Wyrd Words: Drawing the Line (Revisited)

Greetings, and welcome back to Wyrd Words. Keeping the Thor in Thursdays, every other week here on Agora!

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my recent experience with the racist elements within Heathenry. (Coincidentally, I also wasn’t the only one who chose to write about the issue of racism that week.) The article prompted a lot of discussion, and for the most part I felt the message had been well received. I had intended to write a piece about daily devotions for this week’s article, and I was about half way through it when I saw this headline pop-up on my Facebook feed.

“Frazier Glenn Cross’ racist religion: Odinism,” by Daniel Burke

 “Frazier Glenn Cross is a white supremacist, an avowed anti-Semite and an accused killer. But he is not, as many think, a Christian. Cross, who also goes by the name Glenn Miller, is accused of killing three people – all Christians – on Sunday at Jewish institutions in Overland Park, Kansas. Authorities are weighing whether to file hate-crime charges against Cross, who is suspected of targeting Jews. […] according to Cross’ 1999 biography, he is an adherent of Odinism, a neo-pagan religion that experts say has emerged as one the most vicious strains in the white supremacist movement.”

The entire article (written by a man who has been awarded by the American Academy of Religion for his supposed “In-Depth Reporting on Religion”) basically set out to define “Odinism” as an inherently racist faith. It included no quotes or references from any members of the community and apparently felt it appropriate to simply label us all as racists, so long as he included this small (one sentence) caveat near the end of the article.

Though Odinism has been appropriated by white racists, most adherents are peaceful, earth-loving pagans, said Jonathan White, an expert on white supremacists and a professor at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.”

In my last article, I made a point that we can’t pretend that racists don’t exist among us. We can’t be afraid to deny them their religious justifications and force them to acknowledge what they’re really doing. We need to expose these people for what they are and show the world that they do NOT represent us. The above article was PRECISELY why I wrote “Drawing the Line,” because until we all take a hard stance against this kind of hate and ignorance, the world will perceive us as granting tacit approval to those who have co-opted our religion for their own racist agenda.

As soon as I read this, I set aside my planned article and began writing a scathing response to Mr. Burke’s piece. I intended to try and hammer home the point I made in my last article and prompt the Heathen community to make a strong statement condemning Frazier’s actions. I got about halfway through it when I saw (through The Wild Hunt) that CNN had updated the article within hours of my finding it. I have NEVER been more proud to have to scrap an article. The Heathen community acted both quickly and decisively. Several organizations, including The Troth and Heathens United Against Racism, were quick to speak out against Frazier, contact CNN with corrections, and even start a petition to CNN. As happy as I was to see our community step up and make a statement, one effort in particular caught my attention more than the rest.

H.U.A.R. started a benefit to donate money to the victims’ families.

I am elated to see so many Heathens speaking up, but I am even more thrilled to see our community backing its words with ACTION: not just distancing ourselves from a madman, but trying our best to make amends for the wrongs done in our name. That is the kind of community I want to be a part of, and the kind of community I knew we could be. The benefit has already raised over $1800, and I want to see that number grow. To that end, I offered a Fund Matching Drive through Huginn’s Heathen Hof (my personal page) to support the H.U.A.R. benefit. As of the time this article was posted, nearly the entire $150 has been matched, but the drive isn’t over yet. I realize that not everyone has enough to give, and many of those who do can’t give much. Any donation helps, no matter how small. Thank you all for your support.


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About Alyxander Folmer

Alyxander Folmer is a student of Anthropology at ASU, focused on analyzing and building religious communities. He is a devoted Heathen, and married to a Rabbi in training. Interest in Pagan interfaith relations lead him to join the committee for the formation of the Pagan Chapter at the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, where he hopes to utilize his training in community building and cultural exchange. The majority of his work can be located at http://www.heathenhof.com/

  • cobalt_blue

    I have never understood why some Heathens are so anti-Jewish. It seems to me, that of all the Abrahamic Faiths, the Jews should be our best allies, and the people for whom we should support, and turn to learn what it means to be a tribe.

    Jews have never tried to convert us or anyone else. Their faith is very much based on the idea that they are descended from a single ancestor. Moreover, their communities represent the very ideals we seem to espouse with our NNV and those who claim to wish to build a tribe. They take care of each other as a community and support each other. These aspects of their faith are very similar to our own concept of being descended from Rigg and our attitudes about community. They don’t try and proselytize and convert non-Jews to their faith which is in stark contrast to both the Christians and the Muslims. Of all the Abrahamic Faiths they are the least offensive to heathens and pagans in general.

    From the Jews we could learn much about how to build communities and how to build tribes. This anti-Jewish sentiment seems to a poison brought to our faith from the outside. I think it is perhaps a remnant of misguided who people who think they are embracing a Germanic heritage when in reality they’re simply embracing the ravings of a mid-20th century madman, and they are incapable of separating the two. What ever it is, it must be discouraged.

  • Julia Olsen

    You know, I am so tired of bigots and haters appropriating religion (no matter what the religion) to suit their own purposes, whether it be the radical right-wingers claiming to speak for Christianity or Islam or one like the guy in KC claiming he is an Odinist. It’s time to step up and make our voices heard no matter what your faith if you disagree with those who are representing any form of racism, oppression, prejudice, etc. and claiming it is based in their “religion”. I admire the Heathen community for doing so.

    Thank you for reading my morning rant.

  • Joseph

    I will point out that Stephen McNallen also issued a condemnation: http://asatruupdate.blogspot.com/2014/04/statement-on-kansas-city-area-murders.html

    This is a crime that impacts the folkish and non-folkish wings of Asatru alike, which both wings find utterly abhorrent, and is rightly condemned by all.

    • Alyxander M Folmer

      I agree, and I’m pleased to see McNallen speaking out against this kind of violence.

  • http://kvasiramongstthegods.wordpress.com Harrison K. Hall

    Hey, thanks for helping us boost the signal and an even bigger thanks for matching the first 150 bucks in donations. People like you adding to the volume of the fundraiser is why we’re already closing in on $2500 and it is definitely appreciated!

    I do need to provide a minor correction, however; it’s technically not HUAR that’s holding the fundraiser, though we are all members and/or admins of the organization. This doesn’t represent something that is coming solely from any one organization or school of thought in Heathenry; this is something everyone can be involved with. It is our collective effort to do some good in light of something very awful. For this to be connected solely to HUAR would suggest this is just us and our deeds, when many people have come forth, put aside their politics and grudges, and acted in the common interest of both our community and the community that was on the receiving end of a maniac’s malice.

    Again, on behalf of all of us coordinating the fundraiser, thank you very much!

  • http://NRR.podbean.com Daniel (Wodenson)

    It does not do honor to our ancestors to stand idle while DISHONORABLE deeds are done to others regardless of their race, creed or culture. We must also be careful not to take responsibility for what we have NOT done–as this guy (the perpetrator) was so varied in his “convictions” that to say what he actually branded himself as is pure speculation. Local media reflected this, while the original CNN take on things did not. We are an easy scapegoat, and unfortunately that does not occur to the majority of the mainstream population. Rightly or wrongly accused, we need to make a strong stand against racism and hatred BUT ALSO move forward with positive deeds that affect the world–not just “damage control” and “keeping to our own”. Many do this already, but we need to BE what we claim our virtues represent–not just to other Asatruar but all of mankind. I apologize for the length of this post. This is stand of the NRR-Northern Runes Radio and Har’s Hall Kindred in Edmonton Canada. Its time to stop hating. There’s enough hate in the world–regardless of one’s religious convictions–its time to BUILD not destroy. Oh how I wish people would see this in these crazy times.

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