The immediate reason for the Bundy crew’s occupation of a small outpost in Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is the prosecution of Dwight Hammond and Steven Hammond for arson on federal property, but there is also apparently a cosmic motive in play.
According to Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter John Sepulvado, the Bundys have a history of incorporating Mormon themes into their peculiar brand of anti-government activism. The elder Bundy has spoken of the Constitution as a sacred document, while his son Ammon has articulated a religious reason for taking on the Hammond case:
“I got this urge that I needed write something,” Bundy said. “I asked the good Lord … I need some help. And he gave me that help. The Lord is not pleased what has happened with the Hammonds.”
Of course, not all Mormons agree with the Bundys’ interpretation of Mormon theology, or their crusade against the United States government. During the 2014 standoff between Cliven Bundy and federal agents in Nevada, Brigham Young University professor Quin Monson labeled the ranchers’ views “far on the fringes” of Mormon practice, and argued that they contravene current doctrine on obedience to secular laws. Fellow Mormon Glenn Beck also criticized Bundy’s interpretation of scripture during the standoff, claiming genuine Mormon practice must be non-violent: