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Book Rec: Consumed by Hate, Redeemed by Love by Thomas A. Tarrants

Updated: Apr 9

A radical story of true transformation, Consumed by Hate, Redeemed by Love is as timely today as it was in the 1960s.

book cover of title consumed by hate redeemed by love

As an ordinary high school student in the 1960s, Tom Tarrants became deeply unsettled by the social upheaval of the era. In response, he turned for answers to extremist ideology and was soon utterly radicalized. Before long, he became involved in the reign of terror spread by Mississippi's dreaded White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, described by the FBI as the most violent right-wing terrorist organization in America.

 

In 1969, while attempting to bomb the home of a Jewish leader in Meridian, Mississippi, Tarrants was ambushed by law enforcement and shot multiple times during a high-speed chase. Nearly dead from his wounds, he was arrested and sentenced to thirty years in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman Farm. Unrepentant, Tarrants and two other inmates made a daring escape from Parchman yet were tracked down by an FBI SWAT team and apprehended in hail of bullets that killed one of the convicts. Tarrants spent the next three years alone in a six-foot-by-nine-foot cell. There he began a search for truth that led him to the Bible and a reading of the gospels, resulting in his conversion to Jesus Christ and liberation from the grip of racial hatred and violence.

 

Astounded by the change in Tarrants, many of the very people who worked to put him behind bars began advocating for his release. After serving eight years of a 35-year sentence, Tarrants left prison. He attended college, moved to Washington, D.C., and became co-pastor of a racially mixed church. He went on to earn a doctorate and became the president of the C. S. Lewis Institute.

 

Discussion Guide


  1. What did you initially think of the book’s title? How did your ideas change after reading it?

  2. What factors contributed to Tarrants’ radicalization? Was his situation common or unique?

  3. What role did religion play in his transformation?

  4. How is his story relevant today? What can we learn from his story?

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