Bundy: Showdown with feds a spiritual battle

STG 0803 bundy 02.jpgThe Spectrum – by Kevin Jenkins

Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy told members of the Independent American Party gathered to hear him Saturday that the April confrontation between his family, federal agencies and Bundy’s armed militia supporters was part of an age-old battle between good and evil.

“There was people from almost every state in this United States was there. Some of them told me they’d traveled for 40 hours to get there,” Bundy said in the common language of a man who has spent his life and livelihood in the Silver State’s desert climate. “Why did they come? … Because they felt like they needed to. They was spiritually touched.”  

Bundy’s comments capped a day-long summit in which members of the “non-party” political party listened to speeches about subjects ranging from the dangers of antidepressant drugs to the dangers of the Common Core educational standards initiative.

The socially conservative IAP encourages members to reject the Republican and Democratic Party’s “duopoly” and vote for candidates based on their individual qualifications rather than a party affiliation — especially outside Utah and New Mexico, the only states to formally recognize the IAP, and Arizona and Oregon, in which the IAP enjoys other-party affiliation.

National Chairman Kelly Gneiting, of Arizona, estimated 100 to 120 people attended the summit at St. George’s Lexington Hotel. Bundy and former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, a popular author on constitutional issues, questioned why more people weren’t present in the largely full convention hall.

“Where is all of your college students? Where’s our young and where’s our old? Where’s our black and where’s our brown?” Bundy asked. “Where are you people? Aren’t you interested in freedom and liberty? I’m not here to talk to a club.”

Rob Raegle said he traveled from California to the event after seeing a Facebook post mentioning the summit’s agenda. Although not a member of the IAP, he was interested in seeing what the party is about, he said.

The disagreement with federal officials over whether Bundy has a right to graze his cattle on “public” lands without paying government fees remained the focus of the summit’s finale, but much of the dialogue delved into spiritual influences.

The IAP draws much of its inspiration from statements made by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the majority of its members are LDS and Utah residents, although Gneiting said the party is not about doctrines specific to the Mormon religion or any other faith that believes in the biblical “providence of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

The LDS church does not endorse any political party, although its Utah members are heavily conservative and Republican.

Even so, Bundy’s and Mack’s comments were largely couched in the language of the believer and the gathering at times took on the spirit of a revival.

“If our (U.S.) Constitution is an inspired document by our Lord Jesus Christ, then isn’t it scripture?” he asked.

“Yes,” a chorus of voices replied.

“Isn’t it the same as the Book of Mormon and the Bible?” Bundy asked.

“Absolutely,” the audience answered.

Bundy’s daughter-in-law, Briana, spoke of how the members of the family fasted and prayed for the spirit of their forefathers to be with them as they prepared on horseback to defy the Bureau of Land Management’s efforts to impound cattle deemed to be “trespassing” on federal lands.

The Bundys pointed out that the family was unarmed when the initial confrontation with federal agents turned violent, and Mack referred to a Book of Mormon account of women “softening the hearts” of a militant enemy in praising Bundy’s daughters and daughters-in-law for helping to bring about a peaceful resolution.

“If the standoff with the Bundys was wrong, would the Lord have been with us?” Bundy asked, noting that no one was killed as tensions escalated. “Could those people that stood without fear and went through that spiritual experience … have done that without the Lord being there? No they couldn’t.”

Bundy also cited personal inspiration from God in establishing his course of action.

“The Lord told me … if (the 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,'” Bundy said.

Follow Kevin Jenkins on Twitter, @SpectrumJenkins.


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