Having spent some time in Alberta’s northern climes, we’ve taken an unusually keen interest in the arrest of Wiebo Ludwig, a religious patriarch with a Luddite streak a mile wide. Having served time for vandalizing oil-industry equipment in the past, Ludwig recently presented himself as man capable of coaxing a fellow pipeline bomber into giving up his detonators. Now he stands accused of actually being that bomber, a charge that really doesn’t surprise us in the least given what we learned about Ludwig in this memorable Outside profile from a dozen years ago. The whole thing is worth a close read, especially if you share our interest in religious sects that purport to be living a truly Biblical lifestyle. But it’s this chilling passage that does the best job of summing up the patriarch’s rage:
I felt as though drafts of disorienting vapors had been released into the sun-drenched room. At one moment I thought I was sitting among a group of likable, harmless eccentrics who were giddy with the notion of naughty play; at the next moment I thought that this band of freshly minted green warriors was just desperate and disheveled enough to maim someone. “Blood has already been shed by the industry,” said Wiebo, with well-received bluster. “More blood is going to be shed sooner or later. It’s entirely justifiable.” Bryzgorni gazed at the crumbs on his cake plate and said, “We’ve got no choice. They’re choking us.”
Wiebo thrives under a siege mentality, and his family can be seen walking in lockstep directly behind him, straight into the heart of impending crisis. That is Wiebo’s way. “Will we risk being hated by men for the sake of the gospel?” he asks me, as if I’d know. “Do we fear men or God?”
We wonder if Ludwig ever questions his decision to be so open with the media. Then again, many reporters have given him sympathetic treatment, charmed by both his jocular manner and homemade cranberry wine. We’re sure the Canadian journalists don’t receive similar hospitality in Bountiful.