What is the Asatru Folk Assembly? How racist group that worships Norse gods got permit for ‘Whites-only’ church
Obviously, 2020 isn't done throwing curveballs our way. The Asatru Folk Assembly that is reportedly the US'slargest neo-Völkisch hate group has just got permission for a 'Whites-only' church in a small Minnesotan town. The town of Murdock's city council voted 3-1 last week to grant a "conditional use permit" to the group that practices a pre-Christian 'folk' religion that worships Norse gods. The group bought an old abandoned Lutheran church in the small town, with fewer than 300 residents, as a regional gathering place for its followers in June 2020. After renovations, when the church opens its doors, only Whites will be allowed to enter.
"We as the leaders of the City of Murdock want it to be known that the City of Murdock condemns racism in all of its forms: Conscious, Unconscious, any place, any time, now and in the future," Mayor Craig Kavanagh said in the meeting called on December 23. "We are committed to building a community that promotes equal justice and opportunity to every single person regardless of their race," he added to reassure town's residents who have launched an online petition that has attracted over 50,000 signatures to stop the all-White church from making its home in the farming community of 280 people.
However, Kavanagh also emailed to press outlets about the decision, saying: "This vote was about a zoning permit to let an old abandoned church be used for exactly what it was built for... Now I understand the beliefs of who will be using the church are much different from one another, but that is every person's 1st amendment right according to the Constitution" Simply put, the council is defending its actions because it cannot afford the expensive legal battle were they to oppose the group.
As followers of a religious organization, Asatru Folk Assembly members' speech is protected by the First Amendment and they are free to practice their faith — whatever it might be. This is what also protects other newly-minted religions mired in controversy like the 'Church of Scientology', started by Ron Hubbard in 1986. The AFA includes in its statement of ethics the following: "We in Asatru support strong, healthy White family relationships. We want our children to grow up to be mothers and fathers to White children of their own. We believe that those activities and behaviors supportive of the White family should be encouraged while those activities and behaviors destructive of the White family are to be discouraged."
The organization's Declaration of Purpose also states: "If the Ethnic European Folk cease to exist, Asatru would likewise no longer exist. Let us be clear: by Ethnic European Folk we mean White people. Asatru is not just what we believe, it is what we are. Therefore, the survival and welfare of the Ethnic European Folk as a cultural and biological group is a religious imperative for the AFA." The term "Asatru" refers to the religion of the Vikings who worshipped gods like Thor and Odin. The pagan religion of the original settlers of Iceland was abandoned in favor of Christianity in the year 1000, was re-recognized in 1973, and is now also Iceland's fastest-growing religion.