Keith Mannes of Michigan has served as a pastor for the Christian Reformed Church for more than 30 years, but he is walking away from ministry over the political tension and divisiveness that accompanies broad evangelical support for President Donald Trump.
Mannes told The Detroit Free Press that the church as a whole has "abandoned its role" as the conscience of the state in order to throw its support behind Trump.
"There’s a quote from Martin Luther King where he said, ‘The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state,’" Mannes said. "That just hit me hard because I think, broadly, the white evangelical community in our country has abandoned that role.
"The question of the church largely and how it’s functioned in this moment has been really disturbing. That’s been troubling enough that I need to lay it all down."
Mannes said he began struggling with the notion of Trump as president “from the time he came down the escalator.”
He told the newspaper: "It’s only been building ever since. From the beginning I thought there’s something about this man and the instrument that he is for a lot of things that are just very not Jesus."
He called Trump’s photo holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Church in Washington in June, following the use of tear gas and riot control to clear protesters from the area, a "tremendous violation of something deep and holy," and said it was a key moment in his views.
“It just floors me how church-going people who read the Bible and sing the hymns can show up at a (Trump) rally and just do that deep bellow like an angry mob supporting these horrible things that come out of his heart and his mind. It just began to trouble me so much that I am a pastor in this big enterprise."
"It’s not only me, but quite a number of pastors I know are just like, ‘This is it? All this preaching we did about Jesus and there’s this big of a disconnect?’ I think that's a real burden on a lot of pastors’ hearts. I love these people, I love God, I love Jesus, I love the church, but there's something happening here."
Mannes preached his last sermon on Oct. 11, according to the report.