This is an edited reposting from the following site where you can find additional links to the address in question: https://believervsnonbelievers.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/christian-theologian-demoted-for-preaching-peace/
On Monday, March 2, Dr. Randy Beckum was relieved of his Vice-Presidency at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Kansas. In a statement released by University President David J. Spittal, it was explained that Dr. Beckum will retain his position as Chaplain but will no longer serve in the VP position which he has held since 1996.
On Tuesday, February 10th, Dr. Beckum had addressed students at the university’s regular chapel service. His message was in response to two films which have recently made headlines around the world; American Sniper and Selma. Dr. Beckum, who also serves as the University’s Chaplain and was the Vice-President of Community Formation, questioned the prevalent culture surrounding “Christians” in the United States which champions a killer above a preacher who taught non-violence. The following are a few excerpts from his controversial message:
“I am just talking to those who would be followers of Jesus. This is not for those who don’t care about being a Christ follower. I am extremely troubled. I have been for a long time and I have hesitated to address this subject publicly, but I cannot keep silent about it any longer. Something happened recently that has really disturbed me.
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; 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.
We have to be very careful about equating patriotism with Christianity. We never say God and…anything. God is above all, everything else is underneath. I love my country and am thankful for freedom. But the earliest Christian creed was very politically incorrect and dangerous. Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not. We have put “our way of life”/freedom on the top rung. If you mess with it I’ll blow your head off. For a Christian what is on the top rung? Love for all.”
Fury and debate erupted across the Olathe, Kansas campus in response. Many believed that Beckum’s words were inflammatory while others whole-heartedly agreed with and supported his synopsis. Rumors persist that it was high financial contributors to the University and denominational leaders inside of the school who felt that the statements undermined the integrity of the University.
When I read this I experienced a bit of culture shock as a Mennonite and a Canadian because I do not think I would have been demoted for saying this at my Mennonite college in Canada. (And just for the record, I agree heartily with what he says.) But then I did some further thinking: I do live in the national riding that has had one of the most overwhelming landslides of Conservative votes in the past few elections. Our present Conservative government under Stephen Harper has fundamentally changed our foreign policy to be closely aligned with American ideology and is more aggressively militaristic than any of the previous governments of the past half century. We used to be known as a peace-keeping nation, now we are lumped in with USA’s aggressive policies. Ironically, it is also a riding that includes one of the largest percentages of Mennonite and evangelical Christian voters of any riding in Canada and our present MP is a member of a Mennonite Brethren Church in our city (I’ll blog about my theories on this when the next national election is called later this year). Perhaps my community is not all that different. Perhaps I should not take my job security for granted.