Protest in the works in Independence over controversial 'whites- - KCTV5

Protest in the works in Independence over controversial 'whites-only' religious group

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INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -

Editor's note: A previous version of this report indicated Asatru is a Pagan religion requiring certain lineage to belong. That restriction is not a tenet of Asatru as a religion but a guiding principle of some sects of the religion, who call themselves "Folkish." The group sponsoring the event and the author identify themselves as "Folkish" and therefore excluding anyone without Northern European lineage. There are many other Asatru religious organizations that do not exclude members based on race and have been actively trying to get the other sects discredited.

The national tensions over race are starting to trickle into the metro area. 

In Independence, there are calls for a protest of a book signing connected to a whites-only religious group. The venue that was to host the event policy pulled out Tuesday over safety concerns.

Angela Krout contacted the Cotillian last month about hosting a book signing for a self-published author who practices something called Asatru. Asatru is a Norse neo-Pagan religion. There are multiple sects, many of whom are inclusive of all races. The author, however, aligns himself with a sect that calls itself "Folkish," meaning only those with Northern European lineage can belong.

Now, Krout is without a venue and facing a firestorm of criticism - much of it from within the Pagan community, including practitioners of Asatru who disavow the racial exclusion "Folkish" groups espouse.

Krout runs a Pagan store that supplies materials for casting spells in the myriad different subgroups of Paganism.

She happened to be wearing a shirt Tuesday that embraces all religions.

"We can't hold hands when we're pointing fingers," it says, and she says the latter is what's happening. "I've been called a Nazi. "I've been called a racist. I've been called a homophobe."

She defends the man whose book was the subject of the event, planned for Saturday, saying his message is uplifting. She says the religious organization he aligns himself with does not demean people of color - even though it excludes them.

Bryan Wilton is the author of the book. 

"It is an ethnic faith," Wilton said in a Facebook post from a year ago. "Plain and simple." 

"That's a remnant of Christianity, that everyone can be involved. We can all be beautiful and happy. No, we can't," he added. 

One person working on a protest of Saturday's event interpreted it this way: "This is White Supremacy at its finest, all dressed up as Freedom of Religion"

Asatru and other Norse neo-Pagan religions have been scrutinized by hate watch groups like the Sothern Poverty Law Center because it has been attracting followers from known hate groups. However, the SPLC wrote in a 2016 publication, "Adherents of Asatru are not uniformly racist, and it is officially recognized as a religion in Iceland, where it's practitioners have avoided racist interpretations of the faith."

A letter from the Cotillian's lawyers said it was pulling out of the event due to "threats of protest" and "safety concerns" noting "employees...are being followed."

Krout understands and accepts their decision - but says she - her store - and the book she stands behind - are not what people think.

She says she sold 100 tickets to people from coast to coast - and if she finds a new space for the speaking engagement, she's going to keep the location secret.

Protestors will be trying to find a way to make it public and be close by to speak against it.

Laurie Sherman Mcclain, the organizer of the Kansas City Witches, Wiccans, Pagans and Heathens meetup, sent KCTV5 News the following statement:

"The Kansas City Pagan Community at large is an all inclusive group that embraces our diversity. We do not tolerate discrimination in any form, whether it is race, sex, gender identity, religion, or sexual orientation. We have been working diligently since we found out about this event to make It clear that these types of groups, not representative of Paganism, Heathenry or even Asatru, are not welcome here. We have not dine this through violence, nor do we condone violence. We have done our research and presented facts, specifically from the AFA, IBSAK and Mr. Wilton himself. This is not about Freedom of Speech or religion. This is about not opening a door for white supremacist groups in our community. Not giving them a voice or platform. We love our city, our community. We do not want this here."

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