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  Oregon Web Research

United by Decency and Courage in Portland, Oregon  5/31/2017 
Nicholas D. Kristof: Article  White supremacist Jeremy Christian slashes the throats of three decent men trying to protect two young women, one black, one Muslim. Rick Best and Taisen Namkai-Meche died. A poem by Micah Fletcher.

Oregon Militia Standoff Trial: Shock and Anger after Bundys Found Not Guilty  10/29/2016 
Sam Levin: Article  The surprise verdict over the armed occupation has left many concerned that it will encourage other militias to take action against the government. This was an irresponsible jury.

Bundy Brothers Could End Up Spending the Rest of Their Lives Behind Bars.  3/15/2016 
Sam Levin: Article  The Burns standoff was no little protest. It was an act of domestic terrorism. These militia crusaders terrorized a town brandishing weapons and threatening violence.

Irresponsible Rhetoric: Greg Walden Encourages Domestic Terrorists in Burns  2/16/2016 
Ed Knudson: Article  Congressman Walden should apologize to the FBI, the State Police, and the Harney County Sheriff for increasing the dangers of the illegal Malheur Refuge occupation. Media placates conservatives.

Armed Thugs Finally Arrested at Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon  2/16/2016 
Ed Knudson: Article  This page is set up to follow the illegal actions of Ammon Bundy and associates near Burns, Oregon in January, 2016. The FBI and law enforcement have finally acted against these criminal acts.

Franklin Graham Associates Himself with Militant Religious Extremism  2/11/2016 
Ed Knudson: Article  The religious right in this country has ceased to be Christian. It is a Southern-oriented, commercialized, nationalized, politicized, racist religion worshiping false gods. It endangers democracy.

Oregonian Reporter Glorifies a Mormon Extremist and Domestic Terrorist  2/7/2016 
Ed Knudson: Article  The libertarian editors of Portland's largest paper have published a poorly written puff piece about Lavoy Finicum who helped lead the Malheur Refuge take-over. Carli Brosseau should be embarrassed.

Lavoy Finicum Was a Mormon Extremist Who Turned a Cause into a Death Wish  2/7/2016 
Jason Wilson: Article  Cowboy fantasies don't explain why a man would choose to act in ways leading to his death at the hands of police in an Oregon forest. Read here about Cleon Skousen and the John Birch Society.

The Surprising History of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge  2/3/2016 
Nancy Langston: Article  Anti-government zealots claim environmentalists hurt ranchers, but ranchers have hugely benefited from the great work done around Burns, Oregon.

Malheur Wildlife Refuge Occupation Could Set Conservation Efforts Back Years  2/3/2016 
Ben Goldfarb: Article  Invasive carp may recolonize areas they were once eradicated from. Scientists like Linda Beck help the Burns, Oregon area, create better conditions for employment and wildlife.

FBI Releases LaVoy Finicium Shooting Video Showing He Went For His Gun Twice  1/29/2016 
Travis Gettys: Article  Extremist gun rights advocates are claiming the FBI in Oregon shot a man with his hands up. Not so. The Bundys and others in Burns were illegally occupying federal property, terrorizing a rural town.

Libertarian Fairy Tales: The Bundy Militia's Revisionist History in Oregon  1/26/2016 
Aaron Bady: Article  For centuries, the federal government has bailed out cattle ranchers in Oregon and other Western states. It requires a lot of magical thinking—and historical erasure—to see 'tyranny' in Harney County.

'The Lord is Not Pleased with What Happened to the Hammonds'  1/24/2016 
Ed Knudson: Article  Listen to Ammon Bundy explain how 'the Lord' led him to go to Oregon to protest the arrest of two ranchers. But he is not relying on faith, but on guns and the threat of violence.

GOP Congressmen Echo Bundy Extremists With Attempted Takeover Of Public Lands  1/22/2016 
John Lundin: Article  Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz are both congressmen from Utah and both are Mormon. They want public land transfers away from federal control to private interests. What are the religious implications?

Mormon Pseudo-Historian is Why the Oregon Militants are So Confused about the Constitution  1/22/2016 
Travis Gettys: Article  Glenn Beck favorite, W. Cleon Skousen, promotes idea of U.S. as a Christian theocracy, accepted by many unthinking believers in the religious right and Republican leaders.

Oregon Ranchers Who Sparked Standoff Threatened to Wrap Official’s Son in Barbed Wire and Drown Him  1/21/2016 
Arun Gupta: Article  The Hammond ranch in Oregon was damaging the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, an incredible crown jewel habitat for hundreds of migratory birds. Hear voice of Fish and Wildlife employees here.

To the Petulant Men with Guns Trampling on Public Land in Oregon  1/20/2016 
Chase Thomas: Article  The Bundy brothers and their associates carry guns and brag they will die for their cause. Their actions, actually, are childish, and costing lots of money & anguish for Oregon. Here's a better way.

Oregonian Newspaper Castigated by Famous Author Over Libertarian Bias  1/20/2016 
Ryan Koronowski: Article  Ursula K. Le Guin lives in Oregon and was upset by the slanted news coverage of the largest paper in Portland of the armed take-over of wildlife refuge near Burns.

Ammon Bundy and the Paradoxes of Mormon Political Theologies  1/20/2016 
Benjamin E. Park: Article  The name 'Ammon' in the Book of Mormon is associated with violent bravery as if to justify armed illegal occupation of government property in Oregon. It's more complicated than that.

Bundy Version of Morman Religion Justifies Armed Invasion of Wildlife Refuge  1/20/2016 
John Sepulvado: Article  Anti-government extremism runs very deep in the Bundy family who believe the U.S. constitution is divinely inspired same as the bible. Captain Moroni is an anti-federalist hero.

Oregon Section

I live and work in Portland, Oregon so what happens in this state is of particular interest to me. In January, 2016, a small militia led by Ammon Bundy, a confessing Mormon, began occupying a federal building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, deep in rural Oregon, near the town of Burns. The articles in this section have to do with this situation.

There are fundamentally different approaches in the whole field of church and state among the different religious bodies. My own Lutheran faith has a quite different approach than the Calvinists (Baptists, Pentecostals, religious right, some mainline bodies), Roman Catholic, and Mormons. I associate myself with the historic Protestant churches which trace their origins to the 16th century Reformation especially in the Lutheran tradition. The Mormons are what some have called an "American" faith since it began as a religion in this country in the 19th century. Mormons trace their origins to the visions that Joseph Smith reported having in the early 1820s while living in upstate New York.

The "religious right" is somewhat like the Mormons since it places a high emphasis on "American exceptionalism" as if the God they worship has singled out the United States for special favor among the nations of the world. Though they claim to be biblically founded, there is nothing in the bible, of course, about American exceptionalism.

The Bundy brothers are promoting a fundamentally different theory of government than the mainstream legal tradition in this country. They believe they are serving their "God" in interpreting the constitution according to their understanding of the bible or Book of Mormon. The quick term for this theory is theocracy. The church should dominate the state. This is also the theory of main streams of the "religious right" which is now the primary form of Christianity in this country, called "evangelical" by the media and developing in the wake of the Southern Baptist evangelist, Billy Graham. This form of faith is very highly apocalyptic, focusing on the "end times," and suspicious of secular means of knowing, science and environmental concerns. One question I have is how strong this fundamentalist form of Christianity is in Harney County and whether it will tend to affirm the Mormon fundamentalism of the Bundys.

These different religious views have a lot to do with politics these days. For some time the Republican Party has relied on conservative religion for its primary base of constituents. It is important to understand that "beliefs have consequences". That is, many liberals have given up on any form of religious faith so they don't realize the degree to which such faith continues to motivate people today. They screen out of their minds the concepts necessary to actually understand what is happening in politics today. What is happening in Harney County is a clear example of what is happening in politics across the country, just in a more dramatic and confrontational way.

For example, just last night (1/23/16) the Mormon radio broadcaster, Glenn Beck, gave a big endorsement speech for Ted Cruz in Waterloo, Iowa. I watched the speech on C-Span. Beck provided almost no specific policy proposals in his endorsement, but spoke of "faith, hope, and charity" as his reasons. His general "faith" appeal may sound good to Christians in Iowa, but those Christians should actually stop long enough to think about what it means in policy terms for Ted Cruz. Very general emotional language does not provide good reasons to vote for someone. In fact, I tend to think that if a politician appeals for your vote based on emotional religious language, or very general talk about constitutionalism or patriotism, you should not vote for that person. Politicians these days are completely misusing traditional Christian language.

It is my view, developed over years of study, that the religious right is primarily the result of a religious and political backlash against increasing the civil rights of minorities, women, and gay people which began in the 1960s. The Republican Party became the party of Southern states allied with wealthy business interests opposed to efforts to maintain safe water and air quality in a healthy environment. These politicians don't talk about this very much, except in general hostility to environmentalists, because most people actually do want clean air and water for their children and families.

It is the South that especially hates the federal government for forcing it to change its ways of segregation. That hatred of the federal government is shared by many persons and companies in the western United States who want to be able to use federal resources belonging to all Americans for their own benefit, such as grazing of cattle, with little cost to themselves.

To understand these issues, then, it is especially important to look at history, to consider the various religious perspectives, and to realize the economic impacts of the role of the federal government as it tries to manage public lands for the benefit of all.

For more on this see the articles listed to the left. I am now doing research for a longer article about this matter.

The trial date for the occupiers has been set for September 7, 2016. Here are some mugshots:

Here is a PBS summary report on the High Desert Partnership on May 24, 2016.

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