Many have contacted HAH for comments concerning the situation that developed in Murdock, MN (United States).
The quick synopsis:
The Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) purchased a church building (formerly Lutheran Church) in Murdock, MN back in July 2020.
After the church fell into disuse, Murdock rezoned it for residential use. This meant that should it be used for any religious service again, that a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) be granted to whichever religious group moved in next.
When news reached Murdock that the AFA are a recognized hate group by the SPLC, locals began to campaign against their presence; urging city council to not grant the permit.
On December 9th, city council ruled in favor of granting the permit in a decision of 3-1.
As this situation developed over the course of these past months, we at HAH have been in direct contact with several Murdock residents through phone calls and social media.
Additionally, we have given statements and interviews to both local and national news outlets (see links below). In addition to engaging the residents of Murdock, HAH has been fortunate in speaking with and enlisting the support of the local Minnesota Heathen community; members of which drove down to Murdock to support the local protest on the day of the vote.
We were in attendance during the vote; which was held over Zoom. Tensions were and remain high concerning the outcome, but it is important to understand that while we (and many others) are disappointed or even angry at the city council’s decision, that our main fight is with the AFA. The CUP is an annual agreement, up for revision per annum; and so we will continue to support the city of Murdock in the coming year to challenge the AFA and prevent another CUP from being issued.
Many have claimed this to be a First Amendment issue, and that under RLUIPA (The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act) the city of Murdock had no choice but to grant the permit. However in reality, no one is entitled to a Conditional Use Permit, regardless religion.
The mayor of Murdock stated that this was strictly a zoning issue, and while that may also be a soft approach to an otherwise volatile group and situation, we must remain focused on the issue of the AFA and their presence; and not attack the city council on their decision.
What Do We Do Now?
Heathens Against Hate continues to remain in constant contact with Murdock residents and local activists. We will hold space (virtually for the time being) for anyone in Murdock who wishes to better understand Heathenry and the differences between our religious beliefs and extremist views.
We encourage all who encounter this and similar stories in the media to comment on them and include resources regarding inclusive Heathenry and the means of practicing Ásatrú devoid of extremist rhetoric espoused by the AFA.
Furthermore, support communities which have been adversely affected by the AFA. Continuously campaign in proper information about our faith, not just to educate for Heathen sake, but for the sake of a community in danger of extremist recruitment.
We in Heathens Against Hate strongly believe in that Heathen axiom: “We are our deeds”.
We will continue to not only to denounce the vile ideology of the AFA, but will through just and noble action stand in strong solidarity with the community of Murdock, Minnesota in this trying and troubled time.
News Coverage: Washington Post