Bill Tammeus, author of Love, Loss and Endurance, continued his months-long nationwide effort to encourage Americans to “unplug extremism” with a Sunday-morning sermon, addressed directly to Christians in light of the New Testament.
We have an easily share-able YouTube video of that sermon, which is a prophetic call to Christians to confront efforts to subvert the Bible for hateful purposes. He was preaching at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, Illinois, a congregation attended by his sister Mary. In the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks, both Bill and Mary lost a beloved family member in one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center—so this is a deeply personal message.
Here is a YouTube video of Bill’s sermon, which is “set” to begin when Bill steps into the pulpit. If you wish to see more of the service, you can easily start the video at another point.
Care to share this with friends?
This is a video you may want to share with friends or perhaps a small group within your congregation. (Bill welcomes invitations to meet with groups nationally.)
Here’s a small sample of what Bill says in his sermon:
As we learn in the book of James, faith is not worth much if it does not produce love, mercy and compassion. …
The 9/11 terrorist attacks—and examples of extremism before and after that—have sometimes tried to disguise themselves as rooted in religious thinking. But, do you know how to tell if such so-called religious teaching is not just false but also is a destructive sham? Any time those so-called religious teachings lead people to view others as less than fully human—or lead people to oppress others in some way, you can be sure it’s not the product of healthy religion and that whoever is preaching such things has it wrong. …
I want to be clear that all of our faith traditions can sometimes be subverted and distorted in this way. Yes, the twisted version of Islam that the terrorists bought into on 9/11 certainly was an example of this, but so was the kind of Christianity that slaveholders in the U.S. before the civil war used to justify their evil. And in our time, so is the kind of Christianity that encourages people to try to retain the White supremacy that was built into our nation’s founding documents—or to advocate for Christian nationalism—or to insist that our LGBTQ brothers and sisters have no place in the life of the church. To take those positions requires a distortion and subversion of scripture.
Care to learn more?
Bill Tammeus, served for many years as the award-winning columnist for The Kansas City Star until his retirement from the newsroom. Now, he writes the “Faith Matters” blog for The Star’s website and columns for The Presbyterian Outlook. Email him at [email protected].
Get his book: Love, Loss and Endurance: A 9/11 Story of Resilience and Hope in an Age of Anxiety. is available from Amazon and other online retailers.
To see the rising tide of terrorism, Bill recommends this summary from TRAC, the research center based at Syracuse University.
For more on the rise in extremism among military personnel and police, Bill points to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) article, headlined: The Military, Police, and the Rise of Terrorism in the United States
Bill also recommends: Other helpful resources for understanding domestic terrorism better include these books: American Zealots: Inside Right-Wing Domestic Terrorism, by Arie Perliger, and White Hot Hate: A True Story of Domestic Terrorism in America’s Heartland, by Dick Lehr. In addition, here’s an online resource you may find helpful from CSIS: “The War Comes Home: The Evolution of Domestic Terrorism in the United States.”