The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement Monday condemning the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Harney County, Oregon, but some LDS members taking part say they’re following God’s will.
Late Sunday night, protestor Ammon Bundy posted a video on his Facebook page with an update from Harney County.
“There’s a lot of people that don’t believe that what we did was right, but I know that what we did is right,” Bundy said. “I know the Lord is involved, and I know that we are going to see great things come from this.”
In an earlier video, Bundy said he prayed about what to do about Oregon ranchers facing prison for burning federal land, and he said God responded. He and others who came to occupy the federal facility have quoted LDS scripture. One protestor called himself Captain Moroni, referencing a Mormon scriptural figure who threatened to march against the government. Jim Dalrymple, a member of the LDS Church and Buzzfeed reporter published an article pointing out the deep connection between Mormon history and the actions of these armed anti-federalists.
“The Mormon story is a story of interaction with the land and the government and the way that the land is managed,” Dalrymple says. “As Mormons have urbanized, some of that has been sort of lost and forgotten, but in places where grazing and water issues and these sorts of things are still contentious topics, those issues didn’t ever go away.”
Meanwhile, an LDS Church spokesperson released a statement condemning the seizure of the facility, saying the armed occupation can in no way be justified on a scriptural basis.