Stop the Asatru Folk Assembly Winter Nights event at Stonehenge

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      Andrew Pardy
      Paganism is the 7th largest religion in the UK. According to the 2021 Census Paganism grew by 34% in 10 years, making it the second fastest growing religion, comparative to size, in the UK.

      Emboldened by the increasingly conservative and traditionalist political landscape, racially exclusive right-wing extremist groups such as the Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) are making use of this renaissance in an attempt to establish a foothold and some semblance of validity in the UK.

      The AFA was founded in the US by Stephen McNallen, a self-proclaimed ‘racial separatist’ who espouses his pseudo-scientific theory of metagentics, a combination of biological determinism and eugenics which claims that Heathenry can only be practiced by those of white Northern European heritage. Both McNallen and his predecessor Matt Flavel promote David Lane’s 14 Words among their core tenets.

      The AFA openly and proudly promote a racist, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic interpretation of contemporary Germanic Paganism that is abhorrent to the law-abiding and inclusive Pagans and Heathens of the UK represented by the groups who have co-authored this correspondence.

      The AFA employ ‘folk builders’, members who recruit and radicalise others into their extremist and racially exclusive interpretation of Heathen Paganism. Folk builders are employed to access Pagan communities, the armed forces, emergency services, and the prison system in an attempt to recruit members and establish a presence in institutions that pose a significant threat to national security.

      On the 8th September 2023, newly appointed AFA folk builder James Saunders posted on Twitter/X that the AFA will be hosting its first Winter Nights event at Stonehenge on 28th October 2023 at 7pm.

      We cannot allow the AFA to desecrate a symbol of our cultural heritage and a site of spiritual significance to Pagans across the UK with their imported brand of racist, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic Paganism that shares nothing with the inclusive contemporary iteration of British Paganism, and which is fundamentally incompatible with the wonderfully diverse multicultural communities of the UK.

      The latest iteration of the PREVENT Duty Guidance rightfully identifies extreme right-wing ideology as a resurgent and significant threat to national security, however the AFA differs from the definition provided, in that they are an organised hierarchical group with territorial ambitions.

      Permitting the AFA to openly promote themselves by way of a public event at Stonehenge would assist them in establishing a foothold in the UK and providing the foundation they need to perpetuate their divisive and extremist narratives that will only contribute to the already increasing risk posed by extreme right-wing terrorism in the UK.

      We would like assurances from the agencies and statutory bodies responsible for protecting the safety and integrity of Stonehenge that they will assess this event and consider their duties under PREVENT and work in partnership to address this issue to prevent a symbol of national heritage being co-opted as a symbol of extremist far-right hate and division.

      The Pagan and Heathen bodies represented herein would like to take this opportunity to declare that Paganism, including the contemporary Germanic Paganism known as Heathenry, is open to anyone regardless of their age, disability, neurodiversity, gender identity, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, and that we wholly reject the racist, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic interpretation of Paganism promoted by the AFA as incompatible with our tenets and values, and those of the wonderfully diverse multicultural foundations of the UK.

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