A pastor from the US state of Michigan has resigned his ministry position after his congregation declared their unwavering support for President Trump.
Keith Mannes of Christian Reformed Church, Holland, said he felt compelled to leave behind his 30-year ministry career after sensing that the church had "abandoned its role" of being the "convenience of the state".
The pastor said the church's inability to remain impartial had been "really disturbing" and "troubling enough that I need to lay it all down".
"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 told the Detroit Free Press. "That just hit me hard because I think, broadly, the white evangelical community in our country has abandoned that role."
Mannes admitted that he had been a long-time critic of Donald Trump.
"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 explained. "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."
After becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Christian support for the President, Mannes said that he began to show his emotions on the issue while preaching, which made some parishioners feel uncomfortable. "What it was really doing was tearing me up," he said.
Mannes realised that the inner turmoil he felt through holding such contrasting views from those of his congregation had to be shared with the church elders. A meeting was called and, through tears and heartache, it was decided that he would depart from his ministry position at the church.
"We got down on our knees, many of us wept. It was a really hard decision," Mannes said. "It was time for me to lovingly and with great peace and loss separate from the church. It was really crushing because I've given my life to the church, and thankfully so."
In response to this resignation, Christian Reformed Church, where Mannes served for the past four years, expressed its "heartfelt thanks to Pastor Keith and Alicia for the blessings of being in ministry together for the past 4 years".
"Their hearts have pointed us to Jesus in so many ways,” they added. "We are greatly thankful for their faithful service to us, and we pray that the Lord would bless them and keep them in all that He has planned for their future.”
Less than two weeks out from the election, it is clear that Trump still retains strong support among the evangelical community, though polling indicates that it might be dipping slightly. A Pew Research poll published last week shows that 78 per cent of white evangelical Protestants said they would vote or are leaning towards voting for Trump, which is down from 83 per cent in August.
The number of white non-evangelical Protestants supporting Trump was at 53 per cent in the latest poll, down six percentage points since August. Similarly, support amongst white Catholics was recorded at 52 per cent, with a drop of seven percentage points.
According to Pew, White Christians comprise some 44 per cent of the registered voters in the US and are therefore a key demographic in the election.