Michigan pastor leaves his church because the majority support Trump

HOLLAND — Keith Mannes has given his life to the Christian Reformed Church, serving as a pastor for more than 30 years. He’s done so happily and thankfully.

But on Sunday, Oct. 11, Mannes gave his last sermon and walked away from ministry among increasing political tension and divisiveness.

Put simply, he stepped away due to the CRC’s broad support of President Donald Trump.

While Mannes loves the congregation he served at East Saugatuck CRC for the past four years, he says the church as a whole has “abandoned its role” as the conscience of the state in support of Trump, leading Mannes to step away.

“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.”

A divide within the faith

Mannes is not the only Christian feeling the strain. He said he knows several other pastors who are feeling the same things.

Additionally, polls show that while white Christians still favor Trump, that support has decreased.

In a poll conducted by Pew Research Center from Sept. 30 to Oct. 5, Christian support for Trump had dipped since August.

In the poll, published Oct. 13, 78 percent of white evangelical Protestants said they would vote for or lean toward voting for Trump if the election were held that day. That’s down from 83 percent in August.

White non-evangelical Protestants supported Trump 53 percent of the time in the latest poll, while white Catholics sat at 52 percent, down 6 and 7 percentage points since August, respectively.

According to Pew, 44 percent of registered voters are white Christians, making it a key voting demographic.

Why the strain on the faithful?

George Lundskow, a sociology professor at Grand Valley State University who studies the sociology of religion, said support from the religious community is tied to how people view God.

Lundskow said that while some of the president’s actions may not align with Christian values, he has aligned himself with conservative Christians by acting similar to how they see God — judgmental and punitive.

″(His actions) don’t seem very Christian, much less conservative Christian,” Lundskow said. “I don’t think it’s about that. It’s something else about religion — whether you see God as punitive and judgmental or the loving, forgiving version of God. That definitely shapes political views as well.”

Lundskow said this divide between conservative and progressive Christians based on their view of God is a point of division within the faith in terms of political support.

The professor explained that those who see God as punitive tend to support Trump, saying they see him as strong-willed for the way he attacks opponents and “punishes” people for being poor. Lundskow added that Christians who view God as loving and forgiving tend to be more liberal and progressive, welcoming immigrants and “seeking social justice” for the poor.

Years in the making

Mannes has been feeling a disconnect between the teachings of the church and the actions of the political candidate it largely supports for years. It started when Trump announced his campaign in June 2015 while descending down an escalator at Trump Tower.

“From the time he came down the escalator,” Mannes said of when he began to feel an internal struggle. “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 said the congregation at his church has “saved (his) faith in many ways,” but what he’s seen from Christians nationally has challenged it.

That includes when white supremacists gathered for a rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 which led to three deaths and dozens of injuries, after which Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides.”

Mannes was part of a group of pastors that walked 130 miles from Charlottesville to Washington, D.C., in August, hearing the stories of people there during the 2017 events.

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.”

While some, like Mannes, may be turned off by Trump’s actions, Lundskow said many look past them because they believe Trump was sent to be a representative of God.

“If I’m somebody who sees Donald Trump as God’s chosen representative, the leader God has chosen to bring the country back to the right direction, I’m willing to overlook his personal failings,” Lundskow explained. ”(Christians think) if he’s good enough to be God’s representative, he’s good enough to be president.”

The decision to leave

As the tension in his heart and the world around him continued to grow, Mannes said his feelings began to show in his sermons, causing discomfort for some parishioners.

Trying to keep his thoughts internalized became more and more difficult as time went on.

“What it was really doing was tearing me up,” he said. “I’ve had to be very careful to not speak about these things directly with members of the church.

“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 sat down with the elders of his church in September to express the tensions he had been feeling. After a long and emotional meeting, they agreed it was time to part ways.

“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.”

Be the conscience’

Mannes says he understands many Christians will vote for Trump, and he will still love those who do, but implores them to think about what it means to be a Christian before making their choice.

“I would just implore anybody who claims Christ to just look very seriously at the core things Jesus called us to do and be,” he said. “Do some serious soul searching about who you’re serving and how you’re trying to accomplish that purpose in the world.”

He calls on his fellow Christians to be the conscience of the president, whoever it is, and force them to be better than the division that has become common.

“We’re supposed to be the conscience of the president and we have refused to do that,” Mannes said. “I don’t know that a church who believes in Jesus as we do, can abandon its conscience and not say, ‘Mr. President we’re calling you to better than that and you need to call our nation to better than that.’”

A few weeks prior to his last sermon, Mannes spoke with a member of the church, who asked him to reconsider his decision. The person asked him about his plans once he walked away, with no guarantee that the issue will even persist after Election Day.

“He said, ‘What are you going to do? What are you going to have?’” Mannes recalled. “Well, at least my conscience.”

Jamal Bryant calls out Christians who burn sage, says it’s ‘witchcraft,’ ‘satanic aromatherapy’

138278_w_760_630Jamal Bryant is New Birth Missionary Baptist Church’s senior pastor. Burning sage (inset). | Facebook/New Birth; Instagram/dirtworks_ceramics

 

Calling sage burning “witchcraft” and “satanic aromatherapy,” Pastor Jamal Bryant of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest, Georgia, warned his members on Monday to stay away from the practice.

In a teaching session with the women of his church streamed on YouTube, Bryant explained that he had to dive into some research on the practice after two members of his church gifted him sage for his new home in Atlanta.

I “was amazed because two saints gave me sage for my new house. I didn’t know what to do with it. I was unsure of it. And all the more, why they’d feel comfortable giving it to a pastor. Then I began to research and study it and found out that the sales of it have gone up by over 200% in the last four years and have to be constantly placed on restock in natural health stores.”

After researching the practice, however, Bryant has concluded that it is a demonic New Age practice that Christians shouldn’t be involved with.

“Another word for burning sage is smudging. The thought of the Native Americans is that certain herbs carry spirits in them … and when you burn certain herbs you’re calling on those spirits to dispel evil or vexing spirits or energies from a space, from an object or person. And so it is their contention that when I am burning sage, I am then calling down a spirit or calling up a spirit to then wrestle with that energy that’s in a room, that’s in a car or in a person,” Bryant argued.

“So are those who burn sage and then put it around themselves saying that they don’t want any negative energy around them or negative energy approaching them?  … It is highly practiced now by the New Age movement,” he said.

The New Age movement, which currently attracts the “largest amount of African Americans in our history,” Bryant argued, does not bring glory to the God of the Bible but seeks to make humans like gods.

“They are spiritual. They just do not believe or submit to authority … They believe through the doctrine of New Age faith or New Age theology, that mortals or humanity through the right wave of devotion and meditation can ascend themselves to become a deity. So they become their own gods,” he noted.

“So church or religion becomes a problem because it demands accountability and submission to authority for a generation who does not want to submit and has a problem with authority figures. So these same people who ascribe to New Age theology or have praying hands tattooed unto their chest will have the word ‘God’ tattooed on their neck but you can’t assume it’s the same God or that the prayers are pointed in the same direction,” the megachurch pastor said. “Gotta be careful when people believe that they are their own god.”

Bryant further argued that Christians have a hard time identifying people who see themselves as their own god because they subscribe to a limited definition of demonic possession.

“The people who believe that they are their own god, we don’t know how to approach them or even how to attack it because we have minimized demonic possession as those who are foaming around their mouth, eyes are roaming in the back of their head and they are squirming on the floor. That’s how we’ve recognized demons,” he said.

Demonic possession, he argued, can be reflected in a number of ways, including when someone cannot apologize or is unwilling to submit to the leadership and order of their church.

“A demonic possession can be someone quite frankly, who doesn’t know how to apologize. Demonic possession can be, I can take no authority for my error. ‘It was you that made me hit you.’ That’s a demon. ‘I wouldn’t have cursed you out had you not made me. Had you just given me what I asked for the first time then we wouldn’t have gone through all of this.’ That is a demonic principality and a demonic order,” Bryant said.

“The spirit of the anti-Christ is now slithering into our children and the next generation by putting a seed plot of rejection of authority and order. God is a God of order. God is a God of authority so you can see where demons show up in church,” he said. “…Satan never wants to fall in line to authority and order so people who are out of order are operating out of the spirit of satanic principalities.”

He noted that people who burn sage in their home to ward off bad energy or evil spirits to usher in more positive vibes are practicing “satanic intercession” because they are not operating under God’s authority.

“I’m practicing satanic intercession ‘cause I am invoking these spirits that are not holy, that are not sanctified to reveal themselves. To reveal themselves and I am telling weeds and grass and herbs you have authority over the spirits in my house. And nowhere in there am I calling on the name of God. Nowhere in there am I calling on the name of Jesus,” he said.

Christians who depend on burning sage to complement their faith, he argued, are devaluing the power of Christ’s anointing in their life.

“This level of witchcraft is in-depth … I’ve so questioned the strength of my anointing that I believe who comes into my presence can contaminate my spirit. How weak am I that I can’t be in the presence of somebody whose spirit is off. If I am anointed … and somebody who is not like God comes into my presence I shouldn’t be the one backing up. It should be them backing up ’cause they sense what’s on me,” he said.

“Satan is cunning because he is a deceiver. Isn’t it amazing that we’ve got throngs of our friends who will burn it, who will practice it, who will utilize it but if you talk about casting out demons they call you spooky or you’re too spiritual? They don’t want you to cast out demons but want you to push away spirits. I’m pushing them away, I’m not killing them. The role of those of us who are in the body of Christ and traffic in the supernatural is not to give Satan and his imps a restraining order, we’re supposed to give him a death sentence.”

 

Hip-Hop Star Jay-Z Claims Jesus Was Invented To Control Dumb People, While Smart People Worship Satan

Hip Hop star Jay-Z has blasted traditional Christian values in an epic rant where he claims to be part of an exclusive club of “smart people” who worships “our true lord; Satan.” The billionaire rapper has also claimed that “God created Lucifer to be the bearer of truth and light,” and that “Jesus never existed” but was merely a “tool created by smart people to control dumb people.” During a backstage tirade at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Friday, Jay-Z pointed around the room saying, “ya’ll being played.” “There ain’t no Jesus. “Ya’ll slaves to a fake religion. “Do you think I got where I am praying to a guy that don’t exist? “No. I found the guys who invented that guy and I joined the club. “Then I worked my way to the top. “I earned my new form of humanity and maturity when I fully embraced my older brother, Satan.”


The music star claims that Satanism became the “highest form of being” due to the ease of manipulating “mentally-challenged Christians” who “desire to be slaves.” He stated that “there’s real spirituality and guidance in the Church of Satan,” that rewards its followers with “wealth and success,” but “Christians have prayed to God for years and ain’t gotten nothing back, just silence and emptiness.” This, apparently, is what caused Satan to have “gotten a bad rap” from Christians who worship a “fake religion, built by assholes.” Pointing to a small crowd of backstage ticket winners, the multi-Grammy Award-winning musician said: “How many of ya’ll have gotten rich, or famous, after you prayed to God? “Come on, raise your hands?” As the young fans began to murmur nervously, Jay-Z announced: “I can answer for y’all because I am free. “I answer to a higher power. “None of you are rich and none of you are famous because no one is listening to your prayers. “I got everything I wanted because I surrendered to our true lord, Satan. “Because I recognized Jesus is the original fake news, designed to enslave humanity.” “God created Lucifer, not Jesus, so he could rule over us as Satan. “I’m telling you this because I know you guys look up to me and want to emulate me. “I will give you this one guarantee, if you start following the doctrine of Lucifer, you will taste success. “The secret of the universe opens up to you. “It is immediate and glorious.”

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Georgia City Councilman: Interracial Marriage Is Not How Christians Should Live

JimCleveland1Georgia City Councilman: Interracial Marriage Is Not How Christians Should Live (Image via City of Hoschton)

 

Bible Belt Racism: A Georgia city councilman defends his mayor’s decision to discriminate against a black man by citing his sincerely held Christian beliefs and his opposition to interracial marriage.

Recently Mayor Theresa Kenerly of Hoschton, Georgia confessed to rejecting a candidate for city administrator because he’s black. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  reports Mayor Kenerly told a member of the City Council she pulled the resume of Keith Henry from a packet of four finalists “because he is black, and the city isn’t ready for this.”

The fact that Mayor Kenerly rejected a job applicant because he is black is simply despicable. And to their credit, several city council members spoke out against the blatant racism. But some on the city council defended the mayor’s open racism.

For example, Hoschton City Councilman Jim Cleveland defended Mayor Kenerly, saying “she might have been right” to discriminate against the black applicant. Cleveland said:

I don’t know how they would take it if we selected a black administrator. She might have been right.

Councilman Cleveland then went on to explain that he is a Christian, and as a Christian, he has a problem with “race mixing.” Cleveland said:

I’m a Christian and my Christian beliefs are you don’t do interracial marriage. That’s the way I was brought up and that’s the way I believe.

Cleveland added:

I have black friends, I hired black people. But when it comes to all this stuff you see on TV, when you see blacks and whites together, it makes my blood boil because that’s just not the way a Christian is supposed to live.

Cleveland’s position is deplorable, but not surprising. Many conservative Christians are racist. One need only look at the overwhelming support Trump currently enjoys from conservative Christians to understand the deep racism that continues to flourish in white conservative Christian communities.

The only difference is that most conservative Christians are not as open with their racism as  Councilman Cleveland.

Bottom line: While defending Mayor Theresa Kenerly after she refused to consider a job applicant because he was black, Hoschton City Councilman Jim Cleveland declares that he’s “a Christian,” and that seeing “blacks and whites together” makes his “blood boil” because “that’s just not the way a Christian is supposed to live.”

Can you feel the Christian love?

 

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Dems to strike ‘so help you God’ from oath taken in front of key House committee, draft shows

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A key committee in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is moving to eliminate the God reference from the oath administered to witnesses testifying before the panel, as part of a new rules package expected to be approved this week, according to a draft obtained exclusively by Fox News.

The draft shows that the House Committee on Natural Resources would ask witnesses to recite only, “Do you solemnly swear or affirm, under penalty of law, that the testimony that you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”

The rules proposal places the words “so help you God” in red brackets, indicating they are slated to be cut. The words “under penalty of law” are in red text, indicating that Democrats propose to add that phrasing to the oath.

The draft rules also remove the phrase “his or her” throughout the document, changing those two pronouns to “their.” The rules additionally modify all references to the committee’s “Chairman” to instead refer only to the committee’s “Chair.”

Other rules changes relate to expanding the committee’s authority over natural gas in Alaska and fossil-fuel resources.

While many federal oaths include the phrase “so help me God,” some — most notably the presidential oath of office — do not.

The full committee is set to vote on the new language this week, and the rules would take effect immediately if adopted. Other committees were still in the process of finalizing their rules on Monday.

“They really have become the party of Karl Marx.”

— House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney

Republican leaders reacted with dismay to the proposed change, and suggested it was a sign of the Democratic Party’s leftward shift.

FAR-LEFT FRESHMAN DEMOCRATIC REP. RASHIDA TLAIB ACCUSED OF ANTI-SEMITIC SLUR

“It is incredible, but not surprising, that the Democrats would try to remove God from committee proceedings in one of their first acts in the majority,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., told Fox News. “They really have become the party of Karl Marx.”

Spokespeople for the Natural Resources Committee did not immediately reply to Fox News’ requests for comment. The committee, which has oversight of national parks, wildlife and energy, is chaired by Democratic Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva.

The proposed change was not the first time Democrats have sought to strike references to God in official party documents. In 2012, the floor of the Democratic National Convention erupted over a sudden move to restore to the platform a reference to God and recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — after heavy criticism from Republicans for initially omitting them. Democrats, though, were hardly in agreement over the reversal.

A large and loud group of delegates shouted “no” as the convention chairman (then-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) called for the vote. Villaraigosa had to call for the vote three times before ruling that the “ayes” had it. Many in the crowd booed after he determined the language would be restored.

b91bad30-800-1Hard-left Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar is facing backlash and accusations of homophobia after repeating baseless allegations pushed by MSNBC and liberal activists that South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is being blackmailed into supporting President Trump. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

 

The battle marked the biggest platform fight in either party’s convention, and signaled Democrats were worried the prior language could have been politically damaging in a tight election year.

A senior campaign official told Fox News at the time that then-President Barack Obama personally intervened to change the language in both cases. On the God reference, the official said the president’s response was, “Why did it change in the first place?”

The House panel’s proposed change comes as far-left progressive Democratic freshman in Congress, including Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota Ilhan Omar, have come under fire from Republicans for pushing what they call radical and unfounded religious-based attacks.

Omar, for example, wrote in 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Tlaib was accused of engaging in an anti-Semitic slur earlier this month by suggesting Republican politicians were truly loyal to Israel, not the United States.

Omar and Tlaib made history by becoming the first-ever Muslim women in Congress.

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