us are equally confused as she and agitate similarly, the true loyal opposition (to agitators) should speak up.

  27. rk, looking at her picture, she looks close to my age, in her 60s. In my World History class, my junior year of high school, one of the questions on the final was “List & explain the various factors leading to the rise of Hitler.” There were 6 or 7 questions, all essay, all beginning with “List & explain..”as it was the teacher’s favorite format for questions. This was in 1970, in Ohio.

    I have 4 children, ranging in age from 30 -40. NONE of them were ever tested on the factors that led to the rise of Hitler, or Stalin, or Mussolini. The education of my children in high school spanned 2 different high schools, 2 AP classes, 2 “regular classes” & 4 different teachers, all in Idaho & Utah.

    You don’t know if she “has no historical perspective, or not”. It appears to me that the factors that led to the rise of the leaders of the axis powers in WWII is no longer taught as part of the curriculum. Hitler was a charismatic leader, until he wasn’t. There ARE some parallels between the way Trump & Hitler campaigned. That is not slander, that is history, but Trump is not a tyrant, & it is unlikely that our system of government would allow further parallels.

    I have also experienced the “he’s the president-elect, so get in line” mentality, even at church, where support for Trump is sometimes mingled with being “faithful”. I reject that stance. As the president-elect, he is entitled to my prayers in his behalf, but he has to earn my support. One of the more endearing moments in presidential history, for me, was when Ford became president after Nixon resigned, & in his speech, acknowledged that he had not been chosen by our votes, but asked that the people “ratify him with your prayers”. That type of humility is not likely to be part of a Trump presidency.

  28. Marivene, count me as one who definitely does not fall in line to support whatever person happens to be president. If you study US history, it is clear that presidents were intended to have very limited powers. George Washington saw it mostly as a ceremonial post. Congress had most of the power, and the Founders liked it that way. The office of U.S. president should have much less prestige and importance than it has today. But this is not really relevant to the issue of, “is it right or not for the MoTab to sing at an inauguration?” Especially given that the MoTab has sung at many other inaugurations without controversy.

    As for the Trump is Hitler analogy, we need to be very, very clear on this. It is simply not acceptable to keep on calling U.S. candidates that you disagree with “Hitler.” The German dictator was uniquely evil. It lessens how evil he was to call a U.S. president who has made bigoted remarks and who appears to like Putin the same thing as Hitler. It is not only ignorant — it is dangerous because some day we may actually get a Hitler type of leader in the U.S. and we will be LESS prepared to deal with it if certain sectors of society keep on calling everybody they disagree with “Hitler.” If everybody is Hitler, then nobody is, and we do need to be concerned about potential tyrants.

  29. I am extremely uncomfortable watching members accuse a member who publicly disagreed with the decision by the Tab Choir to participate in Trump’s inauguration of apostasy. A few, including some posters here, cite George Q. Cannon, a 19th century church leader, to bolster their claim. I see several problems with this:

    First, Cannon’s comment is completely out of context for our day. Cannon’s statement is not current church doctrine or policy. It is reflective of his (19th century) views of what constituted apostasy. He likely never imagined an age in which the line was so blurred between private and public conversation. As an inhabitant of the 19th century, he likely would be puzzled by today’s views on free speech, artistic expression, political speech, the institutional role of the church, religious liberty, etc.

    Second, the Tab Choir is not “the Church.” Even if one completely embraced Cannon’s definition, conflating the choir (or BYU, church businesses, etc.) with the Church proper is an ontological fallacy. In my experience, Cannon’s quote is used to justify ad hominem attacks on anyone having issues with church institutions or businesses.

    I know two members in good standing whose work as attorneys places them in direct opposition (in court) with the Corporation of the First Presidency or the Corporation of the Presiding Bishopric. Not only do they publicly and professionally advocate for those who are suing the Church, they make livings off of their efforts, especially when they win! Are these men apostates?

    I asked one of these men how he justified his professional actions. His answer was clear: “The Church is a bureaucracy and sometimes the Church institutions make incorrect, harmful or illegal decisions, and we can even prove it in court. My client is legally entitled to damages. What kind of Latter-day Saint would I be if I let unjust actions persevere?”

    I doubt that any church leader is going to step forward and claim that the decision to sing at Trump’s inauguration was a revelation. I could readily sustain any person to any church calling who is opposed to the Tab Choir’s recent decision. I would also readily sustain anyone who supported Trump. The boundaries we have between public and private… between moral, religious and political are too blurry for me to fully discern. And I believe that my discipleship does not entitle me to bludgeon someone with an accusation of apostasy who simply disagrees with the church or raises a complex issue in public.

    I think we could simply pat this good sister on the back, tell her to be careful in this crazy world, and civilly and courteously point out the strengths and discrepancies in her arguments. But there is no justification to question her standing before God.

  30. Old Man, good comment and a good corrective. I mostly agree with you. Note that I never called her an apostate in the OP and I commented above that I would not go there.

    I would just like add another perspective to this: I have watched literally hundreds of people I know in real life and through the internet go from “I am just questioning the Church/leadership/the prophets on this one issue” to “the Church is wrong on this one issue” to “you know what, the Church is wrong about a LOT of things” to “it is my duty to publicly point out that the Church is wrong about a LOT of things” to “it is morally wrong for the Church to take this stance and I must tell the public about it” to “My morality is right, and the prophets are wrong” to “The Church is wrong about just about everything important, and the world must know.” I am not exaggerating — I have seen this happen over and over and over again. The key moment in my opinion is when you take private doubts and go public with them. Now, you are correct to point out that the MoTab choir is not “the Church.” And I think that is a good reminder. But my counter-reminder would be: don’t take your doubts public. Don’t publicize them on social media and imply you are right and Church leaders are wrong. That is a key step toward eventual apostasy, and I feel a need to remind people of that.

  31. Marivene,

    Thanks for your comments. I must politely state that being charismatic does not make someone the next Hitler. Lots of politicians are. Having seeming similarities in campaigning does not make someone into Hitler. But hey, you show me Trump’s version of Mein Kampf and then we will talk.

  32. Marivene,

    One more thing, you probably wouldn’t appreciate people analyzing you and then making comparisons of you to Ilsa Koch or Myra Hindley. Any comparison would be ridiculous and unfair, unless you had done something comparable and concrete to deserve it.

  33. ” It is not only ignorant — it is dangerous because some day we may actually get a Hitler type of leader in the U.S. and we will be LESS prepared to deal with it if certain sectors of society keep on calling everybody they disagree with “Hitler.””

    This is pretty much the history of Romney and Trump. Romney was vilified by the opponents of his campaign, and I think “Hitler” may have come up.

    When we got a candidate who was measurably closer to Hitler*, the response in some circles was “Oh, they say that about *every* Republican candidate.” And it was true.

    *And by “measurably closer” I mean “measurably closer.” I do not mean “close”, agreeing with Geoff B. that the gap is still so wide that it cheapens both the evil of Hitler and our political debates to say otherwise.

  34. President Monson said, “When I was appointed President of the Church, I said, “I’ll take one assignment for myself. I’ll be the adviser for the Tabernacle Choir.” I’m very proud of my choir!”

    The members that feel they know better and wish to speak out against the choir’s actions are not making wise choices. Do the people who oppose the choir’s performance really think the Lord is opposed the choir’s presence at the event? So President Monson or the First Presidency just dropped the ball and were completely out of tune with the spirit of the Lord on this one? And you are?

    There’s the kicker — in publicly coming out on the issue, one has to say, “I’m right on this issue, and whoever in authority made this decision is wrong.” Even if you’re right that the person making the decision should have acted more prudently, you’re simply wrong for saying it!

    Here’s the real issue that’s tragic for our country. Trump was already a polarizing character, it is true, but the political operatives now recognize that they can’t let him become popular and acceptable. Working with and support for Trump has to become Out of Bounds™. Trump must be branded as Hitler by these people and all good people encouraged stay away from him. This has always been the strategy with the politics of personal destruction, but now that you have a polarizing character like Trump, the political operatives can pretend to do so on “principle”.

    We should not reinforce this attitude of turning the President (or anyone that associates or even praises him) into a pariah. It’s further entrenching a terrible precedent. The Republic is stronger than a Trump or Obama Presidency, but it’s not strong enough to endure us tearing ourselves apart in reaction to a Trump or Obama Presidency. The rifts we’re creating can’t heal easily, because we are perpetuating a self-interested group who profits politically by feeding these rifts.

  35. I’ve mentioned before that I am close to a member of the choir, from conversations with her I echo what somebody else mentioned about the format and participation. A certain number of members were to go. It will be a lean trip– no spouses or kids allowed to accompany– and there was stiff competition to participate at this event.

    These facts put Chamberlin’s (I’m dropping the bro/sis online because frankly I don’t even like it at church) decision to go public in perspective. It was completely unnecessary and has only bred contention.

    She “loves” her church now, but I’m fascinated to see how her newfound fame amongst the Utah counter culture affects her. Will she quietly retreat or take her place among her principled peers, embrace her outside-insider status and feed on the publicity? Time will tell. Methinks she was pretty proud of her “won’t sing for Hitler” line.

    Now excuse me while I post on Facebook that I disagree with the whole Brother/Sister tradition. Where’s my Trib interview, Peg?

  36. Old Man,

    I think you made a few errors there.

    — The choir is not another institution like BYU or a church-owned business. It’s more like the PR department/newsroom or the Missionary Dept., directly representing the church. Dan Peterson recently wrote that he thought the choir members are formally set-apart missionaries. So the choir is much higher profile and symbolic/representative in the public eye.

    Therefore, like the PR and Missionary depts, it’s closely supervised by GA’s and the Brethren. If Lockhart is correct, the oversight is in the prophet himself.

    — GA’s do receive personal revelation in their formal duties and decisions for the church. If Pres Monson or some other GA overseeing the choir said it was okay for the Motab to perform at the inauguration, I am confident it is the will of the Lord. It is more likely than not that whoever had the final decison to perform at the inaug received, at the least, a “confirmation”.

    And of course the GA’s don’t publicly “claim” revelations, that’s not the modern prophetic style; but in essence, that is what answers to prayer and confirmations are… revelation.

    I’m even more confident that the final decision was not made by the choir director or other full-time temporal employee of the church.

    — Cannon’s quote is relevant to current policy, because at least one apostle (i think it was either elder Holland or elder Oaks), and maybe one 70, mentioned “public advocacy” or similar words in recent general conference talks discussing disagreement with the church. Those talks were shortly after the recent high profile excommunications. If not quoted directly, those speakers used very similar language.

    — Regardless of the degree or location of the blur between private and public communication, GOING ON CNN and LETTERS TO THE NEWSPAPER are way past that blur and are firmly in public territory. We learn from a commenter here, and from Dan Peterson, that going to the inaug performance was an opt-in deal to begin with. Resignation was not necessary in order to avoid the performance.

    And as one permablogger here has so eloquently pointed out in the past: ALL PUBLIC COMMENTS/OPINIONS ARE LEGITIMATE SUBJECTS FOR FURTHER PUBLIC COMMENTS AND OPINIONS.

    — I also take exception to your characterization of the OP and/or comments constituting accusations of apostasy. Discussing it in light of the subject of the OP is not an accusation. The commenter who wrote “one foot in the camp” may have been undiplomatic, but that wasn’t an accusation either.

    In light of those recently discussed excommunications, the comparison can’t be avoided, even if left unsaid; it immediately comes to mind. “Wait a sec… We’ve been here before… ”

    Maybe we have to do like Geoff does, and belabor our comments with extra lawyer-like verbiage to try to head off the straw-man tactics and mischaracterizations.

    (And, thank you, Geoff, for explicating the gradual sequence of how public criticsm of church leaders leads to eventually opposing the church, if the person doesn’t change direction.)

  37. “Maybe we have to do like Geoff does, and belabor our comments with extra lawyer-like verbiage to try to head off the straw-man tactics and mischaracterizations.”

    LOL. I am mostly accused of being too blunt, so this is funny. But I know exactly what you mean. One thing you learn in more than a decade of Mormon blogging is that some commenters will do everything possible to misconstrue things you write in the most uncharitable light possible. I used to spend hours and hours explaining and re-explaining myself to these people, but they were concern trolls, not sincere commenters. Most of the trolls have been frightened off by our moderation policy, so that is one good thing.

    Anyway, I think if our commenters here got together in a group and discussed this situation, they would end up agreeing on about 99 percent of the issues. I see a lot more agreement than disagreement in this thread.

  38. I find it interesting that only one of more than 350 members of the choir decided to go public with resignation/opposition. Notice that her resignation was voluntary and has apparently not brought about any action on her church membership. In my opinion this makes the high visibility of the situation favorable. She gets her moment of fame and progressive virtue and the Choir in general appears in a good light compared to many frantic protesters. Many years ago a member of the general missionary committee said that every time the churche is in the news there is an increase in inquiries by prospective converts. I have read several stories of conversions resulting from a certain musical. It is possible that Sister Chamberlin’s brief fame will have a similar effect.

  39. Anonforthisone,
    * This is a huge church, and given the current state of President Monson’s health, I highly doubt he was involved in the decision. (This saddens me, I have known him since I was six years old. He was friend and associate of my grandfather’s.) And consulting the First Presidency at every bump in the road is not how church bureaucracy works.
    * If one current general authority gave us a quote concerning “public advocacy,” we should use the most current quote, or at least one that is younger than 150 years old. My guess is that the current quote does not have enough “bite” to please the overzealous critics out there.
    * Note: I did not criticize the op and comments here at M*. I am deeply concerned about the effect of the discussion on members on either end of the argument if we do not communicate civilly. And Geoff did a follow up in which he reinforced that judgemental name-calling of a fellow Latter-day Saint’s standing was out-of-bounds, which I appreciated.
    * I hope I am not one of the “concern trolls” that you and Geoff just discussed. I have done my best!

  40. I wish we wouldn’t give her any more attention. It seems that it is fact that the MoTab has performed for many Presidents and I would imagine that not every member of the choir at those times always liked or agreed with that President.
    I have been disappointed at the increasingly divisive political realm in which we find ourselves these days. I think this is another symptom.
    I think we can and should protest the actions of politicians we do not agree with. I imagine that Sis. Chamberlain thinks she is doing this. I would disagree. The biggest thing anyone is hearing from her is her comparison of Trump to Hitler. I don’t think that is a real issue. So, what is she really accomplishing besides contention?

  41. Perhaps this is too cynical, but: How close was Sister Chamberlin to having to retire anyway? My understanding is that an appointment to the choir is for a fairly limited term, not more than five years.

    Parting shot?

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