(Header photo courtesy of koin.com)
UPDATE 1/4/15 @12:31PM –
In response to news media inquiries, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement Monday, January 4:
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.
A group of milita members, led by Ammon Bundy, broke into the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon over the weekend and are currently occupying the space. They insist the protest is peaceful and have not destroyed property or harmed citizens.
The takeover occurred after a peaceful protest in response to the imprisonment of Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven, who burned over 100 acres of federal land in 2001 and were due to report to prison Monday. Their case was a visible example of larger tensions between rural ranchers, the federal government, and the issue of land rights.
After one of the protesters would only be identified as “Captain Moroni,” many news outlets began noting that many of the groups members, including Bundy, are members of the Church.
— Amanda Peacher (@amandapeacher) January 3, 2016
Buzzfeed posted an article entitled You Need To Understand Mormonism If You Want To Understand The Oregon Standoff, stating, “Mormonism has a long, complicated history of conflict with the federal government, and that history is deeply informing the actions of the militia members and ranchers who took over a government building Saturday.”
The OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting) also wrote Expaliner: The Bundy Militia’s Particular Brand of Mormonism, which gives a detailed history of who Captain Moroni is in the Book of Mormon and what they are calling “a new generation of Mormon Extremism.”
No official statement has been released by the Church in response to the situation. More information will be provided as it becomes available. Due to the potential dangers of the situation, no details have been released of the efforts to resolve the situation, but talks are currently underway. However, members of the group say they are prepared to remain in the building for months.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.