|Public Theology||About Organize Theology Church Philosophy Ethics Politics Planning Society Economy Creation Peace Preach Media TheoEd Contact Home Subscribe||
Get Our Newsletter
Oregon Web Research
Oregon Militia Standoff Trial: Shock and Anger after Bundys Found Not Guilty
Bundy Brothers Could End Up Spending the Rest of Their Lives Behind Bars.
Irresponsible Rhetoric: Greg Walden Encourages Domestic Terrorists in Burns
Armed Thugs Finally Arrested at Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon
Franklin Graham Associates Himself with Militant Religious Extremism
Oregonian Reporter Glorifies a Mormon Extremist and Domestic Terrorist
Lavoy Finicum Was a Mormon Extremist Who Turned a Cause into a Death Wish
The Surprising History of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge
Malheur Wildlife Refuge Occupation Could Set Conservation Efforts Back Years
FBI Releases LaVoy Finicium Shooting Video Showing He Went For His Gun Twice
Libertarian Fairy Tales: The Bundy Militia's Revisionist History in Oregon
'The Lord is Not Pleased with What Happened to the Hammonds'
GOP Congressmen Echo Bundy Extremists With Attempted Takeover Of Public Lands
Mormon Pseudo-Historian is Why the Oregon Militants are So Confused about the Constitution
Oregon Ranchers Who Sparked Standoff Threatened to Wrap Official’s Son in Barbed Wire and Drown Him
To the Petulant Men with Guns Trampling on Public Land in Oregon
Oregonian Newspaper Castigated by Famous Author Over Libertarian Bias
Ammon Bundy and the Paradoxes of Mormon Political Theologies
Bundy Version of Morman Religion Justifies Armed Invasion of Wildlife Refuge
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.
Sponsored by the