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"Why some people leave the Church"

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Tacenda, I have not been in your shoes, but they must be painfully tight at times. 

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58 minutes ago, MustardSeed said:

I admit I am new here, and don’t know jack about anyone’s history here.  Maybe that has its benefits.... 

But I read in his (can’t even recall the name anymore , it’s so buried under such a thick layer of discussion about him) post a vulnerability and an openness.  He came and shared his story.  Everyone has a story.  I feel sad for him.... he has in a way LOST his religion.  That is painful painful stuff.  He still LOVES his religion. What an excruciating place to be. 

As a community of Christ’s people, this is an opportunity to express our sadness for his experience and to encourage him, saving the “expell the beast” conversation for another time when it’s not pointed at a man in the center of the room. 

This site is designed for conflict.  I say we not abandon all compassion. 

I think the “expel the beast” bit here is overwrought hyperbole. I haven’t seen anyone here say or imply that. 

I, for one, have acknowledged the need for patience and pastoral guidance for those who struggle. That does not mean placing or retaining them in positions where, in the meantime, they ought not be serving under the circumstances. 

People are released from positions in the Church as frequently as they are called to them. There is no inherent shame in that. Most of the time, there is not a reason given, just an expression of gratitude for service rendered. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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1 minute ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I think the “expell the beast” bit here is overwrought hyperbole. I haven’t seen anyone here say or imply that. 

I, for one, have acknowledged the need for patience and pastoral guidance for those who struggle. That does not mean placing or retaining them in positioned where, in the meantime, they ought not be serving under the circumstances. 

At the very least, I misspelled that and should be cross examined for both hyperbole and sloppiness. 

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Just now, MustardSeed said:

At the very least, I misspelled that and should be cross examined for both hyperbole and sloppiness. 

Scott is a retired writer for Deseret News, so he can be a little picky, haha. I hope you stick around MustardSeed, you have a gift for the written word and I wish you were in my ward, haha! ;)

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3 hours ago, MustardSeed said:

At the very least, I misspelled that and should be cross examined for both hyperbole and sloppiness. 

 

3 hours ago, Tacenda said:

Scott is a retired writer for Deseret News, so he can be a little picky, haha. I hope you stick around MustardSeed, you have a gift for the written word and I wish you were in my ward, haha! ;)

I wasn’t sure of the spelling myself and came back later and corrected it in my own post. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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I’m a retired writer for the local paper myself so I challenge Scott to a write off. 

Edit- not retired. Ex editorial guest writer for a limited time. 

Edited by MustardSeed

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I’m sorry - I have gone off the rails.

so why DO people leave the church? 

I believe it’s either over facts or feelings.  

And for the record Scott, I think delivery is everything. 

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16 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

And it's not his place to judge Joseph Smith. Whether or not Joseph made it all up is between him and God, and critics should all just stop criticising. :rolleyes:

I currently serve in a stake presidency. When I was called to this position, I was asked questions directly relating to my personal testimony of the truth claims of the Church. I answered honestly. If for any reason my answers to those questions reversed, I'd be letting the stake president know.

Fortunately, given the choice between concluding that we're dealing with someone serving fraudulently in a 'prominent stake calling' or concluding that we're dealing with a troll/sock puppet, I'm leaning towards the latter.

I've never heard the term sock puppet, but I can tell you I'm not a troll. 

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3 minutes ago, Joe said:

Okay, I'm finally caught up on reading responses to my post. 

When I say, prominent, you guys probably assume stake presidency or high council. I am currently not serving in any of those, but my calling is fairly visible, as I speak in other wards and regularly work directly with the bishops. I spoke in stake conference last year. 

My faith transition began 6 years ago as I dove into church history to prove my brother-in-law wrong that Joseph Smith didn't practice polygamy. I was shocked at what I found. For about 5 years I held onto my beliefs, doubled down, and became the best latter-day saint that I knew how to be. I went to the temple weekly. I showed up for every move and service project. It was a very difficult, yet magical period in my life as I really strove to draw near to God like I never had before. 

It wasn't until about six months ago that I finally admitted to myself that the church isn't what it claims to be. I had made excuses for Joseph Smith for many years and I reached a point that I couldn't do it anymore. I finally said, "The church isn't true" in a prayer and instantly felt peace wash over me as I finally let go and stopped the mental gymnastics that believing in Joseph's claims required.

That was six months ago. A month after my temple recommend interview. Years after I had accepted my current calling.  I didn't lie once, but a lot of you have called me a fraud, which reinforces how I have felt lately. I feel like a fraud. I am living a double life because I keep quiet and let people assume I believe like them.

I have thought about talking to my stake president, but I'm afraid of the consequences. I'm afraid because I've seen how people are treated when they admit that they don't believe anymore. My sister's husband stopped believing talked to his bishop about it. That bishop told him not to talk to anyone in the ward and then put the word out to all his ward to not talk to him, or my sister (who was still a believer), or her kids. 

My wife and kids are still believers and I'm afraid that something similar will happen to them. Also, I like being a member of the church. It's all I've ever known. Even though it's hard to hear people bear testimony of Joseph Smith each Sunday, I still feel like this is my tribe.

Anyway, feel free to ask me anything. 

P.S. I looked up what a sock puppet is, and I assure you that I am not one. 

 

You’ll have to deal with your thoughts and feelings in a way that will no doubt be frightening for you.  You are looking into the unknown for you. 

We know what you don’t believe now. What are the things about the church and gospel that you DO  believe? 

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19 minutes ago, Joe said:

Okay, I'm finally caught up on reading responses to my post. 

When I say, prominent, you guys probably assume stake presidency or high council. I am currently not serving in any of those, but my calling is fairly visible, as I speak in other wards and regularly work directly with the bishops. I spoke in stake conference last year. 

My faith transition began 6 years ago as I dove into church history to prove my brother-in-law wrong that Joseph Smith didn't practice polygamy. I was shocked at what I found. For about 5 years I held onto my beliefs, doubled down, and became the best latter-day saint that I knew how to be. I went to the temple weekly. I showed up for every move and service project. It was a very difficult, yet magical period in my life as I really strove to draw near to God like I never had before. 

It wasn't until about six months ago that I finally admitted to myself that the church isn't what it claims to be. I had made excuses for Joseph Smith for many years and I reached a point that I couldn't do it anymore. I finally said, "The church isn't true" in a prayer and instantly felt peace wash over me as I finally let go and stopped the mental gymnastics that believing in Joseph's claims required.

That was six months ago. A month after my temple recommend interview. Years after I had accepted my current calling.  I didn't lie once, but a lot of you have called me a fraud, which reinforces how I have felt lately. I feel like a fraud. I am living a double life because I keep quiet and let people assume I believe like them.

I have thought about talking to my stake president, but I'm afraid of the consequences. I'm afraid because I've seen how people are treated when they admit that they don't believe anymore. My sister's husband stopped believing talked to his bishop about it. That bishop told him not to talk to anyone in the ward and then put the word out to all his ward to not talk to him, or my sister (who was still a believer), or her kids. 

My wife and kids are still believers and I'm afraid that something similar will happen to them. Also, I like being a member of the church. It's all I've ever known. Even though it's hard to hear people bear testimony of Joseph Smith each Sunday, I still feel like this is my tribe.

Anyway, feel free to ask me anything. 

P.S. I looked up what a sock puppet is, and I assure you that I am not one. 

 

Thanks for posting more of your story, Joe.  I'm sorry there are those here who judged you so harshly and even resorted to name calling before they had more facts.

Your story is one that is familiar and it's happening more and more to good, strong members of the church.  I've seen it in my own ward and I know it's a concern of my Bishop (who is working closely with many of the struggling members).  I hope you can find some peace and work through this.  I have my own struggles, so I understand.  It's painful and confusing.....that comes through loud and clear with what you've shared above.

I am impressed with your candor and honesty....I'd serve by your side.

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Thanks joe.  Perhaps you’ll be able to hold on to the things you know and love and believe, so that your life and your families life can be disrupted as minimally as possible, and to hold out for deeper understandings as they come.    

I believe nobody’s story is over til it’s over.  Sometimes life turns everything upside down, both ways.  

Peace. 

Edited by MustardSeed
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7 hours ago, Calm said:

Is she open about her disbelief as well as her commitment to the job?  Does she promote the immunization as a good thing, essentially lying about her personal belief?

She’s a professional and does her job.  I’ve never seen her preach against immunizations to anyone while working (or even while not at work).  I think many face these kind of dilemmas in their professions.  Look at hotels or restaurants owned by members that serve liquor.  Or any number of other examples.  Just because you remain silent doesn’t mean you’re being dishonest or lying.

Edited by JulieM

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1 hour ago, Joe said:

Okay, I'm finally caught up on reading responses to my post. 

When I say, prominent, you guys probably assume stake presidency or high council. I am currently not serving in any of those, but my calling is fairly visible, as I speak in other wards and regularly work directly with the bishops. I spoke in stake conference last year. 

My faith transition began 6 years ago as I dove into church history to prove my brother-in-law wrong that Joseph Smith didn't practice polygamy. I was shocked at what I found. For about 5 years I held onto my beliefs, doubled down, and became the best latter-day saint that I knew how to be. I went to the temple weekly. I showed up for every move and service project. It was a very difficult, yet magical period in my life as I really strove to draw near to God like I never had before. 

It wasn't until about six months ago that I finally admitted to myself that the church isn't what it claims to be. I had made excuses for Joseph Smith for many years and I reached a point that I couldn't do it anymore. I finally said, "The church isn't true" in a prayer and instantly felt peace wash over me as I finally let go and stopped the mental gymnastics that believing in Joseph's claims required.

That was six months ago. A month after my temple recommend interview. Years after I had accepted my current calling.  I didn't lie once, but a lot of you have called me a fraud, which reinforces how I have felt lately. I feel like a fraud. I am living a double life because I keep quiet and let people assume I believe like them.

I have thought about talking to my stake president, but I'm afraid of the consequences. I'm afraid because I've seen how people are treated when they admit that they don't believe anymore. My sister's husband stopped believing talked to his bishop about it. That bishop told him not to talk to anyone in the ward and then put the word out to all his ward to not talk to him, or my sister (who was still a believer), or her kids. 

My wife and kids are still believers and I'm afraid that something similar will happen to them. Also, I like being a member of the church. It's all I've ever known. Even though it's hard to hear people bear testimony of Joseph Smith each Sunday, I still feel like this is my tribe.

Anyway, feel free to ask me anything. 

P.S. I looked up what a sock puppet is, and I assure you that I am not one. 

 

Hello Joe,

I am on the outside looking in now.  I mean I still show up from time to time and sit in the back of sacrament mostly because, well, it's been my whole life and it's my tribe and all of that.  But for me I started peaking into the history and difficulty just after my mission ended in 1997.  I"d buy different ideas and explanations.  I became a Farms contributor and got all their stuff.  I read up all of that stuff from Nibley and wasn't afraid to read everything from anyone else, Fawn Brodie?  Bring it on, said I back in the late 90s when I got a hold of her book.  I got married, attended a FAIr conference or two, opened up a bit and read more from Dialogue and Sunstone.  But something definitely shifted for me when I got married.  Church was definitely something different for me.  I didn't really recognize what it was, but it was.  My wife saw it too.  I remember revealing a quick snippet or two of issues only to see her brought to tears.  I realized, my journey wasn't complete and I was happy enough to push through it, and not bother her with what was troubling to me.  So I maintained regular activity.  I held all sorts of more callings.  And I had plenty of discussions with various leaders.  Some would get upset, yelp at me or call me names.  Others were pretty patient and nice but didn't really understand.  None were very helpful.  then some few years after we married my wife asked me about Joseph's marriages.  I said the devil's in the details.  She took a peak into those details and before long she was telling me she plain wanted out.  

Somehow in our discussions we decided we needed to stay, after all, we'd say "it's our church too" and "we can make it work our own way".  That lasted for a bit.  That was a good 4 or 5 years ago.  Over a year ago, my wife called the YWs pres and told her that she'd need to find a new counselor.  My wife hasn't gone back since.  In our minds we tried every which way we could imagine to make it work.  We look back and think ourselves foolish for that thinking now.  It was difficult and painful, at least for us.  But, you know, it's our journey.  We did what we did and don't really have regrets.  We're happy enough where we're at.  It's relieving to get the point where we are, but also imagine there is so much more ahead of us.  

I read your snippets of your story here and saw plenty to identify with.  Wishing you the best.  Just a quick note to say "hey" and you're not alone.  

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56 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I read your snippets of your story here and saw plenty to identify with.  Wishing you the best.  Just a quick note to say "hey" and you're not alone.  

Thanks for taking the time to help me feel validated. 

I have studied a lot also, putting in many hundreds of hours, but I mostly stayed away from sources that were considered hostile to the church. If anyone showed a negative bias to the church I shut them out. I still am that way for the most part. I still haven't read Fawn Brody's book, but am familiar with it because Richard Bushman quoted it a lot in Rough Stone Rolling. Everything I learned can be found at Deseret book, lds.org, or through source material. There's plenty of damning evidence to be found there.

I fear I will soon find myself on the outside looking in. It has been my experience that someone like me is viewed as a cancer that needs to be removed before it spreads. 

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@Joe, (and others) it is against board rules to make a thread personal or to post "why I left" posts.  No one is being reprimanded but let's remember that going forward.  Otherwise, heads will roll.

 

(o.k., maybe not that last part, but you get my meaning....)

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1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

Some would get upset, yelp at me or call me names.

I think being able to write yelp reviews about other members is a great idea. Just think the next time we see a bishop using his left hand to take the sacrament we can mention it in yelp so visitors will know to stay away from that ward.

😁

 

And Stemelbow, I don't mean to make light of your journey but sometimes laughing helps.

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9 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

I think being able to write yelp reviews about other members is a great idea. Just think the next time we see a bishop using his left hand to take the sacrament we can mention it in yelp so visitors will know to stay away from that ward.

😁

 

And Stemelbow, I don't mean to make light of your journey but sometimes laughing helps.

lol.  You're fine.

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21 minutes ago, Hestia said:

@Joe, (and others) it is against board rules to make a thread personal or to post "why I left" posts.  No one is being reprimanded but let's remember that going forward.  Otherwise, heads will roll.

 

(o.k., maybe not that last part, but you get my meaning....)

oops.  I think I've forgotten that a time or two as the questioning gets personal.  Thanks for the reminder, and I apologize

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6 hours ago, ALarson said:

We've been told on here that we are not to judge whether someone is temple worthy or not.  I agree that is not right to do.  You have no idea what conversations this man has had with his stake president.  Many have temple recommends who no longer believe as they used to or believe that the church is the only true church, etc.  I have had open discussions with my Stake President about my evolving beliefs and he actually agrees with me on some of them.  

Have I no idea what conversations he has had with his stake president?  Of course I don't.  I'm not judging him.  I am treating this as an exercise in logic.  I am a computer programmer.  If one answers the questions in one way, one is entitled to a temple recommend.  If one answers them in another, one is not.  If one does not have testimony of the restored gospel, in relation to the temple recommend interview questions this results in a logical outcome of "not entitled".   But if one's stake president is aware of one's disbelief and still gives one a recommend, then one is de facto worthy of a temple recommend.  Perhaps not de jure, but when a judge in Israel has judged, oh well.

And if an appropriate answer to two questions is optional, why then, we can waive appropriate answers to all of them, can't we?  You're a non-tithepayer?  Oh, nevermind, here's your recommend.  Have to have a martini (shaken not stirred) every day after work to relax?  Sure, why not.  Here's your recommend.  You've joined a polygamous offshoot?  Well, who wouldn't?  Here's your recommend.  It's the wild west out here! Or perhaps we can assign 10 points to each question, with a threshhold number.  Anything over 100 points, and you got your recommend!

Look, I can see renewing a recommend for a person who is having doubts and is trying to work him or herself through them -- attending the temple can presumably help in a faith crisis.  But for someone who has come down on a decision that the Church is a fraud?  In that case, if I were an interviewing authority (once upon a time, I was such), I would withhold issuance of a recommend pending a re-conversion, and I certainly wouldn't call someone to a position that relied upon faith and access to the Spirit, and especially not to a position that amounted to being a judge in Israel.  Unless there were a clear instruction from the Spirit that I should act otherwise.  And if that were the case, I would be delaying issuance of a recommend or calling until I confirmed in fasting and prayer that it was truly according to the Spirit.

And that brings up another problem.  If one does not have a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and his successors, and is in a position to interview for temple recommends, everything goes out the window. One could not ask two questions of interviewees in good faith -- because one would be a hypocrite in connection with the interview.  How does one act as a "judge in Israel" if Israel itself is a fraud?  For that matter, how does such a one teach church classes, having a belief that the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, or Doctrine and Covenants are not what they say they are?  Where it says "Thus saith the Lord" and one doesn't believe the Lord said any such thing?  How the heck could one teach faith in them?  One would be a fraud teaching one's class that Joseph was a prophet, or that Moroni 10:4 offers a route to a testimony.

I suppose someone without a testimony could be a ministering brother or sister.

I'm sure you think I'm being too tightly wound on this.  If so, I admit it.  I am.

 

Quote

Once again, that is between him and his leaders and God.

Yes, it is.  As I said, I am not judging him.  I do not preside over him.  If he has a temple recommend, that has nothing to do with me.  If he holds a "prominent church position" it's none of my business.

All I am saying is that if one answers the T/R questions in one way, one is entitled to a temple recommend.  If one does not, one is not.  

 

 

Edited by Stargazer

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7 hours ago, Tacenda said:

Hamba, you can't be that naive that you don't believe some have high up callings and don't believe. When I participated on the New Order Mormon discussion board, there were several, a Stake President, RS President, Stake Counselor and even a bishop. 

Perhaps you're right and some in high callings don't believe.  

But I am perfectly capable of creating a new user account on this board and then claiming that I am the Pope, slumming amongst the Mormons.  Nobody'd believe me, but ... if I claimed to be a stake president in my new identity, I bet it'd be taken at face value.  And then I could say I didn't believe in the church, and that Joseph Smith was honest but deceived, and then people'd be citing me as evidence that members in high callings didn't believe.

It happens that if lost my testimony but still wanted to participate, I'd refuse callings that were contrary to my belief state.  It would not be honest for me to do otherwise.  As for anyone else in this disbelieving position, I make no judgement -- it's their call.

Edited by Stargazer
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14 minutes ago, Stargazer said:

Have I no idea what conversations he has had with his stake president?  Of course I don't.  I'm not judging him.  I am treating this as an exercise in logic.  I am a computer programmer.  If one answers the questions in one way, one is entitled to a temple recommend.  If one answers them in another, one is not.  If one does not have testimony of the restored gospel, in relation to the temple recommend interview questions this results in a logical outcome of "not entitled".   But if one's stake president is aware of one's disbelief and still gives one a recommend, then one is de facto worthy of a temple recommend.  Perhaps not de jure, but when a judge in Israel has judged, oh well.

And if an appropriate answer to two questions is optional, why then, we can waive appropriate answers to all of them, can't we?  You're a non-tithepayer?  Oh, nevermind, here's your recommend.  Have to have a martini (shaken not stirred) every day after work to relax?  Sure, why not.  Here's your recommend.  You've joined a polygamous offshoot?  Well, who wouldn't?  Here's your recommend.  It's the wild west out here! Or perhaps we can assign 10 points to each question, with a threshhold number.  Anything over 100 points, and you got your recommend!

Look, I can see renewing a recommend for a person who is having doubts and is trying to work him or herself through them -- attending the temple can presumably help in a faith crisis.  But for someone who has come down on a decision that the Church is a fraud?  In that case, if I were an interviewing authority (once upon a time, I was such), I would withhold issuance of a recommend pending a re-conversion, and I certainly wouldn't call someone to a position that relied upon faith and access to the Spirit, and especially not to a position that amounted to being a judge in Israel.  Unless there were a clear instruction from the Spirit that I should act otherwise.  And if that were the case, I would be delaying issuance of a recommend or calling until I confirmed in fasting and prayer that it was truly according to the Spirit.

And that brings up another problem.  If one does not have a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and his successors, and is in a position to interview for temple recommends, everything goes out the window. One could not ask two questions of interviewees in good faith -- because one would be a hypocrite in connection with the interview.  How does one act as a "judge in Israel" if Israel itself is a fraud?  For that matter, how does such a one teach church classes, having a belief that the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, or Doctrine and Covenants are not what they say they are?  Where it says "Thus saith the Lord" and one doesn't believe the Lord said any such thing?  How the heck could one teach faith in them?  One would be a fraud teaching one's class that Joseph was a prophet, or that Moroni 10:4 offers a route to a testimony.

I suppose someone without a testimony could be a ministering brother or sister.

I'm sure you think I'm being too tightly wound on this.  If so, I admit it.  I am.

 

Yes, it is.  As I said, I am not judging him.  I do not preside over him.  If he has a temple recommend, that has nothing to do with me.  If he holds a "prominent church position" it's none of my business.

All I am saying is that if one answers the T/R questions in one way, one is entitled to a temple recommend.  If one does not, one is not.  

 

 

Thanks for explaining more of your thoughts, Stargazer.  

If you missed it, Joe returned and posted more information (answering many of the questions others wondered about or had asked after his initial post).  He clarifies many of your questions regarding his specific circumstances too.

http://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/71527-why-some-people-leave-the-church/?do=findComment&comment=1209886822

 

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Judging the concept is extremely different than sitting at a dinner table where one person announces a struggle and then everyone else just talks about him there, at the table, as if he doesn’t exist there, and stating your opinions about whether or not he has a place at the table. 

I actually understand the point of view that says “be congruent in your life.” “Be authentic” “believe and live what you teach”.   But life is way more complicated than that. 

If embracing Joseph Smith’s polygamy is a prerequisite for holding a calling at church ( this is hyperbole yes) then a few dudes will be holding a lot of responsibilities on Sundays.  

This guy is scared.  joe.  Let’s not shame him publically.  Come on guys. Start a new thread on the concept of who is worthy to hold which callings or something.  Let’s make it safe for those struggling to reach out! 

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11 hours ago, ALarson said:

That is something you can't change and is also something that is a natural consequence of what is currently going on within the church.  Just because a member no longer believes as they used to believe, it does not make them unworthy to serve.  That's up to their leaders anyway....it's not up to you to pass judgement on them.

But it is not up to the leadership if the member does not share their beliefs or disbeliefs with them.  Leadership does not have the ability to choose if not given the information.

If the leadership knows there is disbelief and chooses the member to hold the calling anyway, that is significantly different than if the member withholds intentionally the info and therefore the leadership makes the calling based on faulty assumptions about the member's beliefs.

Does anyone else see a parallel with the "trust crisis" mentioned in another thread?

Edited by Calm
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