By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — People living in a western Minnesota town say they’re concerned about a group with white supremacist beliefs, moving to their city.

Earlier this year, Asatru Folk Assembly bought a vacant Lutheran Church in Murdock. Last night the city council voted to allow them to use the church to practice their beliefs.

Some religious scholars have referred to Asatru Folk Assembly, as a racist fringe group with white supremacist beliefs. An attorney for the group says they are a Northern European religion and that’s it.

But Victoria Guillemard isn’t buying it.

“This is not politics, this is not religion. This is looking at your neighbor and believing they are not equal to you because of the color of their skin,” said Guillemard.

AFA, as the group is often referred to, is headquartered in California and practices a pre-Christian religion. But unlike other Asatru organizations, their Statement of Ethics says, ‘We in Asatru support strong, healthy white family relationships. We want our children to grow up to be mothers and fathers to white children of their own.’

“I hope AFA realizes they have no power here. Murdock does not stand for hate and we do not stand for white supremacy,” said Guillemard.

Guillemard is co-founder of the Murdock Area Alliance Against Hate. On Wednesday night her group protested outside the church, as the city council voted to grant AFA permission to practice their beliefs in town. Some council members and city leaders were concerned that rejecting AFA’s request could violate its religious rights and lead to legal action against the town of 273 people.

“I think the First Amendment has been distorted over the years and manipulated to protect institutions like the Asatru Folk Assembly,” said Guillemard.

Mayor Craig Kavanaugh released a statement saying ‘We… want it to be known that the City of Murdock condemns racism in all its forms… We are committed to building a community that promotes equal justice and opportunity to every, single person regardless of their race.’

Guillemard said she plans to make sure AFA understands that.

“I honestly think they thought they could come in here, buy this church, and Murdock would be oblivious to their actions,” said Guillemard. “They have to recruit locally in order to survive and I am going to make sure that is not happening.”

A number of heathen leaders in the Twin Cities, who also practice a pre-Christian religion, issued a statement denouncing AFA and showing their support for the residents of Murdock.

Messages left for AFA were not returned before this story aired.

John Lauritsen