I have been sitting on this topic for some time now. I have wanted to write more about it without stepping on anyone's toes or worse yet, making a bad situation worse. What I am about to say, are my personal thoughts, not necessarily the beliefs of my tribe. Legacy of Tyr is a neutral entity not keen on diving into the old feud between Folkish and Universal Asatru organizations. We're a tribe for military and their family - built by military and their family. We can't really weigh in on an an all inclusive religious community when we're pretty exclusive ourselves when it comes down to who has a DD214 or Military ID and who doesn't. Some of our members hold to some pretty tight Folkish values and some do not. We're not here to debate the community over who's version of heathenry is right or wrong when 65%-75% of the heathens within the Asatru community wouldn't be able to join Legacy of Tyr anyhow Folkish or not.
With that said, let's talk about:
Hospitality is one of our Nine Virtues. We don't isolate ourselves or restrict who our members affiliate with in their own individual time. We believe people's personal lives are just that. Personal. If they are not doing anything illegal, to cause harm to themselves or others, or using Legacy of Tyr's name to do anything counter productive to our cause, it's not our business to interfere. We try to be good neighbors as an organization to other heathen groups and kindreds regardless if they are five miles down the road or 5000 miles across the nation. Being hospitable doesn't mean we have to be friends, being friends doesn't mean we have to agree with an individual or other organizations' ideology. Most of all, it doesn't mean we have to worship with them, but have the right to do so if we are invited. We are adult enough to respect each other's tribal boundaries, and either work together or give each other room to promote Asatru.
With that said, I need to bring up the main purpose of my article.
Legacy of Tyr didn't sign this. We felt that as veterans, we need to support people's First Amendment Rights regardless if it was the AFA or anyone else as long as they aren't doing anything illegal or damaging to anyone. The Asatru Folk Assembly holds private gatherings at private venues that they pay for and members have to pay dues and buy tickets to their events. So, since they aren't actually doing anything to harm anyone or harass anyone, signing Declaration 127 didn't make any sense to us. We didn't feel the need to shun someone from an entire community as the Amish shun their defectors. Signing it would go against our stance that First Amendment Rights apply to everyone and it would spoil our neutral position. I will say that it was a peaceful collective effort to counter the AFA and I give kudos for that alone.
... but it didn't end there.
Since the online endeavor of shunning The AFA occurred, things have escalated to another level. Things are going in a direction that I see is very dangerous for our community. There have been two instances where non Asatru activist groups tried to get AFA events cancelled. The event venue in September 2016 at Camp Courage got harassed by the anti fascist and anti racist activists to the point the venue cancelled the reservation and the same tactic was tried for Ostara 2017, but was unsuccessful.
The activist group cited Declaration 127 in their call to action. This was seriously suspicious in my opinion.
Aiming to disrupt anyone's worship service or event is wrong. Harassing a venue owner to cancel said event is wrong. Allowing non Asatru activists to police our religious community is the biggest red flag I have ever seen. To what level do we as a community allow things to escalate? Will there be a violent confrontation? I'm not denying that our religion does not have extremists and radicals or even racists. Every religion does, but at what point did we stop policing our own and stop dealing with our community issues amongst tribal leaders as diplomats and sink this low? Why can't we just leave people to do as they please in their private circles and organizations? Do these Antifa people know the difference between Folkish beliefs and actual racism? Are they Asatru based? Do they have Asatru people within their ranks? Are all Folkish heathens being coined as racists by these people? Is this the new "norm"?
What is really sad about all of this, is that the amount of effort and time it took to orchestrate and network this plan could have been spent promoting our religion. Out of the 100+ organizations that signed Declaration 127, like minded kindreds, tribes and organizations could have started working together to market themselves and host really nice events for their members and prospective members; instead of trying to interfere with the events of a group they do not like. I do not like pointing fingers and I do not like making accusations without proof, but we also cannot ignore the possibility that a heathen organization may have had their hand this.
This isn't even about the Asatru Folk Assembly anymore. This is about outsiders coming into our community to harass and bully people of our faith they don't like on an organizational level. Everyone in the entire Asatru Folk Assembly is being accused of racism and pegged as Nazis. That's not right. The theological idea that an ancestral religion should not be practiced by those who do not have any ancestral connection to said religion is not racism. It's how you treat people outside of the realm of our religion determines racism. Celebrating the culture of one's European ancestors does not equate celebrating racism and slavery, nor is it diminishing anyone else's culture or race. Again, an individuals actions speak louder than anything. If someone is using our religion as a reason to commit hate crimes, that's not OK and that's not what our religion calls for. At the same time, not everyone should be bundled into one blanket simply because they are Folkish and joined a Folkish organization. Accusing someone of being a white supremacist, nationalist or Nazi can be pretty damaging to someone's life; particularly if it is not true. There's numbers of people who joined the AFA and even Troth when there weren't any other choices. They stayed because they've built bonds and a religious community. You cannot fault them for that. How many Christian churches have a pastor who has controversial views but people still go to that church that may not 100% agree with the pastors views but enjoy the program? You have to admit, the AFA has a lot to offer to someone. They're always holding events and doing things for their people. Of course people are going to join them base upon that alone. Again, over 100+ kindreds and organizations signed Declaration 127. They should be working together to build Hofs, programs, and hold events.
The Purity Spectrum
Now there is argument over what I call the "purity spectrum" as to how European descended does one have to be (if at all) to practice our faith. I don't have the answer for that. That's not for me to decide and it is not my business how other organizations decide who gets to join their ranks. The fact is, it's nobody's business how other organizations are ran just as civilians and outsiders don't get to decide what I do with Legacy of Tyr and no one gets to tell the Native tribes up north who gets to practice Longhouse and who does not.
Why attack groups who have strict Folkish guidelines rather than working on promoting and starting more diverse groups if that is how you theologically lean? One organization does not speak for the entire population of heathens, so, why is this an issue? Let them practice their religious freedoms in peace as you would want the freedom to do such. The fact is, these people aren't doing anything to go out of their way to harass, damage or prevent anyone from practicing the faith. They are NOT the Westboro Baptist Church. They may have traditional right leaning views, but the truth is, they aren't doing anything to anyone. They aren't causing a disruption on the streets or anyone's personal space. You cannot even compare the two. They aren't doing anything illegal. This is one of those things we as a community have to either decide to agree with their views or don't and move on.
A terrible Pandora's box has been opened in our community and it's letting out a toxic and poisonous cloud to everyone of the Asatru faith and it will only spread like cancer if we ignore it. Tomorrow it may become your issue, your tribe's issue, your kindred's issue or your organization's issue.
This is why we as a community cannot stay silent on this matter. It doesn't matter if your opinion of the AFA is good, bad or otherwise. What is being done is wrong and we cannot condone this.