Jailed Asatru followers confused with white supremacists.
Asatru followers are finding it hard to follow their religion in US prisons because it is adopted by neo-Nazis.
Ex-con Jody Hadley who found the “Nine Noble Virtues” of Asatru helped him become a better person. He founded the Asatru religious group at the penitentiary that still meets, although its relationship with the prison hasn’t always been cordial.
The problem was that the movement, particularly in jail, has been hijacked white supremacists.
It is hard for pagans to prove that Asatru is not about racism, and one idiot does not make a community.
Talking to the Argus Leader Hadley said that Asatru and its offshoots have drawn neo-nazis and white supremacists for years, particularly behind prison walls.
Many of them are drawn to the writings of David Lane who latched on to a version of the Nordic religion called “Wotanism.” Lane preferred “Wotan” as both a stand-in for “Odin” and an acronym for “Will of the Aryan Nation.”
Courts have generally ruled that religion is protected in prison by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But hate groups have used that to meet as a group by organising as a religious group.
Hadley said Asatru and Native American groups commonly sparred with prison officials over rituals, group meetings and religious artefacts.
Asatru uses some pagan symbols, such as the swastika which is associated with Nazis. Hadley said he was once questioned in prison about a Thor’s hammer tattoo on his chest, for example.
But Ryan Giroux, a white supremacist sentenced to life plus 83 years in prison for a shooting spree in Mesa, Arizona, has the hammer tattooed on his chin.