Annika Mongan makes a wonderful point in her blog post of March 28, 2014 - namely, that public scandals in Christian communities have a particularly demoralizing impact on their members, because Conversion promised them that Faith and the Holy Spirit would make them spiritually healthier than the rest of the world. I agree, but I don't think that Christians have a corner on those feelings. The same expectations, just expressed in different words, have applied to every spiritual community I have ever joined.
In high school, I was an acolyte and president of my church's Methodist Youth Fellowship. It was hard for me to understand why my father, who was active on the Board of Trustees, suddenly decided after 8 loyal years to take our family out of the church due to social friction with other Board members and political disagreements with the new Ministerial staff. I had been taught that we were all members of the Body of Christ, and that we prized agape - divine brotherly love - above all else. Why was my Dad so out of touch with what our Youth Ministers had been teaching me every week? Could there be other realities, separate from the rosy picture that had been painted for me in Sunday School?
It was 20 years before my wife and I were ready to join another spiritual community, and this time we chose a New Thought Church - one of those Course in Miracles, Science of Mind-ey sorts of places. Far less hierarchical and more New Agey than traditional Christianity, everyone there was kookie and sweet and accepting of differences. Surely, this time we had found the community that would live up to its stated Spiritual principles.