The Mormon Church responds to the armed occupation in Oregon.
An anti-government militia has taken control over a federal wildlife refuge facility in Oregon. The members of the militia include Mormons claiming ‘divine inspiration’ for their vile actions. Mormon Church officials are responding to these action by distancing themselves from the group.
Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made a statement on Monday that stated their strong condemnation of the armed seizing of the facility. They expressed how deeply troubled they were by the reports that the militia group that took over the building are suggesting that their actions are based on “scriptural principles.”
"This armed occupation can in no way be justified on a scriptural basis," the statement read.
On Saturday, Ammon Bundy and several others participated in the hostile takeover at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge located in Harney County in southeastern Oregon. Bundy has claimed that his faith is what led him to the refuge in order to defend both Dwight and Steven Hammond, a pair of father and son ranchers who were sentenced to prison for arson back in 2012, and then released and handed down new sentences last year.
Bundy is a Mormon and the son of a Nevada rancher named Cliven Bundy, who, back in 2014, had an infamous legal battle with the government ending in an armed confrontation.
“I got on my knees and I asked the Lord,” Ammon Bundy had stated in a video that was posted a day before the occupation. The video described how he apparently got the "overwhelming urge" to learn more about the Hammonds.
Oregon squatters use Book of Mormon to justify violence… Mormon church: Please could you not
— Just Jo (@grimalkinrn) January 6, 2016
Bundy stated that he had prayed: "'Lord, if you want me to write something, then please help me clear my mind and show me what I should write.’ And that’s what happened.”
News reports have cited Bundy's religious background, along with a long history of government persecution of Mormons, and also a conflict between the church and the government throughout the 19th century.
After they had received inquiries about the Oregon incident, Church officials released the statement.
The Church's Full Statement:
“While the disagreement occurring in Oregon about the use of federal lands is not a Church matter, Church leaders strongly condemn the armed seizure of the facility and are deeply troubled by the reports that those who have seized the facility suggest that they are doing so based on scriptural principles. This armed occupation can in no way be justified on a scriptural basis. We are privileged to live in a nation where conflicts with government or private groups can — and should — be settled using peaceful means, according to the laws of the land.”