By Abdulla Gaafarelkhalifa
We will be covering a Whites only church. Not in the South during Jim Crow, but in Minnesota… in the year 2021.
On April 29, 2021, Kandiyohi County District Judge Stephanie ruled against the harassment charges presented by Jason Plourde — a priest of the Ásatrú Folk Assembly (AFA). The denied restraining order was targeted against Victoria Guillemard — a law student who organized an opposition group against the AFA after the church opened in the small town in December.
The approval was granted by the City of Murdock, Minnesota — a town of 280 in West-Central Minnesota. Murdock mayor, Craig Kavanagh stated in an interview "We were told there was a 99% chance we would lose in court… It didn't feel like that was the best decision to me and we were advised against denying it by multiple sources."
Kavanagh also stated “Whoever they are, they are protected by the constitution, free speech, freedom of religion.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the AFA is the largest neo-Volkisch hate group in the United States. Starting in the mid-19th century in Austria, their ideology — which spurred from Social Darwinism and the mythical beliefs of Ayrian purity — ingrained the belief that one’s worth and intellect is based on visible biological traits.
The SPLC also noted that unlike Abrahmic faiths, their deities originate from pre-Christian Viking culture. Allen Turnage — a member and lawyer for the AFA — stated in a phone call interview “We believe that as Northern Europeans, it is not only our birthright but our obligation to maintain the ancestral memory… and to give worship and fealty to our gods and our ancestors. ”
The AFA made it clear that their Murdock church is for White people only, and not for people of color. This inspired Victoria Guillemard — a Certified Student Attorney at 8th District Public Defender's Office — to create the Murdock Area Alliance Against Hate (MAAAH) to spread awareness of the negative effects that the AFA can have in Murdock. After months of tension between the AFA and the MAAAH, Plourde presented his case in legal court.