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.