Ammon (pictured) and Ryan Bundy, who are Mormons, are leading the organized militia group of who have occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, but the church issued a statement strongly condemning their actions.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement Monday:
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.
The family at the center of the dispute.
Dwight Lincoln Hammond, Jr., 73, and his son, Steven Dwight Hammond, 46, were both convicted of arson after setting a series of fires on lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), on which the Hammonds had grazing rights leased to them for their cattle operation. In total, 139 acres of land was consumed.
The Hammonds were convicted of setting fires on federal properties in Oregon. Dwight Hammond served three months and his son served a year, but a judge now has ruled their federal sentences violated minimum guidelines and ordered them back to prison for another four years.
By law, the Hammonds should have served a five year sentence and they returned to prison without incident Monday to serve the remaining time.
The Hammonds want no part of the potentially volatile situation which the militia members and the Bundys initiated. The church has now strongly condemned their actions, as well as the Sheriff in that county.
And the Bundys are devout Mormons.
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