For the last few decades, the Heathen world has maintained an uneasy truce between its various umbrella organizations through what is known as the Folkish versus Universalist debate. The idea was that there is a side of Heathenry that believed you needed to be of Germanic descent to worship Germanic Gods, a side of Heathenry that believed anyone who felt personally called could worship the Germanic Gods, and an uneasy gap between them where each could “do as they see fit in their own halls”.
Folkish types used reasonable-sounding arguments to support their side. “Native American tribes have their indigenous religions, and we have ours,” they told us. “People should seek out the traditions of their own ancestry; there’s no need for them to come to ours.” Then they would carefully exclude anyone who didn’t look white enough, while the rest of Heathenry turned the other way.
By allowing this uneasy truce for decades, by acknowledging this “debate”, we have given legitimacy to outright racism. We have given bigots and cowards a big, fluffy, internet blanket to hide behind. And it has cost us dearly.
To the outside world, if they hear about “this Heathen stuff” or Asatru or some related term at all, racism gets lumped in with it. My own father came to me one day asking why a woman who sent him a friend request was listing Asatru as her religion and the National Socialist Party as her political affiliation. I had to explain why our religion gets connected with this garbage. To weakly argue “we’re not all like that”.
We’ve all had to explain. And apologize. And grit our teeth. And offer frith, or grith, or whatever word you like to use for “peaceful behavior extended towards others” in your form of Heathenry.
Then it happened. The straw that broke the détente’s back. The AFA came out with a statement that you’ve probably seen by now if you keep up with the Heathen world online, confirming that they do not allow non-white nor LGBT practitioners in their faith.
In other words, according to the AFA, if you’re not a straight white person bent on making lots of babies in a 1950s style marriage, you’re not worthy to worship the Heathen Gods. And they won’t allow you to do so alongside their group.
I don’t believe in heresy, but them’s smitin’ words.
We have covered the shame of racists and bigots for far too long with the fair-seeming garments of folkishness. But no more. More and more of the Heathen community is taking a stand, and saying this is not part of Heathenry. This is not who we are. This is not what we believe. You cannot claim to be part of our faith any longer, and you cannot continue to paint our faith with your bigoted brush.
The Havamal tells us, “When you see misdeeds, speak out against them, and give your enemies no peace.” Racism is not acceptable. Homophobia is not acceptable. Transphobia is not acceptable. Discrimination in our faith is not acceptable. Dictating to the Gods which followers They may or may not have is unacceptable, and hubris of the worst kind, the opposite of devotion.
There is no folkish versus universalist debate. We will not hide your shame any longer. If you are a bigot, you are not a Heathen.
Edit log: Corrected minor typo, added direct link to Declaration 127.