Small towns are depicted as bucolic, inviting and relaxed. Depictions can be deceiving. Perhaps it's the very slow-paced existence that drives some people to turn on a leader, religious or otherwise. The result is ugly and divisive and never the cleansing purge that the "righteous" intended. It is mean-spirited and under-handed.
The basis of the witch hunt is always some perceived transgression. It could be a simple as an "inappropriate" wardrobe choice, a careless comment or an innocent action, misinterpreted. The "chosen" is watched and every small mistake recorded in memory to be pulled out at meetings and amplified for effect. The "evidence" mounts. It isn't enough to have an apology or promise to leave a position. There has to be symbolic "blood", a humiliation, a degradation.
The group works itself to a fever-pitch and dissenting participants or the unfortunate leader are blocked, physically from leaving the meeting. It isn't enough that to lose one's job, he must hear the hysterical accusations and vitriol. When no dignity remains for the leader, he is allowed to leave.
I repeat. It's ugly, human nature at its lowest and reminiscent of the pecking that occurs among poultry, where sharp beaks render damage and drive away or kill a weaker fowl. Nice.
Yes, I'm of a certain age but I'm pretty spry and like to think still smart enough.