Like many Mormons this week, I’ve been shaking my head at the stupidity unfolding in eastern Oregon, as the armed protesters who have seized federal property appear to be trying to goad the government into a dangerous confrontation. (See here for today's latest from Oregon, where protesters are resisting offers to walk away.)
The leaders of this group, including Ammon and Ryan Bundy, are Mormon, as are several of the other henchmen, including LaVoi Finicum and one calling himself “Captain Moroni” (see here). You can't make this stuff up.
Ammon Bundy in particular claims that it was the Lord’s urging that prompted him to seek out the Hammonds in the first place (it’s around the four-minute mark in the video below). His tearful recounting of this overwhelming "feeling" will be familiar to many Latter-day Saints who tell stories in testimony meetings of the various ways the Lord has prompted us.
But most of us don't think the Lord is giving us specific instructions about taking up arms and resisting the government. At the 16:30 mark, Bundy describes how crystal-clear this guidance was.
His certainty exists despite the opposition, even from the Hammond family he claimed to be helping (and now from the LDS Church, which strongly condemned his actions on Tuesday):
“I began to understand that what we were supposed to do is . . . get together individuals all across this country that understood and cared about what was happening. That understood that our Constitution was being violated, that it is hanging by a thread. . . .
They understood that is happening to Harney County would happen to all the counties across the United States and go into all the ends of the earth if there was not a stand made. And so I began to understand that I was to call all these people together, to ask them to come and to unite together in Harney County, and that we were to create a defense for the people of Harney County so that they can begin to use their land and their resources again . . . that they can get rid of the tyranny and the chains that are upon them. . . .
And I began to understand exactly how we should do it, exactly the steps that we were to take, and so I began to move in that direction. . . . [These things] have only become more and more clear. They are wisdom in the Lord. And so I am asking you to come to Harney County, to make the decision right now, of whether this is a righteous cause or not, whether I am some crazy person or whether the Lord truly works through individuals to get his purposes accomplished. I know that we are to stand now, and that we are to do these things now, or we will not have anything to pass on to our children. . . .
And I ask you now to come to Harney County to participate in this wonderful thing that the Lord is about to accomplish.”
So viewers are left to decide whether a) Bundy is leading a righteous and divinely inspired cause or b) is a "crazy person."
I can't speak for his state of mental health, but I can say that he needs to implement a more rigorous standard of whether a course of action this controversial and potentially violent has come from the Lord.
I'm pretty sure that was just the chili talking.