The Asatru Folk Assembly in Murdock, Minnesota was granted a conditional use permit to open a church there where only white people will be allowed.
The Asatru Folk Assembly is a pre-Christian religion that has origins in northern Europe. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the group as a “neo-Volkisch hate group” that expresses “their bigotry in baseless claims of bloodlines grounding the superiority of one’s white identity.”
Murdock residents, however, are staunchly opposed to the group opening a church in their town. “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,” longtime resident Peter Kennedy told NBC News. “Racism is not welcome here.”
An online petition to stop the church from setting up in the farming town has already received 50,000.
Murdock locals do support a growing Latino population, who’ve made their way to the town in the last ten years for job opportunities.
“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 a nearby area of De Graff, wrote on the Murdock city Facebook page.
Allen Turnage, a board member of the church insists the group isn’t racist. “We’re not. It’s just simply not true,” he said. It’s unclear how many members the group has worldwide, but the city said they approved the permit in light of a potentially costly legal battle.
“We were highly advised by our attorney to pass this permit for legal reasons to protect First Amendment rights,” Murdock 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.”
Some residents are okay with the church making its home in Murdock, on the basis of being open-minded.
For now, the church has permission to move forward with opening its doors to only white people.
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