Should the Church Excommunicate Ammon Bundy?

No.

I mean, I get why people think otherwise. Recently, people have been excommunicated, among other reasons, for advocating women’s ordination to the priesthood and for marrying the person they love.[fn1] Ammon and his cohort have adopted the grammar of Mormonism and Mormon scripture to justify their armed trespass (or sedition or terrorism or whatever—let’s just say their lawbreaking), a justification that the church forcefully and unequivocally rejected.[fn2] Their actions are a clear violation of the 12th Article of Faith and certainly do more harm, both socially and to the reputation of the church, than trying to get into the Priesthood session of Conference or marrying a same-sex partner, and it seems unfair that Bundy et al. won’t face any ecclesiastical consequences.[fn3]

But that doesn’t mean Bundy—or other participants—should be excommunicated. The disappointment that they don’t appear to be facing any church discipline parallels the disappointment many have expressed that the government is treating them with kid gloves. It’s not, I think, that anybody wants to see the FBI go in with guns blazing. But in recent high-profile cases, police haven’t exercised the same restraint around black men and women. That police would shoot a 12-year-old African-American boy with a fake gun, but not do anything about a dozen white men with real guns actually breaking the law, seems unjust and unfair.

But, as Jamelle Bouie convincingly lays out at Slate, “why won’t they shoot at armed white fanatics isn’t just the wrong question; it’s a bad one.” Going in violently against white criminals doesn’t reduce the chances that the police will go in violently against black criminals; rather, it legitimizes state violence.

Similarly, excommunicating Ammon Bundy wouldn’t do anything to help gay couples or advocates for women’s ordination. Instead, it would further legitimize excommunication as a tool for dealing with sinners and bad actors, and would move the church further into the space of a resort for saints, rather than a hospital for sinners. The problem is, that’s not what the church is for. Elder Wirthlin explained that

[t]he Church is not a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things, or have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings. The Church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other as we press on in our journey to return to our Heavenly Father.

Excommunication shunts off some of those imperfect people, and its threat discourages other imperfect people from participating. And that hurts all of us.

So no, Ammon Bundy shouldn’t be excommunicated, as satisfying as that should be. The church, with its forceful denunciation of his acts and of their religious basis, responded perfectly, and I applaud that response. It’s a model of how the institutional church should react to members acting badly.

[fn1] I’d be thoroughly remiss if I didn’t point you to Mike Austin’s take on this, of course.

[fn2] Among other things, the church says that “[t]his armed occupation can in no way be justified on a scriptural basis. ”

[fn3] Of course, they’ll probably serve jail time, so there’s always that.

Comments

  1. Surely, though, he and his father should face some sort of Church discipline and public condemnation by name, to make it clear that they do not speak for Mormons or Mormonism.

  2. “It’s not, I think, that anybody wants to see the FBI go in with guns blazing.”

    I’ve seen a bunch of people on social media make that exact argument, or near enough, unfortunately. Anyway, I’m against excommunication in pretty much every instance…even for the Bundys.

  3. Church Handbook 1 says:

    6.1 Definition and Purposes of Church Discipline
    Bishops and stake presidents have a responsibility to help members overcome transgression through repentance. This responsibility includes counseling with individual members as needed and helping them in their efforts to repent. In some circumstances, it requires administering Church discipline. The term Church discipline refers to restrictions and conditions of repentance placed on a person.

    Guided by the Holy Ghost and the instructions in this chapter, bishops and stake presidents administer either informal or formal Church discipline as needed. Leaders administer Church discipline in a spirit of love so it can bless the life of the transgressor. To do this, leaders must be guided and inspired by the Lord.

    Informal Church discipline is administered in private interviews. It does not affect a member’s standing in the Church (see 6.8). Formal Church discipline is administered in a disciplinary council and can affect a member’s standing in the Church (see 6.9 and 6.10).

    The purposes of Church discipline are (1) to save the souls of transgressors, (2) to protect the innocent, and (3) to safeguard the purity, integrity, and good name of the Church.

    6.1.1 Save the Souls of Transgressors

    The first purpose of Church discipline is to save the souls of transgressors by helping them repent (see D&C 1:31–32; 19:13–20; 42:37; 64:12–13). When people do not repent, they are exposed to the demands of eternal justice (see Alma 34:16). When they exercise faith unto repentance, God forgives them, granting mercy through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see Alma 42:23; D&C 58:42). Through this process, they may again become clean and worthy to inherit the kingdom of God (see 3 Nephi 27:19; Moses 6:57).

    Church discipline can facilitate repentance by helping transgressors recognize and forsake sin, seek forgiveness, make restitution, and demonstrate a renewed commitment to keep the commandments. Informal Church discipline is often adequate for this purpose. However, in some instances the only way to encourage true repentance is to convene a disciplinary council and consider formal discipline. Without formal discipline, some transgressors may never experience the change of behavior and change of heart necessary to qualify them for redemption through the Atonement, for “none but the truly penitent are saved” (Alma 42:24).

    6.1.2 Protect the Innocent

    The second purpose of Church discipline is to protect the innocent. With inspiration, a priesthood leader should act to protect others when a transgressor poses a physical or spiritual threat to them, such as by predatory practices, physical harm, sexual abuse, drug misuse, fraud, or apostasy (see Alma 5:59–60).

    6.1.3 Safeguard the Integrity of the Church

    The third purpose of Church discipline is to safeguard the purity, integrity, and good name of the Church. Consequently, transgressions that significantly impair the good name or moral influence of the Church may require the action of a disciplinary council.

    With that being said, Ammon and his friends may face formal church discipline if they are unwilling to humble themselves and repent after receiving informal church discipline. I know that it’s a favorite meme on BCC to view formal church discipline solely used as a weapon to root out unsavory elements, but as you can see, that is not the purpose of church discipline.

  4. Reese, it’s fine, I suppose, to quote a big chunk of text from the Handbook without any commentary, but I don’t, frankly, follow your point. I’m actually perfectly familiar with your quoted language, and don’t find that it bears on my argument at all.

  5. Agreed that they shouldn’t be disciplined.

    Also agreed that many other prominent excommunications were a very bad decision.

  6. But mormonism is not a religion where gay couples or advocates for women’s ordination are going to be helped. So, given that these are things that get excommunication but insurrection is not, that speaks to the values of Mormonism.

    We already know through repeated experience that mormonism is not gay affirming and not feminist affirming. That’s why these are the lines in the sand that the church establishes.

    But what we also know is – if there is no disciplinary action – is that the church doesn’t find what the Bundys to do to be *as* bad.

  7. A Happy Hubby says:

    I think I actually agree that excommunication in this case may not be the right thing. In fact I think the church has handled this the right way and maybe if they were to have said something when the first round of Bundy’s vs Feds (maybe something like, “We are not going to get into the middle of who is correct, but the church does not support armed confrontation as we support the law”) then this second round might not have happened.

    But I do think that most are pointing out the glaring difference that these guys are not getting any church discipline, while someone that asks a few times to attend a meeting is excommunicated. It isn’t so much of a “ex these guys also” as “why were people ex’ed for what seems much more minor issue and these guys are not.”

  8. Andrew, I agree that the messaging is bad, feels unfair, and is, in fact, unfair. But in the long run, not excommunicating Ammon Bundy, I submit, is better for feminists and gay members, because it messages (both to church members and leaders) that excommunication is not a necessary response to public behavior that the church doesn’t support; no disciplining Bundy gives the church breathing room, and possibly affirmation, especially if we affirm the move.

  9. It isn’t so much of a “ex these guys also” as “why were people ex’ed for what seems much more minor issue and these guys are not.”

    Happy Hubby, I agree. And calling out the difference is valuable and productive, I think. But that’s different than demanding, in the interest of fairness, that the bad consequences accrue to Bundy because they’ve accrued to others.

  10. it's a series of tubes says:

    If Ammon is ultimately convicted of a felony, the likelihood of his being excommunicated goes up significantly.

  11. The Other Brother Jones says:

    I think the church has done the right thing by releasing the statement. But talk of official discipline right now is early. The situation is still unfolding. After it has ended, however it ends, then the church can think about discipline. It just not the right question right now.

  12. GodisGood says:

    If they said that the Church leadership is wrong and teachings of the Church are wrong, or demonstrate against the church, then you would have a case. However, they have done nothing wrong against the Church that merits discipline.Actual violence can also be considered an actionable offense depending on the circumstances. Demonstrating against the government, even with armed resistance, is very much a part of Church history.

  13. Daniel Ortner says:

    The fact that the Church is a place for imperfect people does not mean that excommunication is not justified. Indeed, because we are fallen and tend to fall to Satan’s seductive temptations, it is more needed.

    To consider the hospital metaphor. Yes, the Church is place for treating the sick. But every hospital in the world employs quarantine procedures for those who are highly infectious and likely to harm the patients. Indeed, because those who are sick have weakened immune systems, such steps to quarantine the infectious are even more necessary than outside of the hospital. In the Church, those we are infectious, and especially those who actively seek to infect others must be quarantined both for their own good and for the good of others that they could harm.

  14. GodisGood, that’s actually entirely wrong, according to the current Handbook. Under the Handbook, excommunicatable offenses include, inter alia, fraud and perjury, neither of which (a) says the church is wrong, or (b) is actual violence.

    And Daniel, sure, a hospital will quarantine the very sick. But hospitals do not kick the very sick out. Rather, they will go to great expense to ensure that they can safely try to treat sick people. Apparently, it costs $25,000 to $50,000 to treat an Ebola patient in the US, and the doctors, nurses, and other hospital employees face risks in treating them. And yet they do. So I think the hospital metaphor stands up very well.

  15. I think we can agree with Daniel that we are soon to see a policy prohibiting the children of these insurrectionists from getting baptized until they turn 18, renounce their parents’ sins, and move out from living with them.

  16. Brother Sky says:

    I think the church has a tradition of being more likely to excommunicate people for reasons having more to do with intellectualism or some sort of sexual transgression, at least lately. The fact that this church, like many other churches, finds the intellect and human sexuality more threatening than violence or insurrection is entirely consistent with its doctrine/policies/practices as currently constituted, IMHO. For that and for the reasons Reese gives above, I don’t expect any formal action unless things escalate a lot more than they have.

  17. Roger Nolter says:

    In regards to this response by the Church :”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.” I then ask the following question, when is armed resistance warranted? I believe when one has exhausted all reasonable attempts within the auspices of the laws of the land it may be justified and not only justified but morally expedient to do so based on the grievances posed by the people against said government. Was not our own declaration such a statement of the abuse of government?

  18. Roger, the question of when and how to do civil disobedience is so far outside the scope of this particular post that I’m going to request that it not be pursued here.

  19. Armed insurrection isn’t civil disobedience, Sam. An impromptu, peaceful protest at Mall of America, to name a random example, counts as civil disobedience — but of course in that instance SWAT squadrons in full body armor were sent in . . . .

  20. Clark Goble says:

    Whether he should be excommunicated or merely disfellowshipped would be up to the council convened. However I’d think there ought be a church court if – especially after the statement from the Church – they continue in these actions. Saying it wouldn’t help women’s ordination or gay marriage advocates seems an odd tract to take. I don’t think most people would even conceive of the debate in those terms. Excommunicating an unrepentant adulterer wouldn’t really help anyone else either. But that’s not why there’s excommunication.

  21. “Demonstrating against the government, even with armed resistance, is very much a part of Church history.” Is it too obvious to point out that many things that are very much a part of church history are excommunicable offenses? I agree that excommunication is probably not appropriate here, at least not yet, anyway, but that’s not because what they’re doing is historically precedented.

  22. john, absolutely it isn’t. But then the discussion would have to move toward what is civil disobedience, how it’s done, by whom, when. It’s not an unimportant discussion, but it’s not one I’m interested in here.

    And Clark, certainly most people wouldn’t frame it in the way I’ve framed it. Which is part of the reason I’ve framed it this way—calls for his excommunication (or, at least, calls that I’ve seen) have largely come from those of us sympathetic toward LGBT rights and the equal treatment of women, and have largely centered on the unfairness of excommunicating advocates of positions we prefer, while not excommunicating people who advocate positions we disagree with.

    To reiterate what I said in the OP: escalating church discipline in this case does nothing to help the cases I’m troubled by, and ultimately may cause harm to others who support positions I support. The answer to unequal treatment is not to treat the second as badly as the first, but rather, to treat the first as well as the second.

  23. Clark, I think Sam was responding to the following argument: excommunicating people who advocate for gay marriage or women’s ordination but not those who advocate for insurrection is unfair, because all these things are against church doctrine or policy, and therefore, since excommunication applies to advocating for gay marriage or women’s ordination, it should also apply to this case.

    I don’t think Sam was saying that whether excommunication in this case helps or hurts these other causes is the single or the primary consideration.

  24. Clark Goble says:

    Andrew S (8:59) I don’t think we can take from excommunication really notions of badness. Further I’ve always considered ranking activities in a linear scale kind of confusing. Fornication is bad, but is it as bad a theft? I don’t know. Church discipline isn’t always over how bad something is in some weird calculus. Often it’s done for political purposes. I don’t mean that in the crass sense of how say cable news is always pushing an ideology. Rather in the more limited sense that the Church has to maintain certain boundaries. So something like polygamy is treated more seriously than adultery simply because it not only has an effect on the individuals involved but an effect on the church. Likewise fornication by an endowed person is treated differently from say a non-member. So I think we have to be careful.

    John F (10:26) I think the police and federal agencies would react to the Bundys very differently were they in a crowded shopping mall stopping business rather than in a remote empty building with no one around. But the limits of civil disobedience seem beside the point. I think everyone would agree the problem with the Bundys is that they’ve gone well beyond mere civil disobedience. Even those sympathetic to them think they’ve gone well beyond that line.

    Roger (10:11) in a democracy we have to acknowledge that what we consider abuse might not be considered such by others. What the Church is saying is that we adjudicate this by the courts and when we lose, even if we think the courts wrong, we accept them. A good example of this would be the brethren’s view of the gay marriage decision. Now perhaps at a sufficient level a different action would be appropriate. However not liking that the federal government owns lands in the west and determines what is done on them really seems ridiculously far from that line.

    GodisGood (9:49) The Church has said their acts are inappropriate and violate Church teaching. If they continue in an armed fashion then that is an act of violence (much like a mugger threatening you with a gun is violent even if they don’t use it). Effectively by threatening people with guns, trespassing they have crossed a line.

  25. Sam, I apologize that you missed the point of my previous comment. I’m actually supporting your argument. My point is solely that, the purpose of church discipline is to 1. Save the Souls of Transgressors; 2. Protect the Innocent; 3. Safeguard the Integrity of the Church. At this point, any Mormons involved in this incident are violating civil law, and thus may face discipline under #1, and are misrepresenting Church doctrine, and thus may face discipline under #3.

    Some of the “high profile” excommunications recently have happened because the individuals appear to be unwilling to show contrition and repent. For example, Kate Kelly’s constant droning in her appeal letter of “you can still do the right thing [by reversing the decision].”

    If any Mormons involved in this incident are brought before their local leaders (at the Ward or Stake level) and informally or formally disciplined, and show humility, remorse, and repentance, then they should not be excommunicated. If they are proud and belligerent, and unwilling to acknowledge that they have done nothing wrong, then perhaps a disfellowshipment, and continued work with the individuals until they are willing to repent. My point is, there are a lot of options available before straight up excommunicating someone.

    As an aside, I thought that this blog post outlining the grievances of the Hammond family, and other ranchers in the area, was insightful: http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2016/01/03/full-story-on-whats-going-on-in-oregon-militia-take-over-malheur-national-wildlife-refuge-in-protest-to-hammond-family-persecution/

    Living in a Western state and having family in the ranching business, it’s actually quite terrible the way the BLM throws their weight around and Easterners stick there nose in places where they don’t belong.

  26. Clark Goble says:

    Sam (10:36) Honestly I don’t think most people calling for a church court (including myself) are on the social liberal side of church theology. It seems a lot of people think at minimum a church court should be held – especially if they persist after the Church has come out against their actions. I’m honestly not hearing a lot of defenders of them.

  27. Reese, it’s well outside of the scope of this post, but the blog post you link to gets both the law and the judicial procedure wildly, wildly wrong.

  28. We’re hearing different voices, then, Clark. And this post clearly isn’t written to members who have no problem with the recent excommunications, so please feel free to disregard it if you want (though irrespective of political and theological leanings, I hope you agree that using excommunication as a strategy for showing disapproval, where less-harsh ways of showing disapproval are available, is probably not a good thing).

  29. Clark Goble says:

    Reese (10:42) I’m pretty sympathetic to western land use issues. I think one problem is that the government tends to make changes a bit too abruptly. Starting with Carter and the so-called Sagebrush rebellion but also under Clinton. That said, it is government land and we live in a Democracy. While I’d like to see government land sold, most of the people in question – especially the Hammonds and Bundys – aren’t exactly the most sympathetic of characters. It often seems at minimum they are highly hypocritical and more often simply uses the specter of these land use issues to excuse greed, theft and a lack of general responsibility. (There’s compelling evidence for instance that the Hammonds started the fires to hide poaching)

    That doesn’t mean the underlying issues aren’t real issues. Much like Michael Brown in Ferguson wasn’t exactly a sympathetic character yet the issue of police abuse and being too quick to use force against African Americans is a real issue. I just wish we had people other than the Hammonds and Bundys being the poster child for these issues. It makes the opportunity for reform more difficult.

  30. Clark Goble says:

    Sam (10:47) I think I’ve said most I have to say. Don’t want to get on Steve’s bad side for hogging the discussion. (grin) As to the voices we hear, it probably depends upon who one is listening to. (That’s as true of me – it’s not like I have some way to get a representative sample of how Mormons think on the issue)

    Regarding excommunication, I think that for political matters it’s not at all inappropriate way to police lines. What’s appropriate in one context may not be in an other. I’d hope if there is a court that the people involved follow the spirit.

    Regarding my earlier comment. I should distinguish between the first fire the Hammond’s set versus the one they were convicted for. In both cases there was strong evidence their explanations were lies. Also in both cases they put people’s lives at risk. The best legal explainer I’ve found is this one from Popehat.

  31. It doesn’t matter to me whether he is excommunicated or not. But I am well enough versed in Church governance to know that my, and your, personal opinion, no matter “how well thought out,” to quote from lds.org, doesn’t matters. All that matters is his stake president’s opinion (which may be guided by higher ups). Discussing whether Bundy should or should not be disciplined by the Church is equivalent to a discussion as to which way the heavenly gate swings. Weighing in on whether he is engaging in appropriate civil disobedience is another matter, although Church leaders apparently think he is out of line.

  32. You can’t really overthrow a government (just or unjust) without breaking it’s laws. If I was convinced that the federal government was violating the constitution and committing crimes against it’s own people, I’d take up arms against it too.

    Frankly, I’d already concerned about the overt terrorism the executive branch has already committed that we know to be confirmed – let alone the stuff we don’t know about. What exactly does our government have to do before it’s overstayed it’s welcome?

  33. Setting aside the technicalities of the CHI, the fact is that excommunications inevitably anger and alienate those who sympathize with the individual being disciplined (or their cause). Clearly this did not concern the Church when it came to Kate Kelly or John Dehlin – their sympathizers are just a bunch of liberal complainers who are probably on their way out anyway. Its not much of a loss to the institution.

    But the Bundy family, on the other hand, has a large group of sympathizers on the other end of the political spectrum. I don’t hang out with them, but trust me there are tons of folks in the church who agree with their cause. Many of these folks spend time on ldsfreedomforum.com and similar forums and websites absorbing the messages of fear. These are the “stalwarts” of the church; active, leaders, tithe-payers, etc. This is not a group the Bretheren want to alienate.

  34. John Mansfield says:

    The John Dehlin Experience played out over a decade before his invited private performance for the stake high council. The world was hearing from Kate Kelly for most of a year before she told us about dealings with her bishop and stake president. With Clive Bundy in Bunkerville, Nevada, there was no obvious Mormon element to his civil conflict with the BLM other than that he is a Mormon in a Mormon community. With his sons in Oregon, LDS elements of thought motivating people are being explicitly expressed and receiving media attention, to the point that the LDS church has stepped in with a statement denouncing the federal reserve occupation. Maybe after this the Bundy’s will cool off, or maybe they’ll work their way out of the LDS church like Bo Gritz did. Maybe they will be cut off from the LDS church, but chose not to tell the world about it. Many possible futures.

    Oddly for me, last Wednesday I visited Boston for the first time and took in the Paul Revere and Tea Party sights, so I was all primed with thoughts wondering what sort of men would do what those in Massachusetts did, and about the correctness of their acts, thoughts that Sam Brunson has asked not clutter his particular musing on excommunications.

  35. The idea of the Church as a hospital is a very useful analogy, but even in hospitals–if a patient won’t admit that he’s sick, resists treatment, and engages in behaviors that may spread his illness; then ultimately your only choices are to put the patient in lockdown or to escort him from the building and leave him to his own devices.

    The Church doesn’t have the lockdown option. Hence, excommunication.

  36. You can’t really overthrow a government (just or unjust) without breaking it’s laws. If I was convinced that the federal government was violating the constitution and committing crimes against it’s own people, I’d take up arms against it too.

    Frankly, I’d already concerned about the overt terrorism the executive branch has already committed that we know to be confirmed – let alone the stuff we don’t know about. What exactly does our government have to do before it’s overstayed its welcome?

  37. “I think we can agree with Daniel that we are soon to see a policy prohibiting the children of these insurrectionists from getting baptized until they turn 18, renounce their parents’ sins, and move out from living with them.”

    I do wonder if there is somewhat of a dilution of sorts going on right now. There’s a lot of speaking out of both sides of the mouth in judging what’s just fine about the exclusionary policy for children that has at least some of its roots in judging the fruits of excommunication.

  38. Clark Goble says:

    Porter (11:12) The Church has excommunicated people on the right theologically/politically as well. Denver Snuffer being the obvious example. In the so-called September Six Gileadi was typically seen on the right and was popular with the more apocalyptic types of the right.

  39. The US Constitution, which all law enforcement have sworn to uphold, and which Jesus Christ himself gave support to in the D&C, says that the Hammonds are within their rights and should not have been jailed for the non-crime of tending their lands to the best of their ability. In this instance, as well as thousands of others, the US Govt is well out of bounds.

    The D&C has Christ himself saying that any man-made laws over and above the US Constitution “cometh of evil”. The USA has devolved so low as to control its population through unconstitutional “statutes”. Are we truly a free people if we can be fined/imprisoned for not wearing a seatbelt?

    So whose standing in the church should be called into question? The Bundy men, or any LDS members who “go along to get along” in support the numerous unconstitutional laws?

  40. From my perspective, the view Linda expresses is very common in the Church, close to mainstream. This is a big cause for concern and shows why media focus on the Mormon angle of the Ammon Bundy escapade is completely legitimate. These beliefs are entirely consistent with the culture that was allowed to develop in the Church particularly during the last half of the twentieth century — fully endorsed by Church leaders from the general level on down to the local level and heartily embraced by many, many Mormons including your relatives and mine.

    The Church’s Newsroom statement is actually surprising in that it (very weakly) counters this cultural trend among Mormons that has been incubating since at least 1945.

  41. For example, Jon McNaughton’s next piece will probably be something lionizing Ammon Bundy.

  42. Clark Goble says:

    John, if that were all the Hammonds were doing I’d be sympathetic too. The problem is that how the Hammonds are portrayed versus the facts of the case as brought out at trial are quite different.

  43. Linda (and Eso and others), last warning: this is not the place to discuss the Hammonds, or to engage in baseless and uninformed constitutional speculation. To the extent you care about the legal proceeding surrounding the Hammond case, you can go to the Popehat link Clark gave above; it’s the simplest, most accurate description of the legal and procedural regimes at issue there that I’ve seen.

    I’m not going to warn any further. I will, though, delete comments mercilessly if they want to go in that direction. If you’re interested in the Hammond case, in civil disobedience, in sedition, in the Constitution, or in any number of other issues that aren’t the question of excommunication, it’s a big internet, and I’m certain you can find a place to land. But this is not that landing place.

  44. Linda, the Hammonds were declared guilty of setting fire to federal land (139 acres in one case, and 1 acre in another). The government didn’t care about the fires the Hammonds deliberately set on their own land. Had those fires remained on their private property, there would be no jail time.

  45. it's a series of tubes says:

    Linda, can you cite the portion of the Constitution that says the Hammonds “are within their rights and should not have been jailed for the non-crime of tending their lands to the best of their ability”?

    kthx

  46. Sorry Sam, didn’t see your comment before I posted.

  47. Mary Ann, no worries, I get that there’s a brief time lag.

  48. When confronting this question, the one thing we should not expect is consistent application of the rules for excommunication, either across time or distance. The church typically targets those who it perceives as a threat to the institution, and those threats change over time. Hence, publicly expressing dissenting views on doctrinal topics in September 1993 would more likely result in your removal than today—not so much because the church is more enlightened or tolerant but because the Internet as defeated its effort to suppress inconvenient truths about its past.

    Also, where you live can obviously affect how the church approaches a wayward member, since your membership status is generally decided by your local leaders—though not always, contrary to the periodic denials emanating from the church PR folks.

    So for me, it’s hard to get worked up about whether the Bundys get the boot since I have little expectation that excommunication will ever be administered in a consistent or coherent manner, beyond the most egregious, black and white circumstances.

  49. Are there any guidelines regarding excommunication or church discipline for people convicted of crimes?

    The U.S. Code states:
    “If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

    Interesting to recall,
    Joseph Smith was charged with inciting a riot when he ordered the destruction of the printing press. Later he was charged with treason when he declared martial law in Nauvoo.

    Today, apostacy/public criticism/questioning of church leadership decisions and engaging in homosexual relations clearly rank near the top as the most grievous of sins deserving of excommunication.

  50. I would add,
    I don’t really care at this point if the Bundy’s are excommunicated or not simply because I’ve lost a lot of respect for church administration at this point when they set themselves above others and are immune to basic principles of forthrightness and restitution.

  51. J. Stapley says:

    It’s been a while since I boned up on excommunication policy and procedure, however, I’m not sure that the question of whether or not “the church” can excommunicate any of these folks works. The church can and did release a statement about their actions. And church leaders in SLC or members of the Strengthening the Members of the Church committee very well may communicate a pressing need (and potentially and outcome) of church discipline to local church leaders. In the past, conviction of a felony often elicited church discipline.

    I’m not opposed to church discipline in principle. I think having due process is important. The question is then when to instigate church discipline. It usually will occur well after the fact of something.

  52. “For example, Jon McNaughton’s next piece will probably be something lionizing Ammon Bundy.”

    Ugh, I seriously hope this is not true. This whole episode is already embarrassing enough.

  53. Farside said: “The church typically targets those who it perceives as a threat to the institution, and those threats change over time. ”

    I think this explains Kate Kelly and John Dehlin, no? (That they could be perceived as institutional threats, not that I necessarily agree or disagree.) The Bundys fall into the category of embarrassing the Church.

  54. Yes. Excommunicate them. Excommunicate everyone. All the time. For big stuff, little stuff, whatever. Do it so often that it is normalized and just becomes NBD.

  55. Ammon Bundy should be disciplined at the very least. By suggesting that his Mormon faith compelled him to these actions, he is definitely putting into question “the purity, integrity, and good name of the Church.” Even during wartime, church leaders have instructed members to follow laws in their own countries and avoid causing trouble. In the United States, there will likely not be physical consequences to other members because of Ammon’s actions. In other countries, though, governments would not take lightly a religion that justifies civil disobedience. Members are encouraged to enact change through proper channels.

    The church bends over backwards to adhere to government regulations in it’s international affairs. It abides by restrictions on proselyting or having official presence. Actions like these create problems for the church in getting government leaders to trust them, to allow the church to have official presence in their countries. Bundy’s actions have very publicly sullied the good name of the church with respect to law and order, which is why leaders had to swiftly issue a public statement denouncing the actions.

  56. When did the cast of Married with Children and the Unabomber take such an interest in bird refuges?

  57. Marc, isn’t Ammon Bundy already featured in this painting by Jon McNaughton?

    http://jonmcnaughton.com/content/ZoomDetailPages/TheForgottenMan.html

    Remember McNaughton and Mormons like him believe that President Obama is a Kenyan Muslim Socialist and that anything the federal government has done since he entered office is an act of oppression as a result. Reasoned analysis of anything is out the window. It’s all just Kenyan Socialism and by definition, evil.

  58. Parker,
    “I am well enough versed in Church governance to know that my, and your, personal opinion, no matter “how well thought out,” to quote from lds.org, doesn’t matters. All that matters is his stake president’s opinion (which may be guided by higher ups). Discussing whether Bundy should or should not be disciplined by the Church is equivalent to a discussion as to which way the heavenly gate swings.”

    I’m pretty sure one purpose of the Bloggernacle is to have discussions over things we are helpless to control. And the idea that the heavenly gate swings is ridiculous. It’s a veil.

  59. He should be excommunicated for usurping the role of the Prophet in rebuking and passing judgement on local peers as well as the country and purporting himself as the spokesperson of God to the masses using LDS doctrine and scripture, but without PH keys or authority. Without even considering his actions, setting himself above the Prophet and as the ‘real’ voice of God for a people is pure apostasy. (“God is displeased . . . “) Listen, I dislike excommunication intensely and think that 30,000 excommunications per year is silly. It should be reserved for the most rare and egregious cases, such as this.

    I don’t understand why the GAs don’t communicate with John Brown characters or even loud advocates (like JD or KK) before things explode. In SLC there seems to be a Cornwallis-like snobbery to meeting outside one’s “level” and they keep most members in check by denying attention or an audience. Still, I have to wonder, how big does something need to get in order for the GAs to become involved? For example, John Dehlin had millions of website hits and several stakes worth of followers across the globe, yet was dealt with by a bishop (a leader of 300) and a stake president (a leader of 3,000). The Oregon standoff is big and dangerous. Would the brethren ever try to persuade the leader or even visit with the followers? The public PR statements by unknown ‘official’ church employees are galvanizing and disregarded by radicals.

  60. In other news, the church issued this retro-active statement regarding the bloodless capture of the fort and canons at Ticonderoga (1 year before the Declaration of Independence):

    “Church leaders strongly condemn the armed seizure of the facility and 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.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on the side of anyone seizing a government facility, now matter how remote, to prove a political point about the overreach of the federal government. But I’ve often wondered whether a modern Latter-day Saint would be expected to be loyal to the crown or colonies back in the revolutionary days.

  61. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    If Chad Hardy could be excommunicated for ‘conduct unbecoming’ for his calendars, couldn’t the behavior of the Bundy’s be ascribed as unbecoming?

  62. I definitely think so. But see Linda and others above.

  63. I think this is the wrong analysis, Sam. Granted, “Excommunicating Bunday wouldn’t do anything to help gay couple or advocates for women’s ordination.” But that’s hardly more than saying “two wrongs don’t make a right.” And the answer is that Bunday should be judged or reviewed on the merits and not by any sort of comparison, better or worse. Granted, excommunication is generally and perhaps always a poor choice. I’m very sympathetic to the view that we’d be better off to dispense with excommunication entirely. But in the real present world, excommunication happens and comes in basically two forms. One is escalation, the “do what we say or else” variety. The second is protection, protecting the Church, protecting the members, protecting the boundaries. With respect to Bundy, escalation takes time and probably hasn’t even started, but could happen eventually. Protection is the more immediately interesting case. The more public and notorious he becomes, the more loudly he claims scriptural and specifically Mormon support, the more likely a ‘protective’ excommunication becomes.

  64. Contrary to christiankimball, I think Sam’s analysis is quite correct. Let’s think of the reasons for excommunications not in terms of escalation or protection, but rather in terms of political versus non-political situations. Non-political excommunications are the vast majority of excommunications, usually for reasons involving sexual infidelity, but also because of things like theft or fraud. Non-political excommunications are generally not publicized and are relatively uncontroversial. However, when people are excommunicated for political reasons, the excommunication itself provokes publicity and controversy. Political boundary maintenance, which is accomplished through publicity, is a major reason for the excommunication.

    As I read it, Sam’s argument responds to the perception that liberals are being excommunicated for political reasons but conservatives are not. Sam’s argument, then, is a plea for doing away with excommunications as a tool for political boundary maintenance. I agree with his conclusions. There are much healthier ways for the Church to stake out its political positions than by tossing out troublemakers.

  65. never forget says:

    They are dragging down the good name of the Church with their actions. Of course they should be ex-commed. And it should be done before they open fire on federal agents or sheriff deputies.

  66. I am not sure I want a highly interventionist church on matters of member discipline. That has a real way of coming back to bite you.

  67. Hurrah for Steve Evans’ comment. Well thought out opinion.

  68. Does taking political action(s) that go against church teachings constitute grounds for discipline? In almost all cases the answer is no, as long as the actions stay in the political realm. The church has repeatedly counseled members in the intermountain west and occasionally elsewhere about going too far into anti-government or survivalist positions. Ammon and his brethren are a great example of taking this too far, but counseling is likely the most they will get unless things turn violent.
    johnf & others, President Obama is undisputedly a Kenyan and a Socialist in some ways, even though he is also an American citizen born in Hawaii.

  69. Sorry to go OT, but in the first comment (by APM at 8:35 am), the use of the phrase “soiled feminine hygiene product” as a derogatory metaphor for a person is really insulting to women. Don’t know if it violates the comment policy or not, but reading that phrase felt like a gut punch to me (a woman), enough that I felt I should mention it.

  70. Searching says:

    Kajabada, I totally agree. I second your opinion. Well stated.

  71. Molly Bennion says:

    Just read the post. Shocks me that it took 12 hours for someone (thank you, Kajabada, at 9 pm) to protest the appalling insult (soiled feminine hygiene product) to women in the first comment. Appalling. As for excommunication, if we believe it alters sacred family connections as well as opportunities to perfect the soul more easily, we should be extremely reluctant to use it.

  72. Looks like McNaughton’s already lionized Cliven Bundy. (http://www.jonmcnaughton.com/pray-for-america/) I would guess the paean to Ammon is in the works. The ignorance of this man is shocking. We should all be worried because he really does represent the views of a significant proportion of Mormons, as informed by decades of official and quasi-official political opinions of church leaders from the general authority level to local authorities.

    As was mentioned above, this really is just rural Western libertarianism married to and expressed in, or rather cloaked in, religious terminology — not specific to Mormons — but the problem is that since a number of prominent twentieth-century church leaders were raised in this rural Western libertarianism, they believed and taught that it was Gospel truth from the pulpit, apparently unable or unwilling to recognize a difference between their upbringing and political preferences/opinions, on the one hand, and Gospel truths, on the other. Instead they were conflated and taught as one and the same. “I was raised this way thinking X was right and true and the only right way to do anything, therefore it is the only wholesome, righteous way to be or do anything. If other people think other or different approaches are right or effective then they are not only wrong but are influenced by Satan if they disagree with my opinion about what is right and good and true based on the circumstances in which I was raised swimming in the prevailing currents of rural Western libertarianism that dominated my parents’ worldview and entirely pervaded the environment in which I grew up and which I equate with eternal truths.”

  73. Kajabada and Molly, agreed, that was out of line. I’ll edit the comment. I didn’t see it until you pointed it out.

  74. Tim Jones says:

    Yeah, McNaughton and those like him are sticking their fingers in their ears when it comes to the church’s response to the Ammon Bundy thing, at least given his latest Facebook post. He’s supporting Ammon Bundy, and, at this stage, not even acknowledging the church’s statement.

  75. I think he’s a Denver Snuffer supporter so it’s possible he thinks some current Church leadership, to the extent that he perceives they’ve strayed from Apostle Benson’s beliefs, are in apostasy, as Denver Snuffer does. So he might see the Newsroom statement as evidence of this apostasy.

  76. Edited. Thanks for pointing it out.

  77. Clark Goble says:

    John F (9:36) Do you have a source on that? If so, that’s pretty significant in the apostasy front.

    John F (8:42) While there are libertarian elements, I don’t think these people are libertarian. As many have noted they tend to like big government when it suits them. The weird thing about the constitutional point they raise is while there’s a good textual point there, this has been considered constitutional and used since basically the early days of the republic. It goes back at least to 1790. So there’s something odd going on that seems beyond libertarian spirit. Libertarians after all often are fine disagreeing with what is constitutional – whereas these groups put a naive and unexamined literalism to the perception of what the Founders wanted. It’s rather like how some read the Bible in fundamentalism while being ignorant of culture, context and even language. Yet there is that weird treating it like scripture. Weird to me since compromise can be inspired yet not be an ideal case we should seek after – the Law of Moses was inspired but was simultaneously a kind of pragmatic compromise by God given the realities of the people he was dealing with. No one would want to live the full books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy yet the Bradys and their associates (both Mormon or Protestant) seem to want to treat the “Constitution” differently.

    Certainly there are elements of these perhaps unhealthy veneration of the Founders in mainstream Mormonism. Likewise even in mainstream Mormonism I notice people (both on the left and right) not distinguishing well between what they want to be true and what is constitutional.

    Gerry (3:35) Speaking as someone raised in Royalist country in Nova Scotia (where many fled the rebellion and often persecution for supporting the crown) I think that’s a very interesting question. One can after all think a group of rebels are inspired while simultaneously thinking the appropriate activity for you is quite different. However say what you will about how many actually felt passionately about leaving the Crown in the late 18th century, it does seem a quite different situation from what the Brady’s are complaining about. After all even if they got their wish and the lands were turned over to Oregon rather than the Federal government that would almost certainly mean more not less regulation given the views of the majority of Oregan residents (who are quite liberal and quite unsympathetic to Brady’s views).

  78. Clark Goble says:

    Tom (5:58) I’ll avoid just repeating myself, since obviously I’m much more sympathetic to Christian’s views here. I also think it’s just wrong that liberals are facing excommunication while conservatives aren’t. I think it’s just that liberals notice slights against liberals. Everyone notices slights against the groups they self-identify with, often viewing them somewhat myopically. Typically they don’t notice groups they disagree with and their experiences.

    What was most fascinating to me was reading Twitter over the weekend. I have slightly more liberal people in my feed than conservative. Yet both were crying about hypocrisy from the other side over the Bundy situation. (Sorry – accidentally wrote Bradys in the above – thinking of the Brady bill for some strange reason) When you have a reasonable cross section of identity groups it’s often fascinating how they perceive how some event exemplifies their group or their nemesis.

    I recognize some people just don’t think church discipline is ever appropriate for even apostasy. I just can’t agree on that for a variety of reasons. But I’ll not belabor the point. It’s moot anyways since clearly the Church sees apostasy as a big deal regardless of what anyone thinks.

  79. Molly Bennion says:

    Thanks, Steve.

  80. Clark Goble says:

    To clarify, by “it’s just wrong that liberals are facing excommunication while conservatives aren’t” I mean I don’t think that claim is true. Not that it’s something happening but shouldn’t. I think the rates are likely different although it’s hard to know given most excommunications aren’t publicized. (And those liberal theologically seem much more inclined to take to publicize it in places where we’d likely see it)

  81. Excommunication matters to me because I believe in the Church’s truth claims, including that The Book of Mormon (I guess that’s the “magical book” you’re referring to?) is a collection of the writings of prophets who lived in ancient times and was translated by Joseph Smith through the gift and power of God.

    Because I believe these things (among many others about the truth of the Church), it is important to me that excommunication be used sparingly and conscientiously, and not as a political tool to make a petty point.

    [edit: haha — this comment was a direct response to a previous comment asking what was wrong with us for caring about excommunication from an obvious scam, by which the commenter meant the Church. Looks like a moderator deleted that comment, leaving mine hanging devoid of context. -john f.]

  82. BlueRidgeMormon says:

    I’m late to the party here, but I actually want to nitpick a side point that got made by Reese (10:42am). Reese closes the comment with: “Living in a Western state and having family in the ranching business, it’s actually quite terrible the way the BLM throws their weight around and Easterners stick there (sic) nose in places where they don’t belong.”

    I’m so tired of hearing this type of comment, as if the federal-lands-management issues out west are some sort of specially-justified grievance or something legitimate to be righteously indignant about. I think that’s pure poppycock. It’s a view that conflates proximity (and familiarity) with ownership. I mean, sure: I get that interactions/relations with a regulator can be a pain, and sometimes you can even get done wrong. (This is the case in any commercial industry or legislative context.) But just because something is a hassle to you doesn’t mean it’s always an example of tyranny or that it’s unconstitutional. It just means you don’t like the hassle. Cliven Bundy should pay his grazing fees, full stop. I mean look: I might think my state driver’s license fee is too high, but I can’t just refuse to pay it and cry “tyranny!” I’m amazed that apparently no one has the willingness to enforce a fine or an indictment against Bundy… what an embarrassment.

    Let’s also dispense with the oft-related demand to ‘return the federal lands to state control.’ (This is a corollary of any garden-variety ‘states rights’ argument; pick whichever one you’d like…) What is it that’s so magical about the imaginary state boundaries, versus the apparently-draconian Federal boundaries? I think these kinds of arguments/demands are always lazy arguments, and wither under scrutiny. (Or at least they should!) Is it just that Burns Oregon is so very very far away, geographically, from Washington DC? For starters, we live in a day and age when we don’t have to take a wagon train to get from DC to Oregon any more, which means that the time/distance issues fade, to a great extent. But maybe that’s not it; perhaps it’s just that states are just de facto “good” and anything bigger than a state is assumed to be overly bureaucratic and out of touch. But do the proponents of these kinds of arguments (presumably like Reese) not understand that state boundaries are imaginary and arbitrary? And even if they weren’t, retreating to your state wouldn’t solve all these problems; I’ve lived in five different states in which there were strong tensions between the more distant parts of the state and the state capitol or biggest metro area, similar to the state-vs-Fed tension. In other words, while we’re at it, why stop at the state border? Why not take the argument further, and argue that it’s COUNTIES that should really have the say, not faraway state capitols? Or maybe the counties would still be too large, and not “local” enough – – should every city and town be the real locus of decision making for land use and everything else? Let’s just keep going on this merry little infinite regress until we end up with strong borders (and associated sovereign decision making) at the backyard/property level. Whee!

    It’s obviously silly.

    The whole public lands thing serves as an excuse to dress up one’s frustration (real or theoretical) as something that looks like a more legitimate public policy gripe, but really isn’t. Plus, there’s the whole “public goods” and “tragedy of the commons” problem, which is one of the primary reasons we act collectively (as states, or nations) in the first place. In other words: Zion National Park still has value to me even though I don’t currently live in the state of Utah. Proximity isn’t the same thing as ownership.

    (BTW, I was born and raised in a federal-lands-dominated, non-Utah state in the intermountain west, so I’m not just an Easterner sticking my nose in a place that doesn’t belong…)

  83. Let’s just keep going on this merry little infinite regress until we end up with strong borders (and associated sovereign decision making) at the backyard/property level. Whee!

    That’s exactly what they want. Every property owner a law unto himself. True “freedom”. (cf. D&C 88:33-34)

  84. Clark Goble says:

    BlueRidgeMormon, I’m completely sympathetic to you regarding grazing fees which seem low to my eyes. However that’s just one of the concerns – often decisions are made without consulting locals. The problem is that how people view it now – with all federal land basically being viewed like park land – and the way it was before are radically at odds. Likewise people out east don’t typically realize just how much of the west is federal land which severely restricts what states can do in a way that’s just not present east of the Mississippi.

    Add in the fact that typically few live in these areas but those who do are basically at the whims of policy by people typically ignorant of the land and it’s easy to see why resentment happens. When you have been ranching on land for a century and it’s suddenly taken away in a manner you feel powerless it’s easy to understand the frustration.

    That doesn’t mean the federal government is wrong in its policies mind you. Although often I don’t think they consider the ramifications well. (Turning something into a national park doesn’t always protect it given that such parks tend to attract crowds. IMO what saved the San Raphael Swell was not being turned into a park.) Further, as I said, even if Bundy got his wish and the feds turned BLM land over to the states it’d be likely he’d be worse off and not better.

  85. “I did exactly what the Lord asked me to do,” Bundy said in a YouTube video posted last week in which he appeals to people to join him in Oregon to protest the treatment of the Hammonds.

  86. BlueRidgeMormon,
    “What is it that’s so magical about the imaginary state boundaries, versus the apparently-draconian Federal boundaries? I think these kinds of arguments/demands are always lazy arguments, and wither under scrutiny.”
    The big concern is not that the state boundary is a logical coherent sub-population (or geographic entity). The big concern is that the state and local government and the local population have very little control over the majority of “their” area. Historically, the public lands were controlled locally and usage was shared among local citizens. This was true even in eastern states, only there was much less public land by the time the feds asserted control. In western states, there was 50-80 years between first settlement (by US citizens) and the federalization of unimproved land. In the east, the time period was 100-200 years or more. Remote arid property could not be homesteaded in the time that it was available.
    If given more time like in the east, much more of this land would be in private or non-federal hands.
    Also, states are much more likely to allow ranching, mining, etc. on their land than certain federal administrations. CA is the only western state that has had government more to the left on environmental/land use issues than the federal government over the past 25 years. Any other state would have the “magical” quality of more allowance of land use for ranching.

  87. BlueRidgeMormon says:

    Clark, you say “those who [live there] are basically at the whims of policy by people typically ignorant of the land” – – and I essentially think this is a strawman. It makes for a good sound bite but I’m much less convinced it’s actually true most of the time. The notion of embedded, committed, long-term local “folks” clashing with out-of-touch clueless bureaucrats in DC is a romantic sounding conflict, but the reality is more complicated, and much less dramatic. Everyone I’ve ever met who works for the BLM is fiercely locally oriented: they tend to love the land they’re overseeing. And therefore, the conflict over that land’s use arises not from local vs. distant “interests” – that’s a figment of the Bundy’s imagination. Rather, the conflict is merely simple disputes/disagreement over what kind of use ought to be acceptable. The problem is, the discourse gets obscured behind the trumped up State-vs-Fed language, when the reality is much simpler: Bundy just wanted to graze in NV for free, that’s all. Well, I’d like a driver’s license for free, too. What irks me is the naked self-interest being dressed up as some lofty conflict that it’s really not.

    None of this is an argument that the Feds manage public lands WELL, of course. Maybe you’re right, and maybe they don’t. I haven’t weighed in on that, because it seems to me to be a different question. My point was simply that the conflict isn’t REALLY about that.

    By the way, thanks to Steve/Sam for allowing a little straying from the core topic of the OP.

  88. BlueRidgeMormon says:

    el oso, this is my very point. Oftentimes “state” and Fed interests about what the public lands should be used for are indeed in disharmony, as you point out. But it’s not obvious to me that the Fed perspective is always inherently draconian and unwanted, and the state perspective inherently justified. It can sometimes be the opposite. For instance, during my Utah years I was a local who wanted more Fed protection of public lands – – and some Utahns agreed, while others disagreed.

  89. I have to echo BlueRidgeMormon. The BLM, Forest Service etc folks I know tend to be locals or quickly become locals. And they go to great lengths to serve even the land users who don’t care in the slightest about my ability as another citizen to also use that land. The dirty secret is that in the West many of these “traditional” land uses are not even remotely sustainable without Federal dollars propping them up. Cattle ranching in the desert requires the BLM functioning as a welfare program in order for the activity to support anyone. The fees ranchers pay aren’t nearly enough to cover the costs of protecting the resource being used, which the wide expanses of sagebrush (rather than native grasses) demonstrate were not being cared for by these people’s forefathers when the government wasn’t so involved. And judging from the condition of state-run outdoor recreation facilities, no, I don’t want more state control.

  90. anonforthis says:

    BYU owns Lytle Ranch (actually a nature preserve) near St. George, Utah. A fence separates the preserve from nearby ranchland. It’s easy to see the impact cattle ranching has on the West by looking at the fenceline. One one side, wildflowers and a wide diversity of plant and animal life. On the other side, sage brush, no wildflowers, and very little diversity of plant life. The difference is night and day. Cattle and a healthy ecosystem can’t coexist in the same place. Of course, in areas like these, huge swaths of land are open to cattle, at a discount rate to the ranchers. Ranchers are getting a fantastic deal from the federal government–significantly cheaper than the prices private landowners charge for the use of land by cattle.

  91. Clark Goble says:

    BlueRidge, there’s no doubt that often the BLM does a good job. And I don’t want to obscure that. However when political pressure comes down from other figures that doesn’t matter. Please note I’m *not* saying the Budys are right. I am saying the frustration of many in the west is understandable. But heck, if I got what I wanted with BLM land Bundy would be far less happy.

    However the types of things many complain about are often tied up to environmental regulation that can often completely change how the land is used. To portray this as if they are just abusing the land (although heaven knows that happens) is pretty misleading.

    As others note, the question of “local” can be misleading and there are conflicting local voices. However it’s not hard to find significant changes in land and old time locals getting quite upset. And not just with restricting land use. I know of plenty of locals up in Montana not happy at all with oil interests coming in the last decade or so. So it’s not like this is just “let ranchers and miners have their way.”

  92. Clark Goble says:

    To add, the real issue is multiuser land. There are dueling use issues and the lack of private land makes a lot of these battles even more extreme than they would be in areas where land is owned.

  93. I agree with the comments from

    it’s a series of tubes at
    January 5, 2016 at 9:40 am

    and

    The Other Brother Jones at
    January 5, 2016 at 9:45 am

  94. BlueRidgeMormon says:

    Disputes about the proper use of public lands are as old as the hills, and there’s no indication that (for instance) ranchers’ interests and outdoor enthusiasts’ interests are going to align anytime soon. I think we all acknowledge that. Personally, as an outdoor enthusiast, I’m more in the “get cattle off my public lands” camp, but I recognize that ranching families are going to have a different view. And these competing views simply disagree. In some jurisdictions, the ranch interest win out, whereas in others, the wilderness/preservationist interest win out.

    But my point was never to argue that perspective. My point is simply that the effort to disguise these disagreements as a “federal vs state” tyranny dispute is a total red herring, and a lazy argument. These are legitimate, real disputes – – but I think they’re rarely literally about some nefarious government overreach. That’s just a convenience argument trotted out if you happen to not like what the governing agency is doing. And in my view, people like the Bundy’s are simply appropriating the argument for a much simpler purpose: furthering their own self interest. It’s one thing to have a contest of ideas and grapple with how to properly use a particular piece of public land. It’s another thing altogether to take the position – if you’re on the ‘losing’ side – of saying “screw you, I’m just going to do what I want anyway, and pretend that it’s patriotic to do so.” I get bugged that hordes of people seem to get taken in by the idea that the Burns Oregon struggle is about some larger principle, and I’d be happier if all the parties were just honest about it and said “I think the land ought to be used for this” and “I think the land ought to be used for that.” Pretending it’s about Federal vs State sovereignty just obscures, rather than clarifies.

  95. the swami with the salami says:

    We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

    Obviously this Ammon fellow is the Son of God and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is the New Jerusalem. Oh, and guns because, you know, guns!

    bang bang bang

  96. Clark Goble says:

    Blue Ridge, I fully agree with that. Bundy have convinced himself that the state would do a better job than the feds. As I’ve said Oregon would almost certainly pick policies he’d disagree with even more than the federal ones. I suspect Nevada would as well.

  97. John Mansfield says:

    When 87% of a state’s land is federal property, as is the case for Nevada, then every major land-use issue is a federal matter. There have been efforts over the last few years to build a new campus for UNLV on the north end of the Las Vegas valley. Of course, the proposed site is federal land; there isn’t any other kind. De-federalization of any land requires an act of Congress, so a necessary step in moving the campus is plying a bill through House and Senate committees. Pahrump, another valley 60 miles to the west, is going through the same thing for a community college campus. The cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas have their own bills in the works to add 660 acres to Las Vegas and 645 acres to North Las Vegas. There was something of this sort going on for some land development north of Mesquite. All of these land-use issues, which would be complicated decisions with many interests to be balanced in any state, always in Nevada have the added complication of being federal issues subject to a national political process. On the national level, the needs or wishes of UNLV, let alone the Great Basin College Pahrump Campus, are very unimportant, and it is not a good thing that they have to be presented to the U.S. Congress, and then mixed into all the national politics of passing bills.

  98. Clark Goble says:

    John, I think that’s right but that tends to be not what all the people upset are upset at. I agree it’s a big issue. However the people upset at BLM regulations also tend to lump it in with environmental regulations that apply to private land as much as BLM land. They have an overly romanticized view of the past when the government largely ignored what they did.

  99. John Mansfield says:

    Environmental regulation can play a large role in what property owners can do with their property, but even that is a smaller thing to work with than the federal government controlling as owner what can be done with its property. I’m thinking particularly of the closing of roads that was going on fifteen years back.

  100. Neither Bundy nor the other LDS persons involved should face excommunication any more than Helmuth Huberner should have.

    While the 12th AoF would make one think they are acting out of line, the more expounded D&C 134 says they are not… “We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected,”

    Many in and out of the church see that we are not being protected in our inherent and inalienable rights, and therefore sedition and rebellion ARE becoming upon every citizen. Some don’t see it that way, but as time passes and it becomes more and more obvious more and more will view the action taken in Oregon as necessary and reasonable.

    The mistake the group made was in tying themselves to the church by use of scripture unique to us. The church doesn’t support them; and in my opinion shouldn’t condemn them either.

  101. therefore sedition and rebellion ARE becoming upon every citizen.

    Now that is crazy.

  102. Clark Goble says:

    The mistake the group made was taking over a building, stealing truck and bringing guns into it. Had they simply had a peaceful sit in somewhere else I don’t think they’d have the same problems. Now they’re going to end up going to jail.

  103. Clark… I was talking solely in regards to mistakes that could cost them their church membership… it was the invoking of LDS scripture that caused the problem with the church. Other “mistakes” are open for debate, but as Sam mentioned, should be taken to another area of the internet.

  104. Tim Jones says:

    Comparing the U.S. government to the Nazis and the peaceful Helmuth Huebener (not “Huberner”) to these armed thugs? Really?

  105. I agree Tim, it really strains credulity that this is how these people think. They are NOT Helmuth Huebener, and no matter how much they hate the Kenyan Muslim Socialist President Obama, neither he nor the US government can in any way be compared to Hitler or the Nazi regime. It’s shocking ignorance and ideological hatemongering.

  106. Most likely the Bundy family will end up in a church court. These things take a while. It’s interesting to observe how if you go to far left or right folks end to drift into trouble.

  107. Tend

    Stupid phone….

  108. The trouble with excommunication in this instance is that it may have already taken place and, because the LDS Church (in most instances) does not comment on excommunications publicly, you would never know. Why? Because it wouldn’t be in the Bundys’ interest to acknowledge it. Which is why I don’t quite believe the “more excommunications for liberals vs. conservatives” line of reasoning, exactly. It was (and is) in Dehlin’s and Kelly’s interest to publicize their rift with the LDS Church. It isn’t in the Bundys’ interest, because a lot of their rhetoric depends on conservative (read: Skousen and Benson) LDS views. Good conservative Mormons aren’t going to follow known apostates, and the Bundys know it. Along the same lines, I’ve heard grapevine mutterings that the elder of Utah’s two embattled former attorneys general was excommunicated near the beginning of his legal troubles (for unrelated transgressions); but it certainly won’t help his defense in Utah if that becomes public knowledge. So: even if Ammon and pals end up facing and being convicted of federal felonies, there’s a good chance that their (automatic) excommunications for those felonies won’t be acknowledged until and unless they see a political or personal advantage in it.