The city council of a small Minnesota town voted Wednesday to allow a white supremacist congregation to take over an abandoned Lutheran church, according to a report.
Members of the Murdock City Council voted via Zoom with their cameras turned off to keep the controversial voice vote anonymous. Only one of the council’s five members could be heard voting no, The Star Tribune reported.
The white supremecist group, called the Asatru Folk Assembly, practices a version of paganism that it calls a “pre-Christian, European spirituality,” according to its website.
“We in Asatru support strong, healthy white family relationships,” the group’s statement of ethics reads.
Council members told the outlet before the meeting that they stood against the group’s message, but that they feared voting against the measure would open the town to a religious freedom lawsuit.
“We as leaders of the city of Murdock want people to know that we condemn racism in all forms,” Mayor Craig Kavanagh said.
Wednesday’s vote sparked renewed outrage in the community — several community leaders had recently formed the Murdock Area Alliance Against Hate, a group that has already held several protests and organized a community education drive against the AFA.
“If the AFA approaches people and tries to do any recruiting, people are prepared and are aware of what kind of group they are,” co-founder Victoria Guillemard said.