Minnesota Town Has Whites-Only Permit Is Approved

The Asatru Folk Assembly in Murdock, Minnesota is sending a powerful message to its residents: only white people are allowed to pray.

According to a NBC News report, the town’s council granted a permit for a church to open and practice its pre-Christian religion which originated in northern Europe and bans Black people from practicing it.

Despite a council vote officially approving the permit, residents are pushing back and so far 50,000 signatures have been collected as part of an online petition to stop the all-white church from making its home in the town of only 280 people.

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“I think they thought they could fly under the radar in a small town like this, but we’d like to keep the pressure on them,” said Peter Kennedy, a longtime Murdock resident, according to NBC News. “Racism is not welcome here.”

Many people from the area also say they support the growing Latinx population, which has increased in the area over the past decade.

“Just because the council gave them a conditional permit does not mean that the town and people in the area surrounding will not be vigilant in watching and protecting our area,” Jean Lesteberg, who lives in the neighboring town of De Graff, wrote on the city’s Facebook page.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Asatru Folk Assembly as a “neo-Volkisch hate group” that defends “their bigotry in baseless claims of bloodlines grounding the superiority of one’s white identity.” It’s a characterization church members deny.

“We’re not. It’s just simply not true,” said Allen Turnage, a Folk Assembly board member, according to NBC News. “Just because we respect our own culture, that doesn’t mean we are denigrating someone else’s.”

The Brownsville, California-based group says their teachings and membership are strictly for those of pure European bloodlines.

“We do not need salvation. All we need is freedom to face our destiny with courage and honor,” the group wrote on its website about their beliefs. “We honor the Gods under the names given to them by our Germanic/Norse ancestors.”

Murdock council members said they’re against the church but were legally obligated to approve the permit, doing so in a 3-1 vote.

“We were highly advised by our attorney to pass this permit for legal reasons to protect the First Amendment rights,” Mayor Craig Kavanagh said. “We knew that if this was going to be denied, we were going to have a legal battle on our hands that could be pretty expensive.”

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