Ammon Bundy’s militia has occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon since January 2. The standoff with authorities continues despite the arrest of Bundy and 11 of his followers and the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum during a traffic stop last week, and despite Bundy’s pleas that the four remaining militia members leave the refuge. They insist that they will not leave until their comrades are released and everyone is pardoned. These conservative Mormons have claimed that God told them to seize the land in defense of ranchers sentenced to jail time for setting fires on federal land.
We are endlessly being misdirected in search of the crude “hate crime.” After centuries of racial oppression and violence, our society eventually became uncomfortable with the overtness of the racism of the past. Slavery is taken for granted as a horrific thing, something that couldn’t be assumed a few generations ago. For mainstream America, to be accused of being racist is to have been labeled something despicable. Few would willingly accept this charge upon themselves, defending themselves adamantly against such accusations. However, even worse than the racist label for those within the dominant culture, is for a person to be accused of a hate crime. Hate crimes have been created to isolate the most heinous of offenses that have been committed because of prejudice.
Catherine Brekus introduces us to a disturbing, heartbreaking and improbably inspiring life. Sarah Osborn’s early years were an unending series of afflictions made worse by the austere Calvinism of her family and church. Born in England in 1714, Sarah emigrated to America with her parents, who settled in Rhode Island.
This new blog feature harnesses the expertise of American religious historians who care about the cities of God and the cities of humans. It’s a space where scholarly expertise collides with the faith, hope and love of those of us who seek thoughtful reflection about our pasts to bear upon the confusing issues of our presents.