Residents of a small town in Minnesota packed a town hall to express opposition to a pagan Nordic heritage group that had plans to move into an abandoned church, numerous sources reported.
The Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) sought a permit to turn an abandoned Lutheran church it bought in Murdock into its Midwest regional gathering hall, the Associated Press reported. Nearly 50 people in the town of 275 filled the town hall in opposition of the permit request.
A big crowd in a western Minnesota town comes to a special meeting to grill the representative of a controversial Nordic heritage church looking to setup a Midwest regional gathering hall there. https://t.co/OC1Jk9YbNL
— Star Tribune (@StarTribune) October 15, 2020
The group is pre-Christian and practices a northern European pagan religion, using Nordic imagery to recruit members. Its founder, Stephen McNallen, has said white people have a responsibility to protect the white race, according to the West Central Tribune, citing a 2017 YouTube video. Although the AFA denies being racist, the group’s leader Matthew Flavel spoke at a 2018 event that celebrated the birthday of George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party, and described the assembly as a “white man’s religion,” according to West Central Tribune.
“We in Asatru support strong, healthy white family relationships,” according to the AFA’s statement of ethics. “We want our children to grow up to be mothers and fathers to white children of their own.
“We don’t want to be known as the hate capital of Minnesota,” Murdock resident Pete Kennedy said, according to the Star Tribune.
AFA’s board member Allen Turnage told the town hall crowd that the group would not admit a black person “because they’re not of northern European descent,” according to the AP. He also said the AFA has about 500 members nationwide, and roughly 20 or so in and around Minnesota. (RELATED: How Christianity And Paganism Collide In Halloween)
“A hundred thousand years from now, I want there to be blond hair and blue eyes,” Turnage said. “I don’t have to be a German shepherd supremacist to want there to be German shepherds.”
Turnage said his group has been lied about, and that they make “good neighbors,” due in part to being “less intrusive than a traditional church.”
The introduction of the AFA is especially unwelcome by many residents given the growth of the Hispanic and Somali population in the region, who work at dairy farms and meat packing plants.
“We just don’t need this crap out here,” Kennedy told Star Tribune in July. “What other religion in the world makes a big deal out of the color of your skin? “Maybe the real face of racism is coming to meet us face to face in Murdock.”
The FBI arrested two Virginia men in 2015 accused of plotting to bomb a church in order to start a “race war,” both of which ascribed to a “white supremacy version of the Asatru faith,” according to NBC 12. Bryan Wilson, a member of the Pagan faith, said that “this is not the Asatru. We don’t preach hatred,” NBC 12 reported.
2 Charged in Alleged Plot to Attack Synagogues, Churches – Robert Doyle and Ronald Chaney III were charged in V… https://t.co/TwpztDX48k
— BET News (@BETNews) November 11, 2015