Earlier this evening, the Troth issued an official policy statement essentially threatening the careers of all AFA members in the military. I'm going to give some commentary, but you have the link to the original, just in case.
Racist or homophobic actions or speech are considered to be violations of military discipline under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) article 134, and the Canadian Queens Regulations and Orders 103.60.Okay. Now, wouldn't it be nice to actually read the text of UCMJ Article 134? Why, I just happen to have it handy...
Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.Nothing in there about homosexuality or racism. In fact, it looks pretty damn vague. I do believe the Troth is slightly overstating the case when it claims this article forbids membership in a religious organization that endorses traditional families and insists on an ancestral tie to practice an ancestral religion. After all, I don't recall ever hearing about it being used to punish someone who practiced American Indian religion, or practices Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Hel, the AFA doesn't even ban gays; it just endorses heteronormality. Like hundreds of other religious denominations.
I can't speak to the Canadian reference, mostly because it's late and I can't be bothered to look it up, but also because I'm an American and served in the USAF, not the RCAF. We had a class in this stuff in basic training twenty-five years ago. So I'm an expert!
But back to the Troth official tantrum:
Recent statements from the Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) that Asatru or Heathenry is only open to those who are white, heterosexual gender conforming are in fact untrue. This represents their internal policies, not Heathen belief.In point of fact, the AFA statement never claimed to speak for all of "Asatru or Heathenry." It was always quite plain that it represented AFA policy only. So... straw man #1 down, right off the bat.
The AFA present the US and Canadian military a clear-cut, but false, statement that those service folk who express Heathen or Asatru religious beliefs are in contravention of UCMJ 134, and QR&O 103.60.Well, no. It's not a false statement at all. It's a statement of AFA policy. And never pretended to be anything else. But do go on.
Because the Department of Defense guidelines specifically prohibit this sort of prejudice (http://diversity.defense.gov/About/), the statements of the AFA, if accepted as true, would appear to put Heathen or Asatru soldiers in breach of the policies of the forces and nations they are sworn to serve. This has severe career implications for all Heathen service folk, as well as being a slur upon countless good and worthy men and women who are forbidden by existing regulations to advocate for themselves.Well, no. Just based on the definition of the DOD policy they reference above, there's nothing in there about belonging to an organization that has standards the Troth doesn't happen to agree with. There are hundreds of religious organizations that hold similar policies, but they don't seem to have any issues with the UCMJ. There's no reason to expect the AFA to run into trouble.
But I must say, even the implication that the Troth is threatening the military careers of servicemen and servicewomen who are members of the Asatru Folk Assembly is quite despicable. Clearly, the new administration in the Troth has gone off the deep end, and has descended quickly into a radical anti-folkish jihad, grasping at whatever straws they can in order to try to harm its rivals.
Especially in the wake of the recent uber-leftist call to practice terrorism against non-leftist pagans, and in the context of G&R and HUAR's months-long campaign of harassment against people with whom they disagree, this seems particularly chilling coming from a group that bills itself as a mainstream Asatru organization.
It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that the AFA is moving from success to success to success, with national gatherings across the country, an ever-increasing number of regional gatherings, incredible fundraising results, and has a membership a third larger than the Troth, now, could it?
It falls to organizations like The Troth to provide the strong and clear message that Asatru and Heathenry as a whole strongly condemn racism, homophobia, and similar forms of discrimination. For those Heathen men and women who now serve under arms, and who are forbidden to speak in their own defense, let us be as clear as possible.
Racism is not a Heathen belief, nor is sexism nor homophobia. We in the Troth, like many other Heathen organizations, hold and enforce a zero tolerance policy on such behaviors in our halls, and at our events.Wait a second. Didn't the Troth just a couple of paragraphs before lay into the AFA with the (false) accusation that they were "speaking for all of Asatru and Heathenry?" And isn't that exactly what the Troth is doing right there?
Guys, a second-rate organization with dwindling membership and an ever-decreasing footprint can't condemn the AFA for speaking for all of Asatru one minute, and then go ahead and proceed to do so the next. Especially when the AFA never did so, and you admitted as much in your own next sentence!
As Heathens, we take great pride in disagreeing with each other on a hundred points of doctrine and practice; this is part of our community, part of our ancestral tradition, and not something we are looking to change. We can - and do - unite on some matters though; some matters that are so important, so fundamental to our beliefs that we set aside our differences and speak with one voice.
Two things have brought us together to speak in that single voice in recent years. The first was to all stand behind the Open Halls Project (OHP) to see that all good Heathen service folk had access to support wherever they were based or deployed. The second thing has been condemnation of the AFA’s racist and homophobic proclamations. They do not speak for Heathenry, they do not speak for the many fine men and women who serve our nations under arms, and who have given up the right to speak for themselves while they serve.The level of self-contradiction here is just incredible. First they say nobody can speak for all Heathens, and then they proceed to... speak for all Heathens. Especially when what the AFA said was neither racist (it is not, by definition, racist to say that all races should have the same opportunity to worship their ancestral gods), nor homophobic (because it's not homophobic to say that heterosexual relationships are normal and good; doing do is not an implicit or explicit condemnation of non-heterosexual relationships, no matter how hard they want to say otherwise).
Guys, this desperate attempt to regain some legitimacy and/or relevance is just pathetic. You're starting to sound like HUAR. Give it up. You're not going to gain any traction by finding some external enemy.
We who have served before, we who now stand in support must be that voice, and that voice from not simply the Troth but a hundred other Heathen organizations rings loud and clear. Racism and Homophobia are not Heathen, that is not what our service folk bring to our banners. Loyalty, courage, self-discipline, honour and frith you may find in our teachings, industriousness, self reliance and hospitality as well. You will find no hate in our teachings, no barriers set up against race, gender or sexuality. These things are not Heathen.And again, the Troth can speak for all Heathens. Nobody else can.
Our Heathen service folk stand on guard to defend us all, but to do so, they have given up the right to speak in their own defense. If falls to us, the Heathen community, to raise our voices for them. The teachings of Heathenry are not in conflict with the UCMJ or the QR&O. In fact the teachings of Heathenry are consistent with the highest military and civic virtues. Those in your ranks who you know are Heathen are not just pillars of our community; they are pillars of their service. They are loyal sons and daughters of their nations, offering the gift of service in return for the freedom in which they were raised. A gift for a gift is our way. As these fine men and women are giving us their gift of service, now we give for them this gift; a gift of the words they may not speak in their own defense.You know who else supports traditional marriage? Orthodox Christianity. Catholicism. Hundreds of other denominations. None of them or their members has been deemed in violation of the UCMJ.
You know who else supports an ethnic standard for membership? Orthodox Judaism. Dozens of American Indian tribes. Shinto. None of them or their members has been deemed in violation of the UCMJ.
This is virtue signalling of the worst sort. It's a pathetic attempt to grab attention, to try to sling mud at a competing organization that's frankly cleaning the Troth's clock when it comes to influence, events, and getting real stuff done. If I hadn't already left the Troth because of their lax academic standards, I'd leave because of this ideological bullshit.
And, just for gravy, this statement is in violation of the Troth's own bylaws:
Membership in The Troth is open to men and women who profess and practice Heathen religion, where this membership affiliation is based on religious or cultural reasons, not for racial or political reasons.So if you think that traditional families are preferable because of religious reasons, or you think that ancestry matters for religious reasons (what does "racial reasons" even mean?), this official statement of the Troth has now invalidated (and contradicted) the corporate bylaws. Delicious.
Whatever the legality of it, the Troth has made it plain that, in contravention of years of previous policy, folkish Heathens are no longer welcome within its ranks. I know there are a handful of folkish Heathens who still maintain membership in the Troth for various reasons. Many of us on the outside saw the purge coming when the leadership changed this year. Now it looks like it has come. This is the nailing of the notice of the pogrom on the gatepost of the village. Now's the time to leave.
I happen to know an organization where you'll be welcome, if you aren't already a member.