Well, at least according to Cliven.
He is now claiming that he was operating under personal direction from God when he refused to submit to the legal authority of the United States Government and began a tense standoff between the BLM and hundreds of armed militia in the Nevada desert.
Bundy told the St. George Spectrum, “The Lord told me . . . if (the local sheriff doesn’t) take away these arms from federal agents, we the people will have to face these arms in a civil war. He said, ‘This is your chance to straighten this thing up.”
He’s been working the media circuit with this new claim. The federal government has said they intend to prosecute Bundy to the full extent of the law and it appears as though he is hoping to pull out a Hobby Lobby-style defense to justify his decades-long illegal activity.
While it is a somewhat unexpected angle to this whole story, it’s hard to give him any credit for originality because we’ve seen this before. Breaking the law, threatening the safety and security of others—rationalized and protected, or so they hope, by the cloak of religious zealotry.
Bundy needs to remember that this strategy never ends well.
We’ve had our share of religious opposition to the government. From the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas to the Weaver’s in Ruby Ridge, Idaho to the Singer/Swapp clan in our own Marion, Utah. In every scenario they have claimed it their religious right to flout the law, put safety and security of others at risk, and in every case someone has paid the ultimate price.
Bundy was lucky. Bunkersville, NV could have easily landed on that same list but for the caution of the BLM officials who decided to stand down rather than risk what could have been a very deadly escalation. The militia was ready and willing, thankfully the BLM was not.
Cliven Bundy is LDS but at the very core of that religion is a list of 13 guiding principles or summations of belief called the Articles of Faith. The twelfth in that list reads, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” Perhaps he missed that Sunday School lesson.
Simply put, Bundy’s “God told me so” claims are a cop out, a diversion tactic he hopes will rally supporters and dissuade the Feds. But Bundy isn’t being oppressed. His religious freedoms aren’t in jeopardy. Yank back his religious cloak and you’ll find a selfish rancher who decided long ago that he wanted to ignore the law, that he was entitled to something for nothing.
Bundy may claim divine direction but this is a path Bundy rides alone.