Asatru Folk Assembly
The Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) is an international völkish Ásatrú organization, founded by Stephen A. McNallen in 1994. Headquartered in Grass Valley, California, with chapters worldwide, the AFA is recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit religious organization.
Early roots of the organization can be found in the Viking Brotherhood which was founded by McNallen in 1972. McNallen was one of the earliest advocates in the United States of reconstructing Germanic Paganism. The Viking Brotherhood later evolved into the Asatru Free Assembly in 1974, and was disbanded in 1986, splitting into two successor organizations, the "folkish" Ásatrú Alliance, and the "universalist" the Troth. In 1986 the Asatru Free Assembly ceased operations, due to burnout and disputes within the membership.
According to accounts by McNallen, it was not due to racial politics, but because administration was time-consuming and a request seeking pay for religious work was rejected by the membership. The organization was ultimately disbanded.
McNallen founded the Asatru Folk Assembly in 1995 as the successor organization to the Asatru Free Assembly. The defunct Asatru Free Assembly is sometimes distinguished from the newer Asatru Folk Assembly by the usage of "old AFA" and "new AFA", respectively. From 1997-2002, the AFA was a member organization of the International Asatru-Odinic Alliance.
McNallen believes in an "integral link between ancestry and religion, between biology and spirituality," and according to Jeffrey Kaplan the organization was founded in part to counteract rumored "universalist" tendencies he discerned in Ring of Troth.
In 1999, the assembly almost acquired land in northern California, aiming to base a communal project with room for agriculture and religious worship. However, the organization never held legal title to the land. Upon promises that the subject piece of land would be donated, some members of the AFA built a simple hof there, after which the actual owner of the land chose not to donate it.
In the late 1990s, the assembly got involved with the protracted fight over the remains of the Kennewick Man: they claimed that these were the remains of a European ancestor and were allowed to approach, but not touch, the coffin holding him. Later testing found that the Kennewick Man was genetically similar to Native Americans and Ainu people.
In May 2017, Facebook deleted the AFA's primary social media outlet citing hate speech as the reason. In 2018, the Southern Poverty Law Center added Asatru Folk Assembly to its list of hate groups as part of a new category called "Neo-völkisch."
In December 2019, two members of the Army National Guard received a general discharge after antifa activists reported that the two were leaders of a local Asatru Folk Assembly group in Alabama and Georgia. Both had previously attended a rally by Richard B. Spencer. One was on active duty in Afghanistan, while the other worked as a jailer for the Haralson County Sheriff's Office, where he was fired following the report.
In August 2015 the AFA acquired a former Grange Hall in Brownsville, California, built in 1938, to be used as a hof and community center under the name Newgrange Hall Asatru Hof. It was previously the Youth Center of the Mountaintop Christian Academy of CA, and at another time the Marge Moore Youth Center.
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