Dear Mormons, it’s time for a change.

Sometimes I admit when I think about where I was a few years ago…I can’t help but laugh at the fact that my life has done a complete 180.  Seriously though I mean I’m now the Young Women President, I live in New Jersey and my closest friend out here is my ex husbands wife! I mean you have to laugh at that! I’ve had so many friends ask me what changed me? I don’t know that I have “changed” really. My environment changed and the people around me changed, and this has allowed me to change my perspective. So now my priorities have changed. I have come to a point and age that being a mom and teaching my kids good values and principles and relying on God to guide my family is more important than a night of drinking, is more important than being a territorial mom, is more important than being bitter, is more important than what others think of me, is more important than literally any worldly thing. 

However, being a divorced Mormon woman is not easy. Being an active church going Mormon single mom is even harder. I vividly remember the feeling sitting in church shortly after getting divorced and the talks in sacrament were on the Priesthood in the home. “Shoot me now” I thought. Please please put me out of my misery. As the talk went on about all the good a worthy Priesthood holder in the home can do, I wanted to get up and leave. I looked at my beautiful girls and wondered how I would explain that we don’t have the Priesthood in our home anymore. I got so angry at this point. How can a church only give Priesthood to the men?! What about the single women? I wanted to go full Beyoncé on them and start a single lady revolution! 

I felt so inadequate as a mom, and as a woman at that moment. After that Sunday it felt as if every “happily” married woman was either judging me or felt bad for my situation. And I know that it probably wasn’t true ALL of the time, but when you grow up in a church that preaches the Priesthood is the most important force in the home for protection and direction, ya tend to really get down on yourself when that’s not happening in your home. That feeling of inadequacy is another part of my inactivity in the church. 

I’m going to be blunt with you. We (I include myself) as members of the LDS church really suck at not judging. If you want to argue with me about this that’s fine, but I will just tell you how in denial you are. We are raised with the mindset that women grow up, marry a “worthy” Priesthood holder (preferably a returned missionary) most often at a young age (18-20) in the Temple, and then life is just rainbows and butterflies. It’s not of course because we become babies raising babies, and yet we put on this social media show that everything is perfect in our life! Then when that perfection comes crumbling down for a friend or FB friend (yeah you know what I mean, the people we just creep on but never talk to in public) we instantly judge the situation and the rumor mill begins, yet forgetting that maybe our lives aren’t so perfect either. I can not tell you how many random messages I got on FB from people who I hadn’t spoken to in years wondering what happened to my marriage and happy to lend their two cents about it! 

The LDS church can be a beautiful place to go and grow in the gospel, but it can also be extremely intimidating to a person who has had major struggles and trials or doesn’t have that “picture perfect” life. I think this is why God knew in order for me or my husband to embrace the church we had to get out of Idaho/Utah area. I am here to tell you right now that the church is the same everywhere you go, but the members are not. If you are easily affended please do not read on because I may say something you don’t agree with. I wont apologize though for my own opinion, and this is solely based on my experiences…so get your thick skin on and read at your own risk…

After my divorce I was surprised how quick those around me picked sides or bashed on my ex or me. I lost people close to me because of this, family I loved, friends I treasured. The further I fell from the church the worse it got. Instead of those in the church that had known me for years reaching out to just show love and acceptance they said hurtful judgemental comments or completely shut me out of their circle. “Jessie had fallen off the deep end” which sure I had a little, but wasn’t that allowed considering my circumstances? Aren’t we all just on the edge of a mental break down? I even moved into a ward that never even reached out to me in Pocatello. Hello?!? For heavens sake I was surrounded by LDS members there?! Yes I understand that it is on me too but we all need someone to kinda give us a boost when down. I don’t mean the required visiting teaching or home teaching, I mean being genuinely interested and concerned about a person. I don’t limit this to just church members either. I truly feel that many members (not all of course) in these highly populated LDS areas walk around with an “I’m better than my neighbor” attitude, specifically their nonmember neighbor. I don’t think we as members mean to or purposely ignore those that aren’t of the same faith or inactive, but it’s easy to forget about “them” because well there’s an overwhelming number of active Mormons to interact with, it’s almost like LDS members seclude themselves in a big bubble. I have even heard stories about not letting your kids play with non Mormon children. To that I say shame on us! 

     When we came to our New Jersey ward it was like a melting pot of people from all different backgrounds. People have to travel up to 45 minutes to church and the ward is spread out over an hour from each other. Many, actually probably most are converts to the church (meaning they weren’t born into an LDS family). This true conversion has made them stronger than many members I have met growing up that do it because it’s all they know and are riding on the coat tails of their parents. Going to church and living the Gospel takes more of an effort in sparsely populated LDS areas because typically not one neighbor or friend outside of the ward is LDS.  It has also made the people in our ward more accepting of those whose faith may be waivering, or who are fighting addictions, who are gay, who practice another religion or no religion, and who have married their ex husbands wife’s ex husband (oh yeah that’s me!) etc. They welcomed me and Brandon, and my ex and his wife with no questions (well maybe a few questions!). As a result we are all now active members of the LDS church. I honestly don’t think we would have received the same kind of welcome in Idaho. I would hope now we would because we have shown through social media and to our friends that we are an amazing duo of parents who are raising our kids in the church. Yet, why should it be necessary to be accepted only if we are all members? We were pretty awesome parents without the church too, our kids are proof enough of that.

If you think I’m off my rocker, then fine, let’s just put that on my “tab”, but I also ask you to look around at those people in your ward or neighborhood who maybe you avoid because of their background or current living situation, maybe they have tattoos that cover their body (gasp!), maybe they drink alcohol (oh my!), maybe the single mom down the street wears shorts so short her booty sticks out (go mama!). I speak to the adults here when I say these things are not contagious! You can say no to a beer at your neighbors BBQ. As my husband would say, “I’m pretty sure God would rather see you drink a beer than mistreat one of his children.” Seriously though, I want you to think, what would God say about your treatment of them? Maybe you haven’t avoided them all together but are you actively engaged in helping them or getting to know them and becoming their friend? Are we considerate as we talk or give lessons that maybe someone in the room is truly struggling or is an investigator to the church and we could stand to be a bit more sensitive? It isn’t always black and white people. If it was, would God of said “you without sin throw the first stone?”

During a talk in my New Jersey ward before Brandon was baptized, someone was in tune with the spirit as He spoke about the Priesthood. He said that the Priesthood is available to all worthy members. That we can pray to our Heavenly Father at any time and ask for help through the power of the Priesthood and that women can protect and help their family through Him. I perked right up from the sacrament trance I was in. It was exactly what I needed to hear after I had been so discouraged years before, and it was a truth that I think we forget to tell our young women or single momma’s. It won’t always be rainbows and butterflies, but we as women in the church are just as capable of blessing our families even if their isn’t a Priesthood holder in our home. 

 For those reading this and have no idea what in the heck I’m referring to here’s a brief summary on what the Priesthood is and why it is important to us at Lds.org .

So let’s fast forward past the part where my husband obviously was baptized (insert angels singing hallelujahs). You can refer to my earlier post, We Are Never Getting Back Together for all those juicy details! 

My parents came to visit this past Easter and we took a trip to the sacred grove. The spirit we felt was indescribable, and it’d take a whole blog post to even begin to try. However, as I walked around with the kids I looked back and saw that my husband had sat down on a bench with his hands folded and was praying.  Praying in the same place Joseph Smith came looking for answers. Think about how everyone treated him? The persecution he endured and how everyone looked at him a bit differently and quite frankly many thought (and still do) that he was crazy. We’ve come a long way as a church since then but we of course have a long ways to go, yet we won’t get there by secluding ourselves in our own Mormon bubbles.


That day in the Sacred Grove, I didn’t bother Brandon as he prayed, except yes I snuck a picture because what he didn’t realize was how much this touched my heart and I wanted this moment captured forever. We never talked about it, he just quietly got up, took my hand and continued walking through this sacred place, but deep down I knew what was in his heart because it was in mine too. 


The next Sunday it was Easter. The holiday we remember what our Savior did for us. ALL of us. Not just members of the LDS church. There was a quite stillness in the room as men that had made an impact in not only my husbands life but mine, stood in a circle with their hands on Brandon’s head. These men were the same ones from all walks of life, many converts themselves, many the only members of their families, and all of them never once looked at Brandon’s tattoos, or past, and walked away but each took turns sitting in on Brandon’s discussions and got to know him. Genuinely. They never judged. My Dad stood tallest among them and spoke so gently and yet with authority as He gave my husband the Melchizedek Priesthood. 

I didn’t think FINALLY I have the Priesthood in my home, because I knew it was there already, but I was just proud of Brandon. Probably the most proud I’d ever been of him. Not because he changed. He didn’t. He still had tattoos, He still cursed a little or a lot (sorry babe), He was still the man I fell in love with. Why would I want him to change? He just took all the Christ like attributes he already had in him, the ones I saw in him and fell in love with because of, and was magnifying them in ways that will continue to bless our family for generations. 

So this brings me back to our judgement of those around us. It would have been easy for those people in our NJ ward to cast us aside and think surely this family is a lost cause. I mean seriously think about how crazy this all is?! Instead they opened up their arms and embraced our crazy mess and loved our imperfections. 

I know if it wasn’t for the people in the place we live now none of this would have happened. Again, look around you, who in your church, your neighborhood, or work, could you be a bit more accepting of? By changing your perspective, you could change their life. My family is proof of that. 

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26 Comments

  1. I haven’t read through this whole post, I stopped at how no one in the church reached out to you. That is a HUGE problem in the church and a major factor why I’m not active today. I’ve had such a hard upbringing & I was a convert & treated like the outsider.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your experiences. You are amazing!

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  2. Jessie, I’m amazed at your ability to share your experiences with others. I feel like I need to say sorry to you for holding a grudge for a time. When I first met you it was at a lunch in the park and I was new in the ward so sat with your group for lunch. You all talked and had fun. I chimed in with something about divorce or depression, don’t remember which and your comment which I no longer remember either made me feel so judged and hurt that after listening to the other women there that day, I too decided that I was tired of our judgemental church. I know the gospel is true, but you are right, we are all judgemental. I was so tired of being judged I decided I was done with church if my husband didn’t become active again. Well My husband did become active, we were in that ward for him to become active, not me, so I never went inactive but was sorely tempted, instead I just stayed away from people and didn’t make any friends. A year or so later when I found out you were getting divorced, I went from hurt that you and your friends were judgemental or just not understanding of divorced women to sorry you were going through it to. However, I have never been a very social person, so never approached you. So I guess I want to say I’m sorry, you sound like a wonderful person and friend that I could have had if I hadn’t let my own insecurities and struggles get to me. Keep enjoying your journey through life. 🙂

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  3. I’m deeply sorry that you felt so ostricised in Pocatello of all places…. I live in Idaho and my husband isn’t active, but I am fortunate enough to live in a good Ward…. God always puts us where we need to be when we need it most! This helps me to struggle on because I know one day something or someone will come along that gets my husband on track again… thanks for sharing 🙂

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  4. I think it is sad how we can be so hard on each other. We tend to always want to blame someone else for our hurts and insecurities. It is a mortal thing to do. Just because I am a latter-day saint doesnt mean that I handle all of my relatioships perfectly. It is a hard thing to know that people are watching and judging the way I serve. Most of us are just trying our best. Im sorry that your journey is hard right now, but don’t blame it on other people. It was your choice to stop going to church. I go to church to worship God and to try to serve others the best I can.

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  5. To the above comment–I don’t think her intention was to blame anyone else, just pointing out from where she was coming from she felt very judged. I have a few loved ones who have felt the same way living in “mormonville” and I feel like when you make different choices Satan uses that against you to make you uncomfortable and make you feel like you don’t belong and you shouldn’t be there–I am a very active member of the LDS church and agree wholeheartedly that a lot of the Idaho/Utah Mormons are pretty dang judgmental as a whole. Not every single person, but the culture of it. I have been guilty of befriending people just hoping one day they’ll come back to church because I love the Gospel. The problem is I have looked at myself and realized for a time I didn’t know how to be friends with someone who wasn’t active or wasn’t a member. I felt awkward around them because I talk about church stuff a lot. I don’t swear and don’t like to hear others swear, I don’t drink and don’t feel comfortable when other people are drinking. Point being, I am one of the Idaho/Utah Mormons who sees there is a stigma there and there is a need for some change. It might be from generations before us even, we all need to just keep on working and loving and serving the best we can.

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  6. Love this! And to Anonymous who said “it was your choice to stop going to church” I typed out at least 10 different reply’s to your comment, but in the end realized none of them were worth it. So, let me just say, I did not like your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh how I too wish I could go back and say things differently. I am so sorry for my my judgmental comments. I don’t know who you are, but thank you for forgiving me. Why we sometimes have to go through terrible life altering moments to realize our stupidity I dunno, but thank you for seeing past mine! May you continue to find joy in your journey as well! God Bless!
    PS…if we ever cross paths again, please introduce yourself to me!

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  8. Thank you for your perspective. Doing the best we can is all God asks for! I’m sorry if you interpreted my post differently than I intended. Our journeys are all hard, that’s the point, let’s help ease each others burdens yeah? Be well and thank you for commenting.

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  9. Hey it’s Stephanie Dixon 🙂 just wanted to say how much this post means to me!!!! Your amazing an this really hit home for me!!! Love you girl 💓😘

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for your insight! We Mormons are very human and FAR from perfect and we do judge, even if we don’t want to admit it. It’s important to realize the hurt that judging others causes and try to be better. Flawed as we are, my life is far better having the gospel in it, than not.

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  11. I agree this post mean a lot to me . I was a single mom raising five kids and one day I discovered I did have the pre stood in my home. Faith can go a long way it helped me be strong and raise my children and I had four daughters and they have beautiful husbands and beautiful children and one son who is finally back in the church with a beautiful wife and now has four children and the priest and was never – in my home but it wasn’t in my home the way a man is and I’m still single still looking for that number one man in my life I am the ruler over my home with out a priesthood holder but I still have the priesthood and I agree with you everybody my best friends are not members and I don’t do what they do but we love each other and Karen we value each other’s lives and respect each other I don’t have that many I don’t have any Mormon friends cuz I can’t be me around them because they’re too judgemental

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  12. I guess because of Facebook shares I have read many similar experiences, and I obviously read them because I appreciate them. Thank you for sharing. And with points of humor to articulate. 🙂 I think a level of reverse judgement is always at play and I think what makes this post so special in action is the commenter who knew you and your interaction here. (I’m able to distinguish in my own mind better about the priesthood as a topic, the speaker might have done his or her best too in fact, but to well include or articulate for a few minutes if I’m given the opportunity about how we all have access to the priesthood because it’s true. It is a service; akin to the scripture that by and large! the right hand not knows what the left doeth, they are so diligent in that regard in my experience. Everything they do is with permission.) Importantly: I am apt to make a personal study of what ever topic concerns me since one speaker or discussion simply can’t say it all. That’s where conversion comes anyway so thank you for the invitation I’m feeling to do so. It helps my goal to focus on the Savior so much that I just cannot be offended. That’s important to me. I pray that the things I’ve said including ones that sound better in my head and oops I’ve sailed that ship, that they will forget my clumsy and I can improve. My bffs at times as kids were always the non members come to think of it (my parents were not judgy) and I grew up near Pocatello. I don’t live there any more either min you. I just know I don’t do well living in a “fishbowl” but that’s just how I felt not everyone does so that’s good for them. (The bubble feels so real.)

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  13. That quote is a Goethe quote, whether Monson cited it or not. Good read, love to read other perspectives, and love to see people overcoming challenges (or perceived challenges) to stay close to the Gospel of Jesus.

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  14. The people are different in Jersey. I loved the Short Hills ward, and my testimony grew as all my non member friends asked me again and again what I believed in. I live in Utah now, but I hope I will always keep my New Jersey time with me and see everyone as God would. ❤️

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  15. It’s easy for people to confuse things in “the Church.” All my life I’ve heard, “The Church is True. The Church is True!” Well, I’m sorry . . . but “the Church” is an organization, and it includes over 15,000,000 people, all the way from Thomas Monson down to the last person baptized today. You don’t hear that about any other organization, like “the Rotary Club is true!’ or “the Marine Corps is true!” So what are they talking about when they say “the Church is True?” I think what most people mean to mean is that the theology is true, and/or the restoration is true and authentic. But so often, it isn’t the theology that people concern themselves with . . . it’s the social structure, the society, etc. The Gospel of Salvation is not the same as the gospel of failure (you mustn’t succeed), the gospel of goofy (false, weak, or superfluous doctrine and conjecture), or the standard of stupid (asinine behavior justified by some facet of religion). I think it’s vital that we concern ourselves with the Gospel of Salvation, and not get all strung out on all the other stuff, which causes people to quietly leave and loudly leave, because they feel too many just lose sight of too much truth.

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  16. I do agree with many parts of this article. Being raised mostly around Mormons does change things and many are judgmental, but I also know many who are not. That means that even Idaho/Utah Mormons don’t need to be lumped into one basket when it comes to loving people for who they are. I believe also that the Lord is trying to prepare us quickly so we can help “hasten the work”. For this purpose, it takes all kinds of folks with their own experience and background. I think the Lord needs all of us and His ways of getting us to understand His truths and realities are amazing. I have learned hard lessons about being less judgmental, and my testimony, continuing from my childhood, has grown even larger. Since the Lord knows our hearts, He knows what we need to learn the most and I pray we will take advantage of that when we have opportunities to do so. We can all be his servants and learn to love others as He does.

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  17. First I want to say that I live and grew up in Idaho. As a child growing up in the 70s and 80s, being Lutheran with no desire of changing my religion, and going to school with a class that was 75% LDS it wasn’t easy. I was constantly being put down or challenged by Mormons why I wasn’t LDS. As a small child I couldn’t at first understand why kids couldn’t play with me because I wasn’t LDS. Then when I got older guys wouldn’t date me or dance with me because I wasn’t LDS. I would get cornered by Mormons who made me defend my faith. Now that I’m older I’m thankful for this because it made me grow in my faith as a Lutheran. I’d get tired of Mormons trying to force feed their religion on me. I also got tired of not getting jobs when I was in high school and college because I wasn’t Mormon. It really put a bad taste in my mouth for the LDS religion. It also taught me to be more accepting of people. In my 20s I moved to Boise, Idaho. It was a really big change because Mormons were not the majority. The Mormons in Boise treated non-Mormons at lot better then those in Idaho Falls. It was nice to not be challenged and condemned all the time for not being Mormon. About 11 years ago I moved back to Pocatello. I was surprised to find that the ridicule I was expecting to find for not being a Mormon wasn’t as bad as it was when I was growing up. There still are those parents who don’t let their kids play with mine or who don’t talk to me in my neighborhood because I don’t go to their ward. That’s ok. It’s their loss not mine. I know I’m raising my girls to be Christian loving, non-judgmental caring kids and accepting of those who are different. God loves all with no exceptions. It’s nice to see people like yourself realising the way some LDS have treated others not of their faith. I also wanted to let you know things are getting better in Idaho and hopefully with more people like you it will continue to improve.

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  18. Over the years I’ve lived in different parts of the country, and had people occasionally ask me about my religion. Some ask, “Are Mormons Christians,” to which I’ve sometimes answered, “Well, some of them are.” This causes them to look bewildered, until I explain that the theology is DEFINITELY Christian, but the behavior sometimes isn’t. Every denomination or sect has good examples and bad examples, and unfortunately, some people don’t have the self-awareness, the functional intelligence, and/or the common sense to know how to treat people decently–PARTICULARLY IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE THEM OR SELL THEM SOME PRODUCT, SERVICE, OR IDEA. Missionary work starts with basic interpersonal awareness + common decency + concern for another’s welfare and happiness + an EXAMPLE of what’s good and what a person should be and act like. Chameleon-like behavior and phoniness can usually be easily detected by most people of average intelligence.

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  19. A someone coming back to the church after many years away, I can say that I understand your experiences. We are still all very human and sometimes we go out of our way to prove it (even family members). I can say this though, when it was time for my return, Heavenly Father led me to where I needed to be. He took me to a ward that was so accepting, so full of love, that even though I am a single man in a ward full of young families, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I found my New Jersey. I’m glad you’re moving forward. I’m on the same path Sister!

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  20. Thank you for sharing, and I agree 100% with almost all of your observations. One of our stake leaders said that we need to have more people in sacrament meetings who smell like cigarettes – that kind of acceptance and non judgemental love is what Heavenly Father and Christ have for us – and we desperately need to emulate that same love. Thanks again.

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  21. This was a great on the spot article! I live in Rexburg, ID. Very close to Pocatello. The other day I was talking with my brother while having lunch and asked if he thought the guy at the check out was a BYU-I student? He said I don’t know he has a tattoo showing and an extreme hair cut. I said, yeah but none of those things would keep you out of the temple. Good question? He’s from Arizona and those questions never come up. Why is it that things that won’t keep you out of the temple will keep you out of a church owned and run school? It make such a divide in the community. So hypocritical and the majority here is 99.9% LDS. Leaving those that are inactive or non-members with a very bad taste in their mouths and feeling very excluded and looked down upon. I’m not active. I’m a transplant from another western city, and was active all my growing up years. I’ve never felt so unwelcome in a place in my life. As an adult I married a nonmember and it was always a topic of conversation. Sometimes my children’s friends weren’t allowed to play at my house because my husband wasn’t a member. Some of the worst examples of church members were children of active families. I was singled out one time during a meeting as being so strong. The last thing I wanted was more attention brought to my situation even though I know it was meant as a compliment. My parents treated me like the black sheep, even though I had two other siblings that were definitely not living the churches right way, but had both married in the temple, one had even been on a mission. I beat myself up constantly. I finally couldn’t handle it anymore and stopped going. I was NEVER happy at church, it didn’t make me feel good, my family wasn’t happy. My good church going parents had divorced. My father had been excommunicated twice and sent to jail, for molesting a little girl and been rebaptized and given all of his temple blessings back…so many things had gone wrong that proved to me I didn’t want to be a part of such a mess. I have questions that refuse/can’t be answered. I’m not stupid, I graduated from seminary, graduated from BYU-I took all the religion classes. Never missed a day of church until I was 18. Don’t get me wrong. Some of the best most outstanding people I know are Mormon and I continue to be good friends to them. This article was great. Thank you.

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  22. So eloquent and we’ll said. Thank you! I wish they would ask me to give a talk on being Christ like, I’d love to incorporate most of this! !!!

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  23. Interesting that Brigham Young himself would NOT be accepted at Brigham Young University–for a variety of reasons: hair too long, facial hair, traditional tobacco affinity . . . not to mention the multiple “spouses.” Sometimes we have to delineate whether some advice or opinion is coming from the “Lord’s anointed,” or the just self-appointed. And, I don’t think a ward’s will is always necessarily the Lord’s will. Right now, the Church is bending over backwards to be sufficiently politically correct on things like “race,” but these are recent stances and efforts. Some people get tired of trying to keep up with the apparently shifting stances and positions, and simply bail rather than try to sort it all out. Speaking of sorting, I think it will all be sorted out on judgment day, and I don’t see any mortals around who are sufficiently equipped to make all those assessments correctly here on planet Earth in mortality. Lots of work yet for EVERYONE to do.

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