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"Why some people leave the Church"

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11 minutes ago, Calm said:

But it is not up to the leadership if the member does not share their beliefs or disbeliefs with them.  

Why not?  From what I've seen it is still up to the leader to determine whether or not to issue a calling or keep a person in a calling.   Even if a member does not reveal all of their doubts, feelings or beliefs, I believe it is still up to the leader regarding how to proceed with a calling.  Of course,  the member has a role or a voice in it as well.

(Or maybe I'm missing your point?)

Edited by ALarson

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23 minutes ago, MustardSeed said:

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! 

Joe chose to make public his choice not to share with his leaders his disbelief in the Church on a message board that dissects every little thing someone says.

For me, it is not about holding disbeliefs while teaching....if one's leaders know this about you and call you, then I applaud anyone making the effort to fill that calling to the best of their ability.

If one intentionally hides what might disqualify them as teachers in at least some leaders' eyes (and I don't think one can tell until one shares) and then accepts the calling on that basis, then I am very concerned because of several implications and possible fallout.

I don't particularly enjoy discussing my health choices with people who don't know me who might have an effect on my day to day life.  I have had enough leaders, friends, and relatives convinced they were qualified to counsel me on my activity with Church or school or family and how I was failing as a teacher, friend, or mother, I would prefer not having to risk being looked at as a hypochondriac yet again. However, I have swallowed my pride and fear and discussed my limitations to the best of my ability because I prefer people having realistic expectations of me in order to prevent those I become responsible for/to from being hurt because I couldn't fulfill their plans for me.

I can understand not sharing things that won't have an impact on one serving as an employee or volunteer, but when it is intimately intertwined with one's work, especially when one can serve in other ways and one could refuse a calling without much blowback...I just don't get it.

Edited by Calm
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52 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

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

I'm so very guilty of doing it as well.

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11 minutes ago, Calm said:

Joe chose to make public his choice not to share with his leaders his disbelief in the Church on a message board that dissects every little thing someone says.

It’s too bad, really, that it has to be that way. 

I feel like the in-law who just married into a family and after a few months says “this is messed up” and the system replies “well, it’s how we do things around here so yeah” . And nothing changes. 

Edited by MustardSeed

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10 minutes ago, ALarson said:

Why not?  From what I've seen it is still up to the leader to determine whether or not to issue a calling or keep a person in a calling.   Even if a member does not reveal all of their doubts, feelings or beliefs, I believe it is still up to the leader regarding how to proceed with a calling.  Of course,  the member has a role or a voice in it as well.

(Or maybe I'm missing your point?)

I am talking about making an informed choice.

If you were hiring a tutor for your children for all subjects and they didn't share with you they weren't trained in teaching math because they saw themselves as great English teachers, would you feel you had enough info to make a good decision about hiring them?  If you hired them, but then found out they were avoiding helping your child with math, but excelling with English, would you still feel comfortable with them as a tutor?  Or would you at least consider pulling them off of teaching math and finding someone else to provide that subject for your child?  Perhaps you might feel cheated even given you were paying them for covering a full school curriculum, but only got a partial?

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1 minute ago, Calm said:

I am talking about making an informed choice.

If you were hiring a tutor for your children for all subjects and they didn't share with you they weren't trained in teaching math because they saw themselves as great English teachers, would you feel you had enough info to make a good decision about hiring them?  If you hired them, but then found out they were avoiding helping your child with math, but excelling with English, would you still feel comfortable with them as a tutor?  Or would you at least consider pulling them off of teaching math and finding someone else to provide that subject for your child?  Perhaps you might feel cheated even given you were paying them for covering a full school curriculum, but only got a partial?

I get what you are saying.  I just don't think it's that black and white when dealing with callings.  It's also just a fact that many who are struggling absolutely are not ready to talk about it or reveal where they're at.  Maybe the calling they are being issued is exactly what they need and is an answer to their prayers for help too.  It's just a very complex issue, IMO.

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1 minute ago, MustardSeed said:

It’s too bad, really, that it has to be that way. 

I feel like the in-law who just married into a family and after a few months says “this is messed up” and the system replies “well, it’s how we do things around here so yeah” . 

The question is though whether it is the system that is messed up or someone has unrealistic expectations.

If Joe says 'I made a mistake in bringing it up and would like to withdraw my comment', I am happy to drop the subject.  But he was using himself as an example from what I could tell and therefore it is just strange to me to think we shouldn't discuss his example at all.

I do agree there should be limits, but debating whether the behaviour is appropriate when it is presented as such shouldn't be one of those limits, imo, any more than debating whether a behaviour is actually physically healthy when it is presented as such.

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2 minutes ago, ALarson said:

I get what you are saying.  I just don't think it's that black and white when dealing with callings.  It's also just a fact that many who are struggling absolutely are not ready to talk about it or reveal where they're at.  Maybe the calling they are being issued is exactly what they need and is an answer to their prayers for help too.  It's just a very complex issue, IMO.

I don't think it is black and white either, which is why I think potential issues should be discussed.

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3 minutes ago, Calm said:

The question is though whether it is the system that is messed up or someone has unrealistic expectations.

If Joe says 'I made a mistake in bringing it up and would like to withdraw my comment', I am happy to drop the subject.  But he was using himself as an example from what I could tell and therefore it is just strange to me to think we shouldn't discuss his example at all.

I agree.  But the judging and name calling was not right to do.  I think most on here are able to have a civil discussion without doing that on most any topic.  If not, then they should step back and remove themselves from the conversation, IMO.  Notice that Joe did not respond in a like manner, but returned and tried to clarify without lashing back.  

Edited by ALarson

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2 minutes ago, Calm said:

The question is though whether it is the system that is messed up or someone has unrealistic expectations.

If Joe says 'I made a mistake in bringing it up and would like to withdraw my comment', I am happy to drop the subject.  But he was using himself as an example from what I could tell and therefore it is just strange to me to think we shouldn't discuss his example at all.

I do agree there should be limits, but debating whether the behaviour is appropriate when it is presented as such shouldn't be one of those limits, imo, any more than debating whether a behaviour is actually physically healthy when it is presented as such.

Very well then, again we will agree to disagree.

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Just now, ALarson said:

I agree.  But the judging and name calling was not right to do.  I think most on here are able to have a civil discussion without doing that on most any topic.  If not, they should step back and remove themselves from the conversation.  Notice that Joe did not respond in a like manner, but returned and tried to clarify.  

I see it this way too.


 

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9 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. 

And some of them will have even been telling the truth about their double lives.

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21 minutes ago, Calm said:

Let's be clear on why those of us who see a problem with Joe holding a teaching position have that problem.

First, He has concluded Joseph "made it up".  He is not expressing uncertainty here.

Joe did return and give more information regarding his calling and what has transpired (and in what order).  Did you see that, Calm?  (I know I've missed posts before so that's why I'm asking....) 

He has not spoken out against Joseph Smith (publicly) and still testifies of his belief in Jesus Christ and the gospel.  

I don't know....I agree that he's in a tough spot.  I would be surprised if he doesn't end up feeling he needs to be released.  Of course, I only know what he's posted here.....but just reading between the lines....

Edited by ALarson

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8 hours ago, ALarson said:

You seem angry too.

Nope, not angry at all. Which I guess just reinforces that people are not always as they seem.

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5 hours 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. 

 

It does make a difference to me this is a relatively short time experience, a new stage of your life and you are likely still in the process of figuring it out.  I still see a huge responsibility in choosing to be a teacher.  A teacher in my view needs to be honest and open to the best of their ability and highly committed to their work and if they can't be (and there are many good reasons people shouldn't be as well as bad ones), they need to find some way to remove themselves from the teaching, especially if there are others to fill their shoes...which I suspect is the case in your current church calling.

If you are not comfortable sharing the primary reason of resigning of disbelief, perhaps examining your life for other reasons to resign form your calling should be considered? And then use these reasons for resigning.  Wanting to thoroughly commit to family study, feeling a need to personally focus on some aspect of your life...brainstorm, pray, study your life until you can come up with one that feels honest to you.

I get not wanting your inner dialogue to become gossip fodder or for you and your family to become viewed as a Church project, which is certainly one of many possibilities that needs to be considered in your choices.  Or being treated as an outsider in your church family.  That is heartbreaking and wrong when it happens.

But I think you need to consider the possibilities of what might happened to those you are trying to affect in a positive way if they find out their expectations of you as their teacher were wrong.  Or the possibility that your disbelief is affecting how you teach and interact with others in negative ways you may not currently recognize.  Or how feeling you have to hide it, that you are a fraud while in a position of some authority is weighing on you and causing resentments, guilt, or other feelings that then impact the quality of your relationships.  While it is your choice, I see very high costs in staying in a place where you feel a fraud, both to you and others.

 

Edited by Calm
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6 hours ago, Tacenda said:

But lately the talks by leaders are scaring folks away from people like me. Like I'm a piranha or something.

Just so you know: you don't scare me at all, Tacenda. :good:

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I think folks are rarely transparent about why they leave the church. The leaders have gone astray or the church is wrong on gays, etc. is a transparent excuse for someone who wants to appear to take the high road of apostasy (lol) when in fact they're looking to embrace the world by walking away from the church. 

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4 hours 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. 

I'd guess stake sunday school presidency, then, or stake young men's presidency, or similar.  No need to confirm this.  My earlier concern was indeed something like stake high council or stake presidency, and the way you put it I assumed a long-standing status.  Your newly-minted unbelief puts a completely different face on it.  Thanks for clearing this up.  

4 hours ago, Joe said:

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.

I shan't attempt to argue over "peace" in regards to this.  A long time ago I had a difficult question to answer, and I wondered if I should go ahead with an action despite how messed up the situation was, and the Lord gave me peace over it.  In fact, I would have described the experience exactly as you have, as "instantly felt peace wash over me".  It turned out that this was the path the Lord wanted me to go, but in the short term it resulted in very negative consequences -- four years of a lot of heartache, in fact, and a residual heartache that went on for years.  My own actions had precipitated the situation -- and the Lord apparently wanted me to learn a lesson.  I'm not saying that is what is going on with you.  Our circumstances are quite different, aside from the matter of "peace".  Which I agree is a very pleasant feeling.

If you later turned the corner and found your way back into faith, you would find yourself not alone.  If you dig into Social Hall you can find an old thread about a member who lost his faith, became an actual anti-Mormon for a time, but later found his way back.  His story in its early stages resembles yours, actually.  Except that he had his name removed (excommunicated by request, since name-removal didn't exist back in 1989).  Perhaps you might like to watch the video.  It's here -- it's rather entertaining, believe it or not.  Saints Unscripted: An Ex-ex-Mormon's Story.  He actually mentions this board (not by name) and even one of the frequent posters here (@Garden Girl ).  There's also the story of Don Bradley (an occasional poster here): see the SLC Tribune's story about him: The Rest is History: How a Mormon scholar turned doubter, then believer.

Perhaps these stories will do nothing for you.  But I just wanted to make sure you saw them.

4 hours ago, Joe said:

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 may have used the "f" word, but upon fuller information I take it back, and I wasn't calling you a fraud in any case (I hope), just that holding a high position under the situation as it appeared seemed fraudulent.  You're not a fraud.  You simply find yourself in an unfortunate situation that is not fully of your own making.  I can most definitely sympathize with you.  I'd be very distressed, too!

I was imagining the case of you being in a stake presidency or something -- crikey! 

4 hours ago, Joe said:

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. 

It's a sick situation, bro.  My stepson is a returned missionary who has lost his faith to a degree, but when he consulted with our bishop over it, the bishop was very understanding and loving towards him, and nothing like you describe has happened to him.  What happened to your brother-in-law isn't necessarily (or even likely) to happen to you -- unless you share the same bishop!  I would hope not, anyway.  You know your bishop and your stake president, presumably. Do they seem like this is how they would react?  

That actually sucks, your brother-in-law's experience.  What part of the meaning of "confidentiality" doesn't his bishop understand?  Makes me grind my teeth.

4 hours ago, Joe said:

My wife and kids are still believers and I'm afraid that something similar will happen to them.

I wonder if you should do like the prophet Nathan did when confronting King David about the Uriah/Bathsheba situation?  He presented a hypothetical situation to the King that was similar to David's action, and the king got real upset and came down on the matter like a ton of bricks.  Then Nathan told him: Gotcha!  Peradventure you could come up with a hypothetical situation that resembled your own, and ask your stake president what he would do in such a case?  But frame it as if it were something someone had told you about.  See what he says, and if it looks dire, just back off. Maybe write a letter to Elder Uchtdorf.  No, I'm not joking -- you never know, you might get an answer!  I once wrote a letter to Elder Oaks and got a response -- in my case I was being recalcitrant about something and he called me to repentance in his letter!  I repented really quickly, I must say.  

4 hours ago, Joe said:

 

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.

Well, I like it, too.  I occasionally hear testimonies from members who testify to some pretty odd things in testimony meeting.  It's hard to hear these sometimes, but it's not that hard to just let them roll off my back.  

4 hours ago, Joe said:

Anyway, feel free to ask me anything.

I really do sympathize with you, Joe.  I do believe that I've heard or read all the things that have caused you to lose faith in the Church (Joseph's polygamy, etc).  But all I've ever had from it was momentary puzzlement.  I shall not attempt to dissuade you from what you've come to believe, or not believe -- that's a problem that you'll have to deal with yourself.  But at the risk of seeming to be speaking from a position of wealth to one in poverty (as in "let them eat cake"), I think the problem is superficial to a certain degree.  I found that despite it all, the reality of the Restoration and the genuineness of Joseph's prophetic call shone forth to me through manifestations of the Spirit that I cannot deny.  It isn't my place to be presenting those experiences to you, because they won't help you.  You have to seek your own -- and perhaps you need a cooling-off period in order to approach things from a different avenue.  

If you want my advice, which you might not, here it is.  For the time being, I would just let things be.  Perhaps consider floating a trial balloon to your leaders, testing the waters a bit, but in any case continue fulfilling your calling as you have been, and let things settle out in your mind.  Does your wife know about the matter?  I am very hesitant in advising you about telling her if she isn't.  I know that my wife is having a degree of distress dealing with her son's disenchantment with the Church.  But avoiding the issue over the long term isn't a good idea.  You know, you can still pray about how to approach this.  If you've gotten peace over the matter as you describe it, perhaps you'll get some over the rest of it. 

4 hours ago, Joe said:

 

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

 

 

I have a sock puppet, by the way!  It's @Telescope .  I created it to test a problem I was having with the board software.  Turned out the board software didn't just hate me, it also hated my sock puppet.

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18 minutes ago, ALarson said:

Joe did return and give more information regarding his calling and what has transpired (and in what order).  Did you see that, Calm?  (I know I've missed posts before so that's why I'm asking....) 

He has not spoken out against Joseph Smith (publicly) and still testifies of his belief in Jesus Christ and the gospel.  

I don't know....I agree that he's in a tough spot.  I would be surprised if he doesn't end up feeling he needs to be released.  Of course, I only know what he's posted here.....but just reading between the lines....

While his post informs me much better about his personal struggle, I don't see it as changing the fundamental issue of being expected to be a teacher/witness of something he believes is a fraud.

It is a very difficult spot.  It is unfortunately a relatively common human experience as most of us change as our lives pass and we end up being in a significantly different place while in relationships that expect us not to change.  And some that need us not to change so we end up having to leave that specific relationship, though hopefully we are able to maintain our bonds with others by either strengthening other relationships we have with individuals or creating new ones (no longer a teach, but a friend perhaps).

Got to go do errands for my mom.

Edited by Calm
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1 hour ago, ALarson said:

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

 

Yes, I saw that.  And responded, being more enlightened about his situation.  One day I hope to have trained myself to delay reacting to what people say when I have incomplete information about them.  

It's a heartbreaking place to be.  I can imagine being there, if I rev up my imagination sufficiently.  It would take a great deal of courage to deal with appropriately, I am certain.

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4 hours ago, JulieM said:

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.

I know a tax accountant who is completely opposed to the federal income tax.  He does everything he can to keep people out of the IRS's crosshairs.  Even helped me out of a jam once!  Old high school buddy I hadn't seen in decades until Facebook came into existence.

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8 hours ago, ALarson said:

I know many who are serving in leadership positions.  You do too but you just don't know it 😛

I know this is a common internet meme in certain critical circles, but it appears to me to be about as accurate (and hopeful!) as similar claims that the Church is on the brink of complete collapse. Are there closeted unbelievers hiding their infidelity in leadership positions? No doubt. One can even find examples of this phenomenon in both scripture and Restoration history. Are they all around us (like communists under the bed)? Nope.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan

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10 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I know this is a common internet meme in certain critical circles, but it appears to me to be about as accurate (and hopeful!) as similar claims that the Church is on the brink of complete collapse. Are there closeted unbelievers hiding their infidelity in leadership positions? No doubt. One can even find examples of this phenomenon in both scripture and Restoration history. Are they all around us (like communists under the bed)? Nope.

I don’t read what was said that way, not at all (no one says we’re surrounded or that they are “all around us”).

I personally know of a few in leadership positions who no longer believe or are struggling, but who still love the gospel and the people they still desire to serve.  I think that’s what was meant from what I could tell.

Edited by JulieM
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7 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I know this is a common internet meme in certain critical circles, but it appears to me to be about as accurate (and hopeful!) as similar claims that the Church is on the brink of complete collapse. Are there closeted unbelievers hiding their infidelity in leadership positions? No doubt. One can even find examples of this phenomenon in both scripture and Restoration history. Are they all around us (like communists under the bed)? Nope.

If there were communists under my bed, they'd have to have the relative dimensions of flatworms.  There's very little space down there.

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