Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy says it was a “spiritual experience” –– good versus evil ––when he and his armed militia supporters stood up to federal agents in the celebrated April standoff that many say has buoyed the extremist movement.
Bundy, in one of his first public speeches since the stand-off, spoke last weekend in St. George, Utah, to members of the Independent American Party, described as a political group of ultra-conservatives who mock both the Republican and Democratic parties.
“If the standoff with the Bundys was wrong, would the Lord have been with us?’’ Bundy told the gathering, according to The Spectrum. “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 cited “personal inspiration from God in establishing his course of action,” the newspaper reported.
“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," Bundy told the crowd.
Bundy, a Mormon, likened the U.S. Constitution to the Book of Mormon and the Bible.
“If our [U.S.] Constitution is an inspired document by our Lord Jesus Christ, then isn't it scripture?” Bundy asked the crowd, according to the St. George newspaper.
“Yes,” responded the audience. “Isn't it the same as the Book of Mormon and the Bible?” Bundy asked.
“Absolutely,” the audience responded.
While Bundy may view the standoff at his ranch as a spiritual experience, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice are looking at the event for possible violations of federal law. No charges have been filed, but investigators reportedly are scrutinizing Bundy’s supporters –– many of them armed with assault rifles –– who pointed their weapons at Bureau of Land Management agents.
It wasn’t clear how many of those who showed up for the weekend IAP gathering also had traveled to Bundy’s ranch in April. But Bundy was still basking in the spotlight in St. George.
“There was [sic] people from almost every state in this United States,” the newspaper quoted Bundy as telling the IAP crowd. “Why did they come? … Because they felt like they needed to. They was [sic] spiritually touched.”
The newspaper reported that the Independent American Party (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.
National Chairman Kelly Gneiting, of Arizona, although said IAP “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 newspaper reported.
The LDS church doesn’t endorse any political party, although its Utah members are “heavily conservative and Republican,” the newspaper reported.
Bundy shared the stage with former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, a leading figure in the antigovernment, Patriot movement who heads the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. Mack and a rag-tag group of militia and Oathkeepers groups from throughout the United States showed up for the April stand-off at Bundy’s ranch, near Bunkerville, Nev.
National IAP Chairman Kelly Gneiting, of Arizona, estimated 100 to 120 people attended the weekend summit where topics ranged from anti-depressant drugs to the dangers of the Common Core educational standards initiative.
Bundy and Mack both questioned why more people didn’t show up for the IAP gathering.
“Where is [sic] 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.”