Not in our Paganism? We’re not off the hook

Lupa Greenwolf already said everything I was thinking about why this is wrong, and more clearly than I can right now.

But I can’t say racism, gender essentialism, and homophobia are “Not in my Paganism” because they clearly still are, and still need to be cleaned out, corrected. I don’t believe I get to disown misguided and even hateful Heathens as being Not Really Heathen and thus not my problem. I don’t think that’s how Lupa intended it – I’m quite sure she’s disowning those values, which is a statement I entirely agree with. But it’s too easy to take it there, and all too often I see racism in Heathenry casually dismissed as “not really Heathenry”, as though that absolves us of responsibility for it.

It doesn’t.

I have to deal with the racist Heathens, at least in the jails. I must help redirect them to paths that valorize them for what they do, instead of their ancestry. I must help them find better connections with their fellows, more to have in common than the color of their skin. Yes, I could stop volunteering as a chaplain, but then were would they be?

As far as I’m concerned, Heathen values, Vanic values, are about what we do, the choices we make, and who we choose to be, and most especially, how we treat each other. By “we” I mean all sentient beings, not just those we call Kindred. Other people don’t cease to exist or be of concern just because they aren’t in my group.

There is one rule for who can be in the Vanatru groups I lead:

All that we ask, all we have ever asked, is that any who attend our meetings behave respectfully towards each other, and towards our purpose in pursuing frithful relationships with the Vanir. We have never had and never will have a requirement that our members have any particular ancestry, any particular culture, any particular gender identity, or sexual orientation, or the ability to consume any particular substance.

I will say, we’ve known for a long time that the AFA was racist and separatist in their “folkish” values, but their previous leadership put forth considerable effort to keep it hidden behind pretty words. In a way, it’s a relief to me that they’re finally openly admitting it. Now maybe when I point out yet again that the Asatru Folk Assembly is a racist organization, people who are ostensibly on my side of that debate won’t take up arms on their behalf anymore?

I can hope.

I’ve long said that the AFA is a bad organization, but not everyone IN the AFA is bad.  Right now I’m worried for those in the AFA who don’t actually share those values, who honestly believed the pretty words put forth and that the racist leanings were just an uninfluential fringe within a larger, generally positive organization. I have known folks in the AFA with Semitic backgrounds. I don’t know any QUILTBAG folks in the AFA off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are a few in the mix. There are bound to be some places where if you’re Heathen and want community, your only in-person choice is the AFA or worse, and I worry for those stuck in such places having no better options.

The Troth is better, but not always better enough. They, at least, are working on it.

Oh, and for the record, for all who spout that “protect the family” excuse for their militant separatism? My family by both blood and law, much less my kindred by choice, includes people whose ancestors span the world, queer folk, neurodiverse folk, and several different religions. Dismissing queer people, disrespecting brown and black people, or Semitic people, rejecting immigrants and foreigners, disparaging disabled people, dishonoring other faiths? You are threatening my family. What kind of Heathen would I be if I allowed that to continue?