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Are Members of the Bundy Militia Standoff Radical Mormons?

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Ammon Bundy, the leader of the Oregon militia standoff, said he was acting on an unofficial Mormon calling from God when he lead the allegedly illegal seizure of grazing land in Oregon.

In response, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints released a statement on Monday, saying:

"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."

If the militia group is supposedly acting in the name of the Mormon religion to justify extreme actions but the official LDS church opposes the seizure of land, does that mean Ammon Bundy and his group have become radical Mormons?

Richard Harvey, a student at Utah State University and a Mormon, said Bundy’s militia has become radicalized. He said if the militia takeover was religiously motivated, it wasn’t inspired by the LDS church rather by his own personal religious views.

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Click to hear the full interview with Richard Harvey

The occupiers don’t seem to be quite as extreme as ISIS, but there are some really fascinating parallels, said Harvey. These people, regardless of what the Mormon officials think they should be doing, are convinced that they should be doing some pretty radical criminal things because of their religion.

“Ammon claims that he has received explicit guidance from God that he needs to do this, which are sentiments that you find in other religious extremist groups like ISIS,” he said. “I don’t think my God is telling them to do that.”

Harvey said it's amazing what people are able to do with their faith.

“When someone is really passionate about their faith, it is very tempting to tie that to supernatural cosmic forces,” he said.

AymanAlafifi is a member of the Logan Islamic Center. He said anyone can become radicalized.

“It happens in every religion and in every community,” he said. “We can’t paint people with the same brush.”

People have motives beyond their religion and take their religion as a cover to justify their actions, he said.  

“Sometimes there are radicals even in ourselves. We have an extreme side that we try to oppress and hideaway,” Alafifi said.

Sam Brunson is a Mormon blogger with By Common Consent. He said he disagrees with calling the militia group radical Mormons. They are acting as western libertarians, he said, but they are using the language of Mormonism because that is what is familiar to them.  

“So, yes. I think they are radical and they are Mormon,” Brunson said. “But I don’t know if ‘radical Mormons’ is the appropriate terminology.”
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Click to hear the full interview with Sam Brunson

For an experts opinion, click here.