*A small Minnesota town has granted a conditional use permit for a whites only church, and locals have fired off a petition in hopes of stopping it from happening.
The Asatru Folk Assembly in Murdock, Minnesota cites its pre-Christian religion that originated in northern Europe. The group, based in Brownsville, California, says teachings and membership are for those of strictly European bloodlines.
But the Southern Poverty Law Center describes Asatru Folk Assembly as a “neo-Volkisch hate group” that couches “their bigotry in baseless claims of bloodlines grounding the superiority of one’s white identity.” Townsfolk also call the church a white separatist group, but church members deny it.
“We’re not. It’s just simply not true,” Allen Turnage, a folk assembly board member told NBC News. “Just because we respect our own culture, that doesn’t mean we are denigrating someone else’s.”
Despite a council vote officially approving the permit this month, residents are pushing back against the decision, which comes amid a growing population of Latinos who have moved to the area in the past decade because of job opportunities. By Wednesday, a Change.org petition seeking to stop the group from occupying the building in the farming town of 280 people had received approximately 122,300 signatures.
“I think they thought they could fly under the radar in a small town like this, but we’d like to keep the pressure on them,” said Peter Kennedy, a longtime Murdock resident. “Racism is not welcome here.”
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