‘American Sniper’ Criticism Costs Chaplain His Job

American Sniper and the controversy it created has just about worn off. The film has polarized America mostly on the conservative-liberal dividing line, but the daily headlines do seem to be wearing down now that the Academy Awards are over.

However, that could be about to change when you hear what happened to Christian chaplain Randy Beckum, who recently gave a sermon critical of the film, or rather what he perceives to be Christianity’s embrace of it.

Beckum delivered his address at MidAmerica Nazarene University (MNU) where, until his firing, he preached almost every Sunday.

For the full address, you can watch the video below, but for those of you who don’t have the time or patience, here is one of the more critical passages via AlterNet.

“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 also warned Christians not to equate their faith with patriotism through films like American Sniper, noting that they should be “controlled by love, compelled by love for everyone.”

Dr. Randy Beckum February 10th from MNU Chapel on Vimeo.

The AlterNet article notes that Beckum was relieved of his duties as the vice-president of MNU’s Community Foundation, though it later called it a “demotion,” so it’s not clear if he’s gone altogether or still working at the university but in a reduced capacity.

Nevertheless, most believe the comments are to blame, particularly Beckum’s daughter, who implied her father is being “punished” as a result of his views on the film.

On Saturday, the story made the front page of reddit with most commenters taking the university to task for acting out at a comment that did not seem controversial as this reader states.

“Why go to a college for Christian education if it won’t challenge your beliefs with alternatives, and offer other opinions? The worst thing about this isn’t that he stepped down for calling out militarism, it’s that he left for confronting students with a different point of view…. All this does is teach people that the person who gets offended the most wins, not the person with the best argument.”

Do you think the university should have demoted or fired Beckum for his American Sniper views? Sound off in the comments section.