mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“All The Rage In Parts Of Southern Virginia”: Inside Virginia’s Church-Burning Werewolf White Supremacist Cult

Viking-inspired white supremacists trying to terrorize black Christians in the South: not as rare as you think.

News broke yesterday that the FBI arrested two young men under the suspicion that they were planning to start a race war by bombing black churches in their home state of Virginia. The men, Robert Doyle and Ronald Chaney, allegedly ascribe to an Icelandic pagan faith called Asatru that has a disturbingly large following among white supremacists.

The faith itself doesn’t seek to endorse or promulgate racist or anti-Semitic views. But you could be forgiven for thinking it does, given its strange appeal to Nazis and other sundry bigots.

Asatru is a pagan religion that draws on Norse mythology. It is related to Odinism, according the Southern Poverty Law Center, and some use the terms interchangeably. Its defenders say the religion itself isn’t inherently bigoted. But many white supremacists find it appealing because, unlike Christianity, it isn’t influenced by Judaism. If you think the KKK is soft on the Jews because it’s Christian-friendly, Asatru might be for you.

The SPLC notes that Odinism, which has ties to Asatru, played an important role in some corners of Nazism.

“Its Nordic/Teutonic mythology was a bedrock belief for key Third Reich leaders,” the group noted in a 1998 write-up, “and it was an integral part of the initiation rites and cosmology of the elite Schutzstaffel, which supervised Adolf Hitler’s network of death camps.” Asatru apologists seem to recognize that it has a bit of a PR problem.

Nazi affection for Asatru wasn’t a fluke. David Lane, a white supremacist terrorist who died in prison, promoted the religion while incarcerated. And it has gained significant traction in the prison population; the Anti-Defamation League wrote in a 2002 report that it was one of the faiths that incarcerated white supremacists found most often. The men arrested for allegedly trying to start a race war “may have met in prison, where all were des­ig­nated by prison offi­cials as white suprema­cists while in cus­tody,” the ADL notes.

“Accord­ing to the FBI, the sus­pects were adher­ents of a white suprema­cist vari­ety of Asatru­ism,” the group added.

And they aren’t the only young white men to target black churches in Virginia.

In 2012, Maurice Thompson Michaely pleaded guilty to arson—specifically, to charges of Unlawfully Entering Property of Another with the Intent to Damage and Maliciously Destroying or Defacing Church Property, according to the Bristow Beat. Michaely tried to burn down a historic black church, the 135-year-old Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. The fire didn’t injure anyone since the building wasn’t occupied when he attempted to burn it down. However, the fire caused about $1 million of damage, according to ABC affiliate WJLA and he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

According to social media screenshots on the Fools of Vinland blog, Michaely goes by the name Hjalti and is part of a group based outside Lynchburg, Va., called Wolves of Vinland.

When The Daily Beast reached out to the group via Facebook message, the person who runs the  account replied, “It doesn’t matter who we are, what matters is our plan.”

Matthias Waggener, one prominent member of the group, described it as an “Odinic Wolfcult.”

He also said the group practices animal sacrifice.

“It is a tool that can heighten the function of the human mind to a state where it can open doors that appear closed or non existent to the normal state of observation,” he said, according to Hunter Yoder’s book 9 Worlds of Hex Magic. “In this type of ritual you are ’sacrificing’ the life of the animal to achieve this state in order to gain the wisdom beyond those doors. With this wisdom we increase the effectiveness and potential of our actions that will in turn bring glory to ourselves and our Gods. This reconciles the practice back to one of Odinic sacrifice of Blood, and life for the attainment of knowledge to increase the life of those sacrificing.”

Waggener’s brother, Paul Waggener, visited Hjalti while he was incarcerated. And at least one prominent white supremacist, Jack Donovan, is affiliated with their group. Donovan, who recently spoke at the white supremacist National Policy Institute’s event in Washington, D.C., instagrammed a picture of a dead sheep, tagged #wolvesofvinland.

“Wolves and prospects preparing to butcher the sheep we sacrificed this afternoon at moot,” he wrote.

Animal sacrifice, Norse mythology, wolf-themed weekends—it all sounds like something out of a heavy metal music video or a Live Action Role Play convention. But as yesterday’s arrests evince, viking-inspired white supremacy is alive and well and weird in Southern Virginia.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, November 11, 2015

November 13, 2015 Posted by | Black Churches, Race War, White Supremacists | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Liberated By Grace”: No Shootings, No Bombings, No Fires Can Destroy This Faith

For those who see religion as primarily an opiate, African American Christianity offers a riposte. For those who see Christianity itself as a faith that encourages quiescence and conservatism, the tradition of the black church is a sign of contradiction.

Over the last few weeks, white Americans who never paid much attention to the religious convictions of their brothers and sisters of color have received an education. As has happened before in our history, much of this learning is prompted by tragedy, beginning with the murder of nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., and also a series of church burnings, not all of which have been explained.

The African American Christian tradition has been vital in our history for reasons of the spirit but also as a political seedbed of freedom and a reminder that the Bible is a subversive book. In the days of slavery, masters emphasized the parts of Scripture that called for obedience to legitimate authority. But the slaves took another lesson: that the authority they were under was not legitimate, that the Old Testament prophets and Exodus preached liberation from bondage, and that Jesus himself took up the cry to “set the oppressed free” with passion and conviction unto death.

The church was also a free space for African Americans, not unlike the Catholic Church in Poland under communism, that provided dissidents with room to maneuver. Even when segregationist Jim Crow laws were at their most oppressive, their churches provided places where African Americans could pray and ponder, organize and debate, free of the restrictions imposed outside their doors by the white power structure, to borrow a phrase first widely heard in the 1960s.

It was thus no accident that the black church was at the center of the civil rights movement. And it’s precisely because of their role as an oasis from repression that the churches became the object of burnings and bombings. The freedom enabled by sacred and inviolable space has always been dangerous to white supremacy.

But the church is about more than politics, and a liberating gospel is also a gospel of love. The family members of those slain at Emanuel AME Church astonished so many Americans by offering forgiveness to the racist alleged shooter, Dylann Roof.

There was nothing passive about this act of graciousness, for forgiveness is also subversive. By offering pardon to Roof, said the Rev. Cheryl Sanders, professor of Christian Ethics at Howard University’s Divinity School, the families of the victims demonstrated that there was “something radically different” about their worldview. The act itself “was a radical refusal to conform to what’s expected of you. It’s a way to avoid hating back.” They were, she said, following Jesus, who declared on the cross: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

President Obama created an iconic moment when he sang “Amazing Grace” at the funeral of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Few hymns have greater reach, not only across denominational lines, but also to nonbelievers who can identify with its celebration of personal conversion and transformation — of being lost and then found.

But Sanders, who is also pastor of the Third Street Church of God in the District, points out that the hymn has particular meaning to African Americans. John Newton, who wrote it in the 1770s, was a slave-ship captain who converted to Christianity, turned his back on his past (“saved a wretch like me”) and became a pastor. Newton eventually joined William Wilberforce’s Christian-inspired movement to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire.

The African American church tradition teaches that Christianity’s message resonates far beyond the boundaries of any racial or ethnic community, yet also shows that particular groups of Christians give it their own meaning. The idea that all are divinely endowed with equal dignity is a near-universal concept among Christians. But as Sanders says, an insistence on “the dignity and humanity of people in the sight of God” has exceptional power to those who have suffered under slavery and segregation.

“The whole story to them is ‘I can be free,’” she says. “If I am poor, poverty doesn’t invalidate my humanity. If I am humbled, I can be lifted up by God.”

And scholar Jonathan Rieder noted in his book about Martin Luther King Jr.’s ministry, “The Word of the Lord Is Upon Me,” that the Resurrection and the Exodus stories were rich sources of hope, especially in the movement’s darkest moments. “God will make a way out of no way” was King’s answer to those whose spirits were flagging.

No shootings, no bombings, no fires can destroy this faith.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, July 5, 2015

July 7, 2015 Posted by | African Americans, Black Churches, Christianity | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Safe, Sheltered And Protected”: In America, There Is No Sanctuary

The main hall of a church is called a sanctuary.

It is where you go to worship, to seek fellowship and solace, and commune with your maker. The dictionary definition of the word adds an additional layer of resonance. A sanctuary is where you are sheltered and protected. A sanctuary is where you are safe.

Wednesday night, Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, was a church without a sanctuary. Wednesday night, Emanuel AME was a killing ground.

Authorities say a 21-year-old white man named Dylann Storm Roof entered the African-American church Wednesday during Bible study, sat with the black congregants for an hour, and then started shooting. Nine people died in the attack, including the church’s pastor, Clementa C. Pinckney, who was also a state senator.

“I have to do it,” Roof is quoted as saying. “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

If there is reason to believe Rev. Pinckney or any of his congregants guilty of raping anyone or plotting to overthrow the government, it has not yet come to light.

But of course, when Roof said “you,” he did not mean “you,” singular. Rather he meant, “you,” plural. “You” people. “You” all. Individuality is, after all, the first casualty of racism. And indeed, an image circulated after the shooting shows Roof scowling at a camera while wearing a jacket with patches depicting the flags of two famously racist regimes: Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) and apartheid-era South Africa. Roof was apprehended the following day not far from Charlotte, North Carolina.

It was to seek sanctuary from people like him and beliefs like his that the church Roof shot up was founded in the first place. Emanuel AME, affectionately called “Mother AME,” was one of the earliest churches of the African Methodist Episcopal denomination, which was started in the late 18th century by black worshipers fed up with the discrimination they faced in the white church. In 1821, one of its members, Denmark Vesey, organized a slave revolt that failed when an informant leaked word of the plot. Nevertheless, the people traders of the South were galvanized by the audacity of the plan. The church was burned as a result.

It was rebuilt. In 1834, black churches were outlawed in South Carolina. Emanuel went underground until the law was changed. An earthquake destroyed the building in 1886. The church was rebuilt yet again.

Now, there is this.

Roof’s alleged attack is being called many things. It is being called appalling and tragic, and it is. It is being called a hate crime and it is. It is being called an act of white extremist terrorism and it is that, too. But one thing, let no one dare to call it, and that is, “surprising.” This attack can be regarded as surprising only by the very innocent, the very ignorant, and those who have not been paying attention.

In the first place, a nation whose gun love amounts to nothing less than fetishism has no right — ever — to describe a mass shooting as a surprise. Indeed, at this point, one is more surprised when the country passes a day without one.

But if the means of the attack is unsurprising, the motive is, too.

There is a myth in this country, a fable some people cherish because it makes them feel good and demands no moral or intellectual heavy lifting. That myth holds that we are done with race and have been for a very long time; that we overcame, learned our lesson, reached the Promised Land, and built luxury condos there.

Bill O’Reilly believes that myth. Sean Hannity believes it. Rush Limbaugh swears by it. Indeed, for most of the people who are pleased to call themselves “conservative,” that myth is nothing less than an article of faith.

Let them go to Charleston. Let them visit a church with no sanctuary

For that matter, let them go to Baltimore, let them go to Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, St. Louis, Miami. Let them go to any of a hundred cities and talk to black people who are sick of hearing how America overcame, learned its lesson, reached the Promised Land, yet somehow, sister can’t get a loan, dad can’t find a job, brother has to factor stop-and-frisk encounters into his travel time to and from school and Walter Scott gets shot in the back while running away. All for rapes they never committed and government takeovers they never planned.

If what happened in Charleston was extraordinary, and it was, this is the ordinary, the everyday of existing while black that grinds your faith down to a nub and works your very last nerve. Especially when the background music is provided by a bunch of people who don’t know, don’t know that they don’t know, and don’t care that they don’t know, singing operatic praise to a faded myth.

Solange Knowles, sister of Beyoncé, put it as follows Thursday in a tweet: “Was already weary. Was already heavy hearted. Was already tired. Where can we be safe? Where can we be free? Where can we be black?”

Where, in other words, can we find just a moment to breathe free of this constant onus? Where can we find sanctuary?

What happened Wednesday night at a storied church in Charleston is a painful reminder that in America, no such place exists.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, June 21, 2015

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Black Churches, Emanuel AME Church, Mass Shootings | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“After Charleston Massacre, Uneasiness For Black Churchgoers”: This Sunday, I’ll Be Keeping An Eye On The Front Door

The Black Church is one of the most welcoming places on Earth. The Black Church will take you in when others turn their backs, doors are locked in your face, and no one else seems to want you around.

So when a white person enters a Black house of worship and quietly takes a seat, that person is immediately accepted as someone seeking God or, at least, as a person curious about what’s going on inside that particular church.

Either way, African-American worshipers are expected to make room, and provide a seat in the pews, or at the table, or wherever the gathering is taking place.

That’s the way it is and it has always been.

What’s more, and it’s not said aloud, we are glad when a white person decides to join us in fellowship to worship the same God since, on so many other occasions they find reasons to keep us at a distance.

But as a result of the slaughter at Mother Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, at this coming Sunday’s worship services, things may be a little different.

Oh, the choir will give voice in song, and the preacher will teach and preach from the Gospel. The ushers will pass the plates, and the doors of the church will be opened to all who have not entered and joined as members before.

But this weekend, something else will enter the minds of even the most loving, forgiving, all-embracing congregants.

That white face that we have never seen before, that man who nods but doesn’t seem to warm up to the people around him? This question will enter the mind: Could that individual be a Charleston copy cat? Could he be a visitor with the same white-hot, anti-black fury burning within him as that within Dylann Roof, who, with his gun, ended the God-given life of nine souls?

I am a member of a predominately African American church-St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Foggy Bottom here in Washington. It’s one of the oldest black churches in our nation’s capital.

This weekend, I will join my rector and fellow congregants in prayer for the nation, for the people of Charleston, and my family and fellow worshipers.

But this Sunday, as God is my witness, I’ll be keeping an eye on the front door.

 

By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, June 19, 2015

June 21, 2015 Posted by | African Americans, Black Churches, Emanuel AME Church | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: