A western Minnesota city is expected to decide Wednesday whether to allow what's been identified as a pagan white supremacist group to open a gathering place in town.
Murdock City Council will hold a public hearing and is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to grant a conditional use permit to the Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA), which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a Neo-Volkisch hate group that believes in the need for micro-societies to "preserve their ethnicity and combat alleged white genocide."
The AFA, which calls itself a Nordic heritage group, bought the former 120-year-old Calvary Lutheran Church over the summer and is seeking to get the property rezoned from residential use to place of assembly.
The group's plan is to turn the property into a gathering place, called the Baldurshof: Third Hof, to serve people from across the Midwest for worship, fellowship and celebration, according to AFA's website. The plan was to dedicate the Third Hof in November, but the group posted on Facebook on Oct. 6 saying the event has been pushed to late February.
Since news broke that AFA planned to open a gathering place in Murdock, there's been a push from concerned residents to make sure the group doesn't get the proper permits.
Residents formed the Murdock Area Alliance Against Hate to share their concerns about the AFA, the West Central Tribune reported. The group of more than a dozen people held a quiet candlelight vigil outside the Third Hof in September to bring attention to AFA.
And the Murdock Area Alliance Against Hate will be at Wednesday's meeting to "help the City Council members recognize the inherent dangers of allowing a white supremacist group to use a residentially zoned property as a place of assembly in our small town," a Facebook post from the group said.
Victoria Guillemard, a Murdock resident and organizer of the Murdock Area Alliance Against Hate, told the Star Tribune that not only are they against having a group that could spread messages of racism in the area, but the small town of 275 people doesn't have a police department or the infrastructure to handle a place that could draw groups of people from hundreds of miles away.
The Murdock City Council meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
What is the Asatru Folk Assembly?
The AFA says it believes in "an expression of the native, pre-Christian spirituality of Europe," with its Statement of Ethics explicitly calling for the preservation of white families, saying it supports "strong, healthy white family relationships" and wants its members to grow up to have "white children of their own."
The Statement of Ethics also says AFA's members should be ready for the challenge to defend "our folk" with "both cunning and physical skill when needed" and be prepared to "stand against those forces" that seek to destroy them.
Want to know more? An opinion piece, written by Nina Clark and published by MinnPost on Tuesday, looks at Minnesota's Nordic history and groups like AFA that use Nordic heritage as weapons against people of color, with Clark saying people shouldn't ignore the misuse of history, but should "hold it up for study." Have a read of it here.
As of 2019, there were at least two AFA groups established in Minnesota – one in Bloomington and one in Newport, the SPLC said.