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Armed militant groups occupy federal land, attend a local church service

Armed militant groups occupy federal land, attend a local church service

Photo from a happier time at St. Andrew’s Episcopal/Peace Lutheran/Living Waters Mission depicting visit of Rt. Rev. Nedi Rivera of Oregon celebrating the Eucharist with Pastor Matt Litau

In Burns, Oregon, a self-styled militia has used weapons and threats of violence to occupy federal land which was originally set aside for the Northern Paiute tribe but later turned into the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Many of the militants have used violent language, expressing a preference to die in combat instead of a peaceful resolution, and at least one member has attended a church service at a nearby Episcopal/Lutheran community church.

The Daily Office reports that the Pastor of St. Andrew’s Episcopal/Peace Lutheran/Living Waters Mission preached a sermon criticizing the use of guns against other humans which resulted in one of the would-be militiamen leaving the church. The Pastor reported a level of fear and nervousness around strangers which is unusual for the church, and asked that others pray for their safety and a speedy resolution to the occupation.

Sons of Cliven Bundy–the rancher who owes back money for grazing privileges to the Federal Government–became involved ostensibly to protest the sentences that a father and son rancher received for a confessed case of arson on federal lands. The ranchers claimed they were protecting their property, but the federal government charged that they were covering up evidence of poaching. A local sheriff claims that the group is really seeking to spread anti-Federalist sentiment by escalating conflicts with the Federal government, and used the protests as a convenient staging ground for their action.

Ammon Bundy, son of Cliven, claims that they are not damaging the property and are trying to ensure that it can be used by local ranchers, hunters, and other citizens, arguing that the Federal government is misusing public lands. This claim has been dismissed as ‘ironic’ by native groups who point out that the original owners are the Northern Paiute tribe, whose property has been reduced from over 1 million acres to less than 750 acres.

This latest incident of armed action takes place while President Obama is trying to prepare an executive action on gun control following indecision and inaction by the Congress. Obama will attend a one-hour town hall in Fairfax, Virginia this Thursday, where he will answer audience questions and discuss guns with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Do you think this latest incident will have an impact on Obama’s plans? How would you respond if militants attended services in your church?


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JoS. S. Laughon

A homily on Romans 13 would be more than apt.

Or preferably borrow a line from the Morning Prayer Litany

From all sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion; from all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word and Commandment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

Frank Lockwood

I definitely would require them to leave their guns in the foyer. If I remember my Gunsmoke correctly, even n the wild West they required the cowboys to leave their guns at the entrance to the saloons!

David Allen

That may just have been Gunsmoke, I’ve seen a lot of Westerns where someone was shoot in a saloon by someone with a gun. Or a standoff where two sides with similar numbers of members are all pointing guns at one another.

Curtis Pullin

I wish to thank the pastor for addressing the issue of gun violence. The man in question needed to be given a Christian perspective on how to solve political disagreements.

JC Fisher

Why do I have a feeling that if the Paiutes had chosen to occupy the Wildlife Refuge hq, the Bundys would not have arrived, armed&willing, to help them? Apparently “sovereignty” is only for white latecomers…

Prayers for peace.

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