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By Keith Mannes

A church-guy in our town is flying a flag which depicts Donald Trump as Rambo. Seriously! It is an airbrushed cartoon, with Donald Trump’s head attached to the body of Rambo, with a rocket launcher in his hands. This is an elaborate fantasy — on oh-so-many levels.

How did that church-guy get to the place in his mind where he would relish a fantasy like that? Figuratively, Trump is launching rockets every day. Meanwhile, one of his main bases of support comes from Christians. Why do the 81% so easily dismiss, minimize, and side-step the many evils of this man? Why do they attend Trump’s bombastic rallies? How did the Rambo-Trump flag-flyer, and the church with him, get so mean?

Maybe he grew up like me. I was born and raised in the Christian Reformed Church. There is much to be thankful for in that. There was also some weird circuitry in the motherboard of our theology.

We had weird circuitry, for example, with King David. David was, as every preacher always glowingly pointed out, a man after God’s own heart. David, the gentle shepherd, sang worship songs with his Old Testament guitar. Then he killed lions with his bare hands. David also worshiped while dancing nearly naked, because he loved God so much. Then killed 200 Philistines and cut off their foreskins so that he could buy a wife. Somehow sermons about David always ended up talking about Jesus, and how David was a forerunner of Christ.

We loved Moses, because he had a speech impediment and had to overcome his own insecurities. He had to find courage, and the first sign of his emerging sense of justice was when he killed an Egyptian slave-driver. Later, Moses waved God’s staff and the Egyptian army was drowned in the Red Sea. I loved that – how the walls of water saved our people, and then the walls collapsed to kill our enemies.

We wandered in the desert for forty years. All kinds of suffering and sin happened to us. Like in Numbers 25 when those pagan Moabite women tempted our guys, and it was a sex-fest out there. Then Phineas the righteous hero stopped the plague by killing two people with his spear.

Oh — and Samson, and all those Philistines he killed with the jawbone of a donkey. At the moment of his repentance, he humbled himself before God and sacrificed his life and in the process killed thousands of pagan sinners. And then we talked about Jesus and grace.

You see where I’m going with these very quick examples: the weird circuitry says that God’s heroes stopped sin by slaughtering God’s enemies. Maybe you also noticed what I did there: The Egyptians and the Moabites were the enemies of “our people.” That’s what was preached.

With the slip of a few words, images, and brain synapses, we imaged ourselves, fervently, as ancient Israelites. So, when Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, that was us, marching around the city and killing every man, woman, child, and animal. When Jael pounded a tent peg into Sisera’s brain, that was our gutsy act of faith.

That’s how we get to the place where a devout, church-going, Bible-reading, prayer-offering, Jesus-talking man imagines the work of God is best done with Rambo-Trump as president. A flat, unnuanced, literal reading of the Bible tells him so. This is why Donald Trump was so quickly and easily embraced by Christians. People say, “Oh, I don’t like how Trump talks, and I know he’s an awful person, but he sure does good things.” These people would vote for Samson for president.

We desperately need to rewire the motherboard with Jesus. The era of Moses, Jael, David, and Samson is over. Those people have been replaced and surpassed by Jesus, the Good Samaritan of the world, who stoops down to tend the wounds of the weak and who carries them to safety. It is Jesus who stands in defense of a sinful woman about to be executed under Mosaic Law. It is Jesus who taught that anyone who speaks with cruelty to another person is in danger of the fires of hell. Jesus says love your enemies and pray for them.

In a nation where gun sales are at record highs and people are digging up the shrink-wrapped weaponry in their backyards because they have been stoked into frenzy by Trump’s racial fury, we do well to remember Jesus speaking, as if calming the waves of the sea, to the wild-eyed, sword-brandishing disciple in Gethsemane, saying, “Put your sword back in its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 27:52) Jesus said he could call down armies of angels if he needed or wanted armies to accomplish his mission. He rejected the idea that he was leading an earthly rebellion: “My Kingdom is not from this world.” (John 18:36). In contrast to Samson, when Jesus humbled himself and laid down his life, he saved sinners.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world” (II Corinthians 10:4). Rambo-Trump, selling a racist, hate-filled, dominant, violent Christianity, has proven himself to be anti-Christ.

Abandon, then, the weird, evil, motherboard of Trumpism. Rewire and refresh your mind and soul in the life, example, and teaching of the true Lord of the Kingdom. Leave the meanness. Pray and work against it, and together let us lean into the peace and goodness of Christ.

Keith Mannes is a CRC pastor who recently left his most recent congregation. You can read more about Keith’s journey and story here.

Keith Mannes

Keith Mannes is the author of UnMediated: Simple Faith. Pure Love. Spiritual Growth without the Interference of Christianity, due out in early September, 2024 (please go to or email for more information). Keith is an ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ, expressing that ordination as a hospice chaplain.  


  • Heather Wilson says:

    Thank you for this. It’s given me a dose of perspective for my bewildered, struggling-to-not-judge soul.

  • Eddy Bailey says:

    Good read, sometimes people forget the timeframe a Biblical story was framed in and brings everything into the present time.

  • John Kleinheksel says:

    Hello Keith,
    Many of us have looked for a way to reach out to you after the Sentinel story.
    This is one way to be in touch. Thank you for the meditation and insight into how we followers of our Lord have missed the boat.
    We stay in the Old Testament ethos with its vengeful tit for tat violence; and seldom make it to the real Jesus in the New Testament.
    We’re sure you are in relationship with the Holland Classis CRC committee; but would still like some coffee time, to grow together.
    God no doubt has plans for you and your family, plans for good and not evil. Thanks for speaking out, causing “good trouble.”

  • Diana Walker says:

    All of the above.
    Thank you.

  • Jan Hoffman says:

    Your story has reached us in Florida, where we’re having Courageous Conversations in our church. This, and your personal witness, adds another level. Thank you. Peace to you and your family.

  • Lou Roossien says:

    Keith, I just finished reading this RJ essay and the Sentinel story. Thank you for these honest, penetrating thoughts. Your struggle and decision revives painful memories from my own experience of leaving a congregation back in 2002. God’s gracious, faithful presence and his Word have healed the pain, but the ache is still there, which again reminds me of my increasing dependence on his presence and providing for me and Linda. Lou

    • 30 years Christian until I dropped it . says:

      I’m 3/3 on pastors in my life in prison or dead , seems like these positions attract seriously rotten people that use there teaching and skills to manipulate people for sexual use/ tithings and power… is this a pretty common occurance? I did some local research and found in my area 65% of pastors in my local area have been removed/ jailed/suicide or killed for what they do …do we find this a normal pattern that people just don’t pick up on ? I remember my last pastor before he killed himself saying pastors struggle with right and wrong more then congregation

  • Shannon Jammal-Hollemans says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful reflection. The problem you point to is indeed the plank in the eye of the Church today—we’ve adopted a “by any means necessary” approach to achieving our purposes, which we wrongly conflate with God’s. Thank you for this call to turn back to the gospel of Jesus Christ!

  • Henry Baron says:

    Your thoughts have clarified my thoughts, which have been bubbling a long time. Thank you, Keith.
    Your example and words are much needed among us.

  • rw says:

    Thanks, for sharing your story. I spent almost 40 years in Christian schools teaching history and government, and I wonder if any of my students picked up on the Christian perspective that I thought I was presenting. I am sure most of them are Trump voters today.

    • Jessica Groen says:

      I think about Manifest Destiny and exceptionalism with a Christian’s posture of critique all the time, thanks to your classes and the teaching you brought each day. Your work mattered so much and the ripple effects are in the community you served.

  • Pam Adams says:

    Keith, You think as I think but I fear there are many Rambo-Trumpites out there. We all have read about Jesus and should be looking for someone like him not like Rambo. Keep up the good discourse.

  • Nathan Groenewold says:

    Thank you for writing this piece, Pastor Keith, particularly during these circumstances. I wonder if a big piece of our faulty theological wiring has not been primarily in a blind acceptance of violence, but a deliberate twisting of a God of communal justice (a justice which did take violent action against oppressors in the Old and the New testaments) into a God who endorses our John ‘Wayne-esque’ individualistic violence, which conveniently allowed white Christians to forcibly take land from indigenous peoples, engage in extrajudicial lynchings, and today-affirm plots against Michigan’s governor.

    While many within the Black Christian tradition have read these stories of violence as acts of liberation done by God for God’s people, many within our white Christian traditions have read them as personal endorsements for individual or government-sanctioned violence. Just one reason we need to listen to voices from the ‘margins’!

    • Jeff Carpenter says:

      Casual unscientific observation here, but why is it that every time I travel to W. Mich and scan the f.m. radio, all that seems to be playing on Christian waves is some rant on Revelation? I have to go to a public station to find anything sacred, lovely or of good report, such as Bach or Handel?

  • Sheryl Beerens says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful and well articulated post, Keith. I felt heartsick after reading the sentinel article on Sunday and have been praying that you and your family feel held in God’s love.

  • DanD says:

    It’s very interesting to me that any time Donald Trump is mentioned in this Reformed blog, that there is never anything positive reported. Perhaps it would make sense for the Teachers, Preachers & Professors to learn about some of the positives that have come as a result of the Trump presidency and then just maybe there would be some understanding as to why so many Christians vote for him. I wonder how many of those writing in the Journal would react to the ongoing criticism that he has received for the past 4-years. Not just criticism, hatred. There is a lot to not like about his past & general character however, he has been able to get legislation passed that I would think would be solidly approved by the Christian community. The Criminal Justice Reform Bill called The First Act, the Platinum Plan and the lowest recorded unemployment stats for the Black, Hispanic & Asian communities are only a couple of his accomplishments. Plus all the conservative constitutional judges that have been approved. Also our CO2 is lower than all the nations that have signed the Paris accord. I cannot vote for a Democratic administration based on their left wing policies. To not vote for Trump because you don’t like his persona is short sighted and myopic. I believe that there is a large base of Christians that will & should vote for DJT. I did!

    • MRZ says:

      the damage that trump has done to this country, democracy and Christianity far outweighs any of his so called “accomplishments”.
      you seem to think it is a good thing that he has added all these conservative judges.
      I doubt adding unqualified conservative judges who are loyal to the most corrupt president in history is a good thing.

    • MikeP says:

      And he has surrounded himself with many Christians I his cabinet Mike Pompeo , Doctor Ben Carson and VP Pence.

    • J C S says:

      Thank you Dan D for your thoughts. I concur and have expressed the same. I am saddened by the fact that neither side actually listens to the other side. Minds are made up.

    • bob karp says:

      You are obviously parroting trump’s false “accomplishments”. The list of 4 “accomplishments that you gave us, are not only misleading, but, even if they weren’t, they are a pittance to the destruction that he has caused. Who said that its a good thing to appoint conservative judges? Who gave you statistics on the pollutants? Black unemployment is low because of Obama’s policies, that he inherited. How about a decent minimum wage, that people can live on? What about the demonization of everyone that dares to speak against him. What about his enabling of the El Paso shooter, who did Trump’s bidding and went to the border to kill the ‘rapists” that were “invading us”. How about the take down of Obamacare, which 24 million people depend on for their health care? What about Trump being a president of only his base? Every other president at least attempted to unite the country. What about Trump’s taking away food stamps from 700,000 Americans, until a judge overturned it this week, with a scathing opinion about the cruelty at a time of need? Take the food away, in a country that destroys food, that can feed the whole world with the yield of our farms? But you’re O.K. with giving more tax breaks to the wealthy? What about the fact that he has NEVER paid any taxes and has used our country’s resources and services for free? What about the thousands that have gotten ill and died, because he kept misleading us about Covid-19?. What about the more than 30,000 lies that he has uttered while in office? What about the disrespect for this country’s laws and norms? I could go on until morning and still not be done. Bottom line, you are a Trump follower that parrots his words and are calling democrat’s policies left wing. Wghat is left wing to you? More taces for incomes over $400,000? Healthcare for all Americans?

      • Gracie says:

        Wish I could move your post to the top so all the Trump supporters could see truth! Debra (below), thank you as well! No wonder Christianity is on a rapid decline. We taught our children, “You will know them by their fruits”, yet now they see so many people they looked up to saying, “No. Don’t believe your lying eyes. He’s our David”. A man who said he has never asked God for forgiveness, because he hasn’t done anything wrong!
        When I think of Jesus’ anger against the money changers in the Temple, I cannot fathom how strongly Christ would condemn this charlatan. God help us.

    • Debra says:

      But we don’t have the lowest CO2. Unemployment is the highest since the Great Depression. The conservative judges are in place to roll back health care protections and privatize social security.
      I hope the scales fall from your eyes. As some of us like to say, if you think the Democrats are Socialists, wait until you meet Jesus.

    • Tim says:

      “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit.” Luke 6:43

      “ A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”
      The Boxer by Paul Simon

    • Michael Hawk says:

      Perhaps the reason these positive attributes of Trump are omitted is due to the fact that they’re not as remarkable as you think. Three years later and it turns out he’s objectively terrible, from bribes to million dollar pardoning deals. You voted for a guy that used his power as president to pardon criminals in return for money… There’s really nothing more Christian than forgiving those who don’t deserve it. You’re too far gone to see any reason and you really need to give your head a shake. You guys are so brainwashed, it’s ridiculous.

  • Jjvh says:

    Keith, your words and witness have been the balm my soul needs these days. Thank you for sharing them and for your constant pursuit of truth. It is so refreshing to hear words that echo the turbulence in my heart and mind. Please know that your testimony is needed and appreciated.

  • Dear Keith,
    I totally agree with your point. The CRC tradition of exegesis has failed to recognize that books like Judges and Samuel are heroic literature more akin to Homer’s Iliad than the Gospels of Jesus. I can recall hearing a thousand sermons that cherry pick sentimental verses from among all these bloody passages, though the Sunday School books we read to our children were blunt about the gore while they excised the sex. More troubling is that when the later redactors put their religious veneer on these epic stories they turned God into a Super War Lord (e.g. Dt 3).
    I want you to know that a lot of fellow Calvin alumni received the news of your resignation with much sympathy, admiration and respect. Most of us are really frustrated that our preachers have muzzled themselves in fear of offending the critical mass of Trumpists in the ranks of our CRC congregations. As you indicate, this problem has much deeper causes and will continue to plague the church long after Trump is replaced.

  • Paul Kortenhoven says:

    Hello Keith

    Well done! It is impossible to sow unity and neighborly love in this country (any country really) when a president and his legal and congressional colleagues sow tribalism. HIs love affair with so-called “Christian” nationalists is contrary to everything Christ taught in the few years he lived on this earth.

    After a lifetime of missions in West Africa and peace making during and after a 12 years civil war, it was obvious what Christians should do and say: love their neighbors, treat all tribes as they would treat yourself and do our best to bring unity where there was division. We had no “evangelical” right wing that idolized Christian nationalism and sought to hang onto power at all costs.

    After the war we worked to re-integrate mass murderers (former child soldiers) into their home villages. We worked, preached and taught the opposite of vengeance and macho retaliation. Former rebels were cared for and loved by strong women leaders who designed the re-integration program. Here is one simple example of success: A former child soldier who killed people and burned villages for 10 years helped my wife out of a large hole she had fallen into while taking pictures of the furniture he was making. He found a chair for her to sit on while he cleaned her wounds.

    Every village was filled with refugees who had fled the fighting and now wanted to come home. All were accepted. None were separated from their parents or siblings, none were put in cages and none were demonized as rapists and murderers. And there has been 18 years of peace in the country of Sierra Leone.

    I pray for peace in this country and thank God for Christians who lead by example like Rev. Mannes.

  • Pamela Pluger says:

    So off the the mark Keith, totally disappointed with you. I’ll pray you don’t vote for abortion. I’ve had these discussions with you, are wrong.

    • Peter says:

      Pamela, I think you are missing something here, so please hear me out: Yes, absolutely, abortion is today’s greatest tragedy and according to God’s Word it is murder! But if changing the law is supposed to stops abortion, than why is it that countries where abortions are legal, like Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, have a much lower abortion rate than countries in Latin America (Brazil, Chile) where abortions are illegal.
      We live in a time and age, where the most prevailing factor for an expectant mother to have an abortion is poverty. When 2/3 of all abortions happen because a pregnant woman (60% already have a child) cannot afford a (another) child, than we obviously live in a broken system.
      It has long been known, when prospective mothers have assurance that they and their babies will have good health care and at least enough income to meet their basic needs, the abortion rates go dramatically down.
      What our President and the Republican Party offer is to give lip service to “Pro-Baby”, but if we are serious about saving lives, than we need to stand up for good solid healthcare, decent housing, adequate minimum wage, support maternity leave, education for mothers, help for Mom and Baby to have a decent life.
      Looking at the facts out there, I sincerely believe, that voting for Biden will safe more babies than anything that Trump offers.
      The current Republican agenda has utterly failed to address root issues to stop the great abortion tragedy…. so, please, no more: “I am voting for Trump because he is Pro-Life”!

      • David says:

        Peter & Mary , no where in the bible does is say that abortion is murder. Please read Genesis 2:7 and you will see that a fetus only becomes a human and receives a soul when breath is breathed into his NOSTRILS by God. To many Christians ignore the fact that abortion is not condemned in the bible. I wish more ” Christians ” were honest about what the bible says and doesn’t say.

        • James says:

          David, you are correct. I am a chaplain, and our Jewish Rabbi said the same thing. I think Judeo-Christians need to study the Judeo portion very carefully.

      • Marilyn says:

        I have a Masters degree in Community Health Education. I couldn’t have explained it better. Thank you for explaining articulately how outlawing abortion will only increase deaths instead of saving lives.

  • Rowland Van Es, Jr. says:

    Best book on countering the violence in OT is Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood. He says the greatest heresy we commit is unquestioning obedience that justifies violence. The solution he proposes is to read the Bible as Jesus (and Paul) did, by faithfully questioning such violent texts. There are no commands to kill others in the NT. When Jesus quoted OT in LK 4 he left out the day of vengeance. Paul did the same, leaving out many violent texts. Love is the fulfillment of the law and any interpretation that does not lead to love in practice (even love of enemies) is an incorrect reading. Period. Why are Christians so Mean? Because they are misreading and misusing the bible to justify their own views. Jesus was non-violent and loved enemies.

    • Marilyn says:

      I agree.
      God is Love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. I John 4:16
      Jesus asked only two things of us before He went to the cross. 1. Love God above all else. 2. Love one another as Jesus loves us.
      Jesus loves us with love, compassion, forgiveness, and grace.

  • John DeJonge says:

    My conscience compels me to speak. Can membership in God’s Kingdom put us “above” politics? I wonder if God’s Kingdom includes, people on the “right,” and people on the “left?” The “world” backs us into a corner, and forces us to choose. I wonder if a Christian can live with “both/and” instead of being forced into an “either/or?”

    “O, Let me ne’re forget. God is the ruler, yet.” (This Is My Father’s World)


  • Jane brown says:

    In midst of reasoned reflections, I hope we also will put some qualifying adjectives in front of nouns we use- ie Why not entitle article “Why are some Christians mean?”’
    “Some, few” are good words to help us not put all types of groups we name each day into camps –

  • Steven Dracht says:

    Excellent insight, Pastor Kieth! It’s incredible that we’ve had the Bible as long as we have and have managed to miss the point, or the overarching theme of God moving people from fear, hatred, and exclusivity toward peace, love, and inclusivity. It’s no more apparent than in the story of Abraham and Isaac on which I’ve heard countless sermons telling it as an example of the faith we are supposed to have where a true believer is willing to unquestionably commit violence. How messed up is that? But it’s exactly why we have Rambo-Trump as popular as he is. Only when the story (and all other Old Testament stories) gets retold In all churches as a story of God telling people at that time who were routinely sacrificing their children that there was no sacrifice necessary to appease him or earn his love will we be able to see Jesus. God bless you, Pastor Kieth. No matte what your title or occupation is, you’ve always been and will always be a gifted spiritual teacher who’s impact will live eternally.

  • Roger D. VanderTuuk says:

    Labeling the majority of Christians,specifically conservative Christians, as “mean”? Christians as a whole are the most compassionate people on earth and their infinite number of acts of love and charity prove it. I am 67 years old and have been a member of conservative CRC churches my entire life and have never heard even one pastor preach meanness and hatred, nor have I ever known even one sincere Christian practice those things. Somehow the author has created the fallacy that Christians of today are emulating the violence and violent acts of people in the Old Testament. That is not only an astounding leap of logic, it is totally and completely unfounded. In my long life I have never known anyone who has a “Samson complex” or who in any way identifies with the violent side of Biblical characters or who has used their actions to justify violent acts of their own. I can certainly understand why many people dislike Donald Trump. He is a man with character flaws as we all are. I can understand why many people disagree with his tone and his policies and his goals. But he is also a fellow human being, a child of God, and it should be imperative that Christians remember that.Labeling him as “evil” and the “anti Christ” and using the slur “Trumpism” should be condemned no matter what anyone’s political views are.

    • Bonnie Schmidt says:

      This is a thoughtful summary. Trump is a Christian in the works as we all are. He is forgiven,but not perfect. The writer of this journal article has judged him severely. Where is his judgment of Biden/Harris or even his own self? He is very puffed up with his own righteousness. The comparison of old testament stories
      to modern Christians being mean is somewhat silly. This is a human condition, not a Christian one. Remember, God places all leaders for their time and His will.

    • Marilyn says:

      Roger, I agree with you that a follower of Jesus should not judge another person. Not one of us is worthy of God’s Grace. I grew up attending Christian churches, and many from those churches were some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever known. I’m very sure there were people registered as Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all worshiping together in these churches. A true follower of Jesus tries to follow the examples of Jesus and the two commandments He gave us: 1. Love God above all else. 2. Love one another as Jesus loves us. Of course, we all falter and fail everyday, but these two commandments should guide our lives.
      But, I also feel it is important to point out that the President of the United States, and leader of the free world, did in fact, tweet vile, hate-filled messages many times everyday. I read thousands of them for years. I also read the kind of comments generated by those tweets. Just to recount two: 1) “Every Democrat, man, woman, and child, needs to be killed!” 2). “All Democrats are vile, Satanic, devil worshipers that we must cleanse from the earth.”
      These are just two of the thousands of comments like this that were answers to President Trump’s tweets. The President liked many such comments. I, myself, never saw one answer from the President condemning such comments.
      Many trolls, both Republican and Democrat tweeted and posted horrible, hateful, things, equally. But, when the President of the United States condones such speech, it is of profoundly greater consequence!
      Even knowing this, as true Christians, we must still find love in our hearts for all people!
      However, I do feel it is imperative that we remember that “anybody” who is purposely instilling hatred in others instead of love, is not a proponent of Jesus Christ.

  • Dee says:

    I just read of your story and courageous decision and my heart felt so moved by your true Christian sacrifice, I felt compelled to reach out to support you spiritually. I personally know how hard that decision can be (walking away from worldly comforts, financial security) and I’m thankful that there are Christians like you who are out there walking the talk, so we are not alone. Most importantly, I hope you now know that you are not alone, this is as His Word prophesied, it is the time of Matthew 13:24-30. This is the greatest act you could do as a pastor. May God bless you for your faith and testimony, sharing the truth of His Word in action.

  • A. Nonymous says:

    I came to this blog from a link in an L.A. Times article. The descriptions Christians in Michigan makes me wonder if people there ever left the 1840s. I’m also struck by the comments in this blog at the childlike acceptance of Bible stories. For anyone listening, a different way of living is possible, you don’t need to live in fear of the apocalypse or devils or spirits watching your every move. While you argue over interpretations of a book there are serious problems to address and marvelous freedoms to enjoy. You don’t have to live in fear and misery. It looks like the pastor is starting to awaken to that, like the prisoner leaving Plato’s cave.

  • Phillip says:

    I followed this gentleman’s story from his heartfelt reasons regarding his resignation to this interesting essay. I add only that we agnostics and atheists were telling everyone we knew about Trump since before he was first elected. We don’t own sense and reason and demonstrated facts, but we do insist they are part of the foundation of reason and debate.
    That’s also why I mention–encourage, even–that people capable of writing reasoned essays such as this ought to ask a few more questions about this book they take on faith. If the god of the Torah, or Old Testament, told such stories about wanton slaughter of his enemies then does a 180 degree turn to the parables of Jesus the Christ…well, questions are begged. There are some really great ideas credited to this historical character (that we also find across other cultures and eras) which do make any society quite a bit more peaceful and respectful…without all the magic borrowed from other mythologies and attributed to this specific character. Do what makes you happy in your place of worship on your appointed special day and time. (Never mind the fact that we are more segregated those few hours each week we devote to our supernatural being’s worship than any other time of the week.) But let’s leave magic and superstition and wishful thinking out of running this or any other nation and get on with what science, math and rational reasoning have to offer us with regards to crushing a pandemic or procreating with respect to all possible parties involved.

    • A. Nonymous says:

      You are too kind. We see our republic crumbling before us because people continue to choose supernatural, mystic, and magical thinking over the reason and science necessary to maintain a functional society. Look no further than Afghanistan and Iran for your American future if good people continue to choose faith over reason.

  • Donald Moore says:

    Thank you for such a welcome revelation. My feelings exactly from a Catholic. DanD needs to review the facts and not the lies. Lies, yes one of the 10 Commandments, at last count Trump has lied close to 11,000. times( yes ELEVEN THOUSAND), for starters. Since his election the division in the USA is the greatest I can remember in my 71 years. What ever happened to BI-PARTISAN politics, the Republican Party I had known until the Tea Party, Gang of 8, etc. emerged and Trump was elected. How vindictive a person he is. Enough said. God Bless you and the USA. From a family of “suckers and losers” that some have died from combat!! Don M, in Ohio.

  • Todd says:

    Unfortunately, the democratic party has shut God completely out. In fact, they want nothing to do with him. My vote for Trump is less a vote for the man and more of a vote for his policies and one against democratic policies. Voting primarily based on a candidate’s personality is misguided. The president is not a national pastor. I’m often confronted with Trump’s personality and sordid past by democrats when I say I’m a Christian voting for Trump but I didn’t know being without sin is a prerequisite for becoming POTUS. We are all sinners…. so we ought not go there. Democrats champion abortion, promote same sex relationships and gender fluidity. Their stance on taxes, border security, and healthcare, are all things I oppose. Therefore, I cannot vote for Joe Biden.

    • Oliska says:

      There is a difference between being a sinner saved by God’s grace, and therefore having a softened heart and compulsion to be the kingdom of heaven on earth – a healer of the world. (Perhaps healing through mentoring youth, or serving those who lack access to dental care). Ask any secular person and you’ll learn that Christianity is seen as a religion of hate. It really is. I have great concern for my country, but I have even deeper concern for the church.
      May the courage of the early Christians teach us to laugh at fear, to starve at greed, and to live with the winsome freedom of the sparrows. Amen

    • Marilyn says:

      Hi Todd, I have been a Christian for 33 years, and a Democrat for all my life, I suppose, as my parents were Democrats. My mother was the best person, and true Christian, that I’ve ever known. In my entire life, I never heard her say a negative word about another person. Everyone who knew her said the same. She taught the Young Peoples Class at our little country church for 42 years! Many of my family members, relatives, and friends, are Christians! We have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior! We are also Democrats. A person’s political party has NOTHING to do with each person’s personal relationship with Jesus. My beliefs do not perfectly align with any political party. But, I have found most of the time, the Democratic candidate has more qualities I agree with, like “Love everybody, and don’t judge anybody, because not one of us is worthy of God’s Grace and forgiveness.” There are over 300 rules, commandments, etc. in the Old Testament. Most people break at least 30 of them every week. I don’t believe it’s right to pick out one or two to justify judging, or condemning the actions of other people that God loves just as much as He loves anyone else. All people are precious to God! Yes, gay people, immigrants, people of all types, colors, and backgrounds are precious and loved by God!
      For some reason, some people, want to pick out one line in a Bible verse and use it for an excuse to condemn another person. The trouble with that is there are many other sins mentioned in the same verses. It’s funny how these other “sins” are conveniently overlooked. For example, fornicating, masturbating, looking with lust at a woman, oral sex, and other sexual acts are listed in same verses as men having sex with men. Where is the outrage at fornacators, or masturbaters? What is being pointed out to us in the Old Testament is that we have all been guilty of sin of all kinds, including sexual sin. Our pastor taught on this three Sundays ago. We can certainly understand why God commands us to not judge each other, and constantly reminds us that only He, God, is qualified to judge others’ sins! The best we can do is to try with all our hearts to follow Jesus’s teachings, do our best not to sin, and be sure not to condemn, badmouth, slander, or judge another person. Jesus gave us a job: “ Love One Another”, or said another way, “ Love Our Neighbors as Ourselves”.
      I truly hope you have a wonderful day, and know that I respect your right to your personal beliefs. I commented only to have a conversation with you.


    I gained much from your article and responses. Many years ago, my brother forced me to go to church. It wasn’t a great experience, but, I learned much of the teachings of Christ. Your references to old testament stories are true. I didn’t find much love and compassion in them. As to Jesus, I often quote him or about him. Like Keith Mannes, I find support by Christians for Trump sad. Trump is no one I’d assume is faithful to any religion or any country. He is religious about himself and pretends to care for others. And he is a poor pretender. It is so sad that fellow Christians are so supportive of someone that is closer to the Devil than Jesus.

    Trump is not compassionate, not is he godly, nor is he honest, nor does he try to make a better world. He divides the country to be elected. A some Christian churches love him even though he is divisive and sometimes vial. Those churches are complicit.

    It is a sad day in America are so wrong about a leader.

    • Man says:

      The division is the belief that spirit and matter are separate, that they are divided. They are not. Yes, this means that there is no gaseous vertebrate found elsewhere who will “save” you. That is what a two year old thinks. No christian is persecuted for their beliefs, they persecute their own selves by attaching to their beliefs. It is their attachment that makes them feel threatened. They attach out of ignorance.
      Any wise person would say the same.

  • Chad says:

    Hello Pastor Keith,

    Thank you for your courage. I am a Christian living in California, where it is a lot easier to dislike the president. But you are not alone. There are many, many Christians who do not understand the support for this man. But I would challenge you not to give up on God’s calling on your life. Start another church and watch what God can do!

  • Melissa says:

    I so commend your courage to speak out about all of this. I know it has cost you so much. Here in Texas I read about your story and then saw this article. Thank you for putting words to what I’ve been so dismayed with and confused by. I’ve only been a Christian for about 7 years so I’m fairly new at this. 🙂 But I’ve watched many Christians excuse evil words and actions that are so blatant and unmistakable and against everything Jesus instructed us to say and do. Every time I try to wrap my head around it, I simply can’t. If we are true Christians, there should be no political party we should fully ascribe to. They are all broken. And by putting all our faith and energy and loyalty to any of them we fall away from Jesus and his will. I just did an amazing Bible study about Jude from Jackie Hill Perry all about how we should stay away from false teachers. It’s such a timely study. Bless you. May God lead you to your next steps.

    • Marilyn says:

      I enjoyed reading your reply! I agree wholeheartedly! When we actually follow Jesus Christ, there is nothing better! 🙏🏼💚

  • Einar Augusto Elsner says:

    Thank you for speaking out. I was baptized in 2017 at the ripe age of 57 in a Southern Baptist church by a pastor I love, but who I fear has been infected with Trumpism. Your analysis of Trump Christians is spot on. As the Evangelical support for Trump grew, I left the church and I don’t believe I will ever go back. I loved the hymns and the sermons, but was gradually turned off by the emphasis on salvation through belief rather than on doing good, regardless of belief. From where I stand, the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) sums up Jesus’ teachings beautifully. It is not belief that matters most. It is doing good. May your courage be rewarded with freedom.

  • R.E.Matthews says:

    Rev Mannes,
    Thank you for your courage. I have wondered why many other ministers have not done as you have done — “cry loud and spare not, willing to point out sin when they see it,” and been willing to do the hard right instead of the easy wrong. As a minister of the gospel and government executive I am truly conflicted about what I say and when I say it but I agree with your assessment. God has a blessing with your name on it because of your faithfulness. The story of the Good Samaritan is appropriate for us to reconsider. The Samaritan didn’t ask if the man in need was a Democrat or a Republican — he was a person in need and he helped. We as nation must get beyond race, color, and politics and remember that we all bleed red blood — and we are our brothers and sisters keeper. “We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish as fools.” God bless all of the writers who have commented and even in your comments let love be your motivation for what you say and do.

  • Bob Frog says:

    This meanness amongst so called Christians is nothing new. I grew up in Missouri and attended 8 years of Catholic school from the late 70s to mid 80s. I was an altar boy, Boy Scout and all around true believer. We didn’t learn too much about the Old Testament outside of the Ten Commandments but focused more on Jesus and His teachings like the ones mentioned in this editorial. As a young kid living in the American Midwest I truly felt I was the only one who believed the stuff we were taught. Then in the early 90s my father became a zealot of Rush Limbaugh who preached a doctrine of kicking down instead of punching up, a doctrine that embraced war while mocking the peacemakers, a doctrine that mocked the way black folks talked, a doctrine that embraced slander and deliberate misrepresentation of the opposition party. Then along came a Fox and there is little wonder in my mind why we are where we are now.

  • Mark Shoup says:

    Your story was in the print edition, first section, of the Los Angeles Times this Sunday morning. Thank you for your courage in speaking out. Abiding in Christianity is difficult because of what has happened to the politics of the so-called faithful. Is there hope that Christianity in America can return to the real teaching of Jesus?

  • RH says:

    I have been reading and watching posts pertaining to how Christians need to vote.
    I attended Christian Schools here in West Michigan and vividly remember our Civics teacher stating that as Christians we are required to vote for Republicans always. It is never acceptable under any circumstance to vote Democrat. Voting Democrat would surely shun us from the Christian Reformed Church if found out. Basically we were told that God is Republican.
    I had never really questioned this until this election. Now so many questions arise about how God would really want me to vote in this election.
    I see billboards and lawn signs condemning all who vote Democrat that they are murderers in our area. I see the Democratic signs that stress Black Lives Matter. I see much conflict between the two parties.
    I see many many lies or mistruths from Trump. All twisted in such a way that Biden looks like the son of Satan. I watch Biden a lot. He is more of a Christian than Trump has even slightly shown. Does this mean Trump is not a Christian? We are not to judge but to pray for him. With God all things are possible. I still do not feel he is fit to hold the office of Presidency however.
    I struggled with the thought of abortion. In my opinion I get the feeling that maybe God is trying to tell us something different. Maybe he is saying to not put our trust and power into the Republican’s hands to abolish abortion. Maybe He is trying to open our eyes that there may be another way we need to approach the issue. Maybe He is trying to tell us to TRUST Him. Our Lord is powerful and just.
    I obviously do not have the answers but our Lord certainly does. We need to listen… He is talking loudly!

  • Gail Penner says:

    Much of the article is good. Where it really falls is the claim that the New Testament ushered in a kinder, gentler era. That is not true. That was when hell entered the religion. After that, instead of dying violently, people would be tortured in perpetuity even for minor infractions. The fact that there is no end to the torture makes it infinitely worse than the Old Testament.

  • mark says:

    Thanks for this heartfelt perspective. I am sure expressing your awakening came at great cost. I have so much respect for you, in enduring that loss. I have always had trouble with the Jewish Holidays that seem to celebrate God smiting our enemies. That is not the God, nor the approach that Jesus spoke of, as you well document. Jesus set the model for embracing the lesser and poorly regarded in society. He sat with the tax collector and the prostitutes. He asked us not to judge others.

  • MAK says:

    Thank you for this.
    I am not a Republican or a Democrat, and not a religious person but a spiritual one. I grew up in West Michigan and appreciate the frugality of it but definitely never completely fit in. I cannot imagine how painful your decision was, yet how much relief you felt to honor your heart.

    I do not have a strong position on abortion either way-because both sides have excellent points. On the one hand, I do think it is atrocious and liken it to murder. On the other hand, our society is so unjust that a woman’s pregnancy can result in violence towards her from a domestic abuser. Where is the concern for her life? I really don’t know. While I lean toward no abortion, I have compassion for the argument that men don’t experience the consequences of a pregnancy yet have the audacity to judge what’s best. However, I’m completely baffled at how this is the prevailing reason people choose to vote Republican at all costs. It’s as if there is one “sin” that carries the heaviest weight of them all and that all other sins of a system that literally result in murder (guns, racism, immigration policies, lack of environmental protections) can be “Trumped” by those. Where is the math in this, Evangelicals?

    I’m also aghast that there is advice to ignore a leader’s character. What? Why, why, why would a liar be trusted to honor your coveted policies and beliefs as soon as it didn’t benefit him? Character is the single most important differentiator of a leader. I’m floored at any suggestion otherwise. As for this last four years, the only man of character of the lot I could see was Mitt Romney-and I don’t align with him politically.

    It’s time for courage in defense of character. Not 2nd amendment courage (another math puzzle I don’t understand-let’s allow countless numbers to die so we can be armed in fear of one potential situation where the police might rule us that hasn’t happened here?).

    And as to the courage of this author-thank you. You warm my heart. Your BLM pictures bring me to tears.
    You may not agree with my views or loose spirituality/middle of the road (though clearly empathetic to the left right now) but I take comfort in your courage. It brings me to tears. If there is anything I can do to support you in love, please post it in response. God is with you, whatever you believe that is. And God is with me and the lost boys and girls. God is with Trump, should he ever choose to reflect inward and find the source of eternal wisdom, grace, and forgiveness. I don’t see it happening but miracles can happen when humans trust their God with peace, not fear, and reflect goodness back to each other. That is the light and it is true and divine power. IMO and experience.

    Love to you.

    • Marilyn says:

      I think you sound like a true Christian! There’s nothing better than having Jesus as your personal Savior! 🧡

  • Joann says:

    I wish all Christians were exactly like you. I oppose Trump, too, and was very excited and happy when Joe Biden was elected President of the United States in 2020. Joe Biden woke me up out of a slump and offered me some hope for the future. I can now look forward to a better America and a better world. I’ve had my share of dealing with mean Christians who support Trump, too. In fact, I still have a friend who is Christian who supports Trump and hates democracy who sometimes tries to convince me that Trump was somehow better. She isn’t mean in any way, but I have this pretty sneaky feeling that if I were still a Christian and attending church today, or back between the years 2016 and 2020 when Trump was campaigning for President, my church would be up there at the pulpit trying to convince me to get out there and vote for Trump. And if I said no and tried telling them why I don’t like Trump, I’d be shut down and shut up in an instant. No one would want to listen to what I have to say. And I’d probably be called a sinner, too, and shunned for my support of Joe Biden, Hilary Clinton, and the Democratic Party. It’s the fact that I always felt shut out and never understood or taken very seriously that I decided to leave the church and eventually denounce the Christian faith. I just couldn’t take it any more, and I am never going back, either.

    • Marilyn says:

      I certainly understand why you feel the way you do! I hope, however, that you continue to walk in Jesus’s love! People will let you down, but Jesus will not! 💚

  • Raymond says:

    Wow, Brother, I read your story and I thank the Lord for you for having the courage to go with your convictions. I left my church because of the same issues…but my decision was nowhere near as life changing as yours. As a 68-year-old believer who “got saved” 40 plus years ago, I have never seen “the church” in such an awful state. Such meanness, defiance and fear. Grappling to get control of “their country back. News flash to them…this is not your country and neither is any other as our hope is in heaven. I know it is long after you wrote this, but I am praying for the Lord’s care and provision for you and your family. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

  • Man says:

    the parting of the red sea is a mythological story. it is a reference to the esoteric, going into the unseen, parting the opposites, walking through the journey or trek, then emerging into the seen world above the waterline again. ever heard of an achilles heel? it’s the mark left on us, our psyche, as we emerge, transformed.
    but again, like everything christian, they think a bearded carpenter is there to save them, stories to keep the armies full of soldiers and the tithing baskets full of money and “everyone who isn’t a christian or a republican is an enemy” theme of ignorance and arrogance and violence.

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