Tuesday, August 30, 2016

For Heathen Service Folk

Hail!

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. Recent statements from the Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) that imply 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. 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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This post represents official Troth policy or is an official Troth statement.

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