On February 10th, MidAmerica Nazarene University’s (MNU) chaplain Randy Beckum gave his morning sermon, which wasn’t unusual – it was his job. But what was different that day was the response to the sermon – as one student paper put it, the sermon sparked an “outcry” and a torrent of criticism particularly on social media. The criticism ranged from complaints that Beckum had politicized his sermons to the idea that he had insulted Christians who served in the military.
What was this controversial sermon that Beckum gave? Here’s the full text and below you’ll find an embedded video of the sermon:
Beckum’s sermon that day was about America’s addiction to violence, citing the film “American Sniper” as a symptom of that, and how this was problematic for Christianity, a religion founded on the ideals of nonviolence. Here’s an excerpt:
As you know two movies came out recently. Selma, the story of one of the 20th century most influential Christian leaders, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who led a non-violent movement that changed the course of American History forever. And American Sniper, the story of the most deadly Navy SEAL sniper in American history. Selma has made 29-30 million so far. American Sniper made over 103 million in the first 4 days. Gives you an idea about who our heroes are. I don’t think it is an under-statement to say that our culture is addicted to violence, guns, war, revenge and retaliation. Unfortunately, so are a lot of Christians.
He went on to say that we have to “be very careful about equating patriotism with Christianity,” and implored his flock to be “controlled by love, compelled by love for everyone.”
Shortly after Beckum’s sermon, it was announced that he would no longer be the vice president of the university’s Community Foundation. Although the university president claimed Beckum had previously expressed interest in stepping down from that position, his daughter disputes this assertion.
Many in the MNU community are wondering if Beckum was “punished” for his pro-peace sermon, and the timing of his dismissal as VP of the community foundation seems to validate those concerns. “Even the people that were frustrated with what (Beckum) had to say in chapel, or wanted to challenge it, were confused and almost offended by the demotion,” said Kristi Rose Jackson, who was elected to be student body president.
Sadly, it appears that MNU may have given into the furor and decided that a Christian clergyman preaching the peace the founder of the faith stood for is simply too controversial for their campus.