Unlike some other traditions, those of us within the Northern Tradition have a scant sampling of prayer that has survived to us from antiquity. Primarily Sigdrifa’s Prayer, and occasionally a snippet of an epithet. This no doubt is the reason why I have long seen within Heathenry that newcomers yearn for examples that they can be inspired by or use within their own religious practice. Newcomers, and sometimes even those who may have been within this sphere of influence for some time, forget or don’t know that even in antiquity offerings could be quite personal and beyond the mere scope of physical goods. Words were deeply valued.
Odin is a god of many things, and here is an invocation I’ve created and I sing in devotion to him.
If you think this doesn’t impact you because it’s not in your community, this hate breeds like fire online with some videos viewed millions of times. It could be your neighbor, your friend’s brother, your coworker watching.
The hate isn’t just in Texas. The New Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement has known churches in not only the United States, but also in other countries too.
My community received a rude awakening in the last week, when suddenly we were in the news because a pastor was celebrating the tragic accidental death of a man from a pride event.
We had no idea hate of this level had moved in. Sometime during the pandemic, for reasons we still do not know they moved from the Sansom Park in the general Fort Worth area into my city.
After the initial shock, the immediate next question was just who are they, and where did they come from, and then several of us made a deep dive into some of the filthiest, vilest rhetoric I have ever had the misfortune of being subjected to. They bring to mind memories of Westboro Baptist.
Stedfast is part of the New Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement, this movement has no ties to any mainstream Baptist denomination, and should not be mistaken for a denomination. These are independent church-doms characterized by leaders who like autonomy. They NEW IFBM has some interconnected relationships between leaders and churches, but also a great deal of schisms, in fighting and difference of opinion. There is no centralized assembly or authority. That being said Stephen Anderson jump started the movement with the founding of his church Faithful World Baptist Church in 2005, and remains one of the key influencers of the movement.
They are characterized by their adherence to the King James Bible, traditional hymns (and avoidance of contemporary or rock worship music), a church leadership that is led by men with a pastor or preacher at each church, and supporting deacons typically. Women typically have no role in leadership within the church, and at many NEW IFBM churches are expected to be silent in church. They believe in hard-preaching (i.e., a fire and brimstone approach that you’re going to hell), and soul-winning (which is proselytizing/witnessing/evangelizing sinners to seek salvation in Christ. However, unlike many other Christian denominations they believe some people, such as LGBTQ persons can never be saved.
Suffice it to say the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have designated the NEW IFB movement as a hate group. The church follows the doctrine of Stephen Anderson, who hit the news back during the Obama presidency, when he said he wanted Obama dead and a member of his congregation showed up the next day at an Obama appearance in Phoenix, Arizona with an AR-15 (automatic assault rifle). So, there’s proof that their hateful rhetoric has stirred up their members. The original pastor of Stedfast Donnie Romero was a former member of Anderson’s congregation. Romero later resigned from Stedfast amid a sordid scandal involving misappropriation of church finances, gambling, drugs, and sex workers. Andersen stepped into the void of that transition and brought his choice Jonathan Shelley to become the new pastor of Stedfast church. There’s a lot more to the story, so much more you’d need a diagram to follow the network of New IFB movement churches, the satellite churches, the inter-relationships and schisms in between them.
all LGBTQ persons should commit suicide or be executed, all LGBTQ persons are pedophiles, this church also has a history of celebrating the Pulse Nightclub Mass Shooting, praising the actions of the mass murdering gunman, and praying for the death of the victims who were in ICU fighting for their lives
witches should be slaughtered (and apparently actress and comedian Sarah Silverman is a whore & witch that should die)
and so much more
History shows us that it’s usually women who are punished with the term ‘witchcraft’. (Although sometimes it was men as well). It could be dangerous for a woman to stand out, if she was perceived as being opinionated, if she just wasn’t liked by someone, if she bucked the leadership or patriarchy or possibly even an unwanted sexual advance would be labeled a witch to punish them. Sometimes women were called witches for knowledge to do with midwifery, because they were responsible for caring for the family and learned herb lore, or just because a mold was growing on the crop and someone ate bad food and went crazy. I have found no specific definition of what is witchcraft for Stedfast. They seem to lob the term about as it suits their ends. Such as when a pastor of the satellite Stedfast church in Florida went after Sarah Silverman. So, I’m left thinking that anyone who has ever used runes, tarot, read a horoscope, handled a voodoo doll. Anyone who calls themself a Wiccan, and probably other pagans and polytheists are most likely “witches” to them too, and therefore to them, they want us dead. So, all my witches, wiccans, pagans, polytheists, Cultus Deorum, Santerians, Hellenics, Kemetics, Asatru, Heathens, Shinto and Hindus, and so many more, please be aware of this threat.
I have long been an ally of the LGBTQ community, as I have both friends and family who identify as such. But I had always shied away from donning the rainbow myself in support. Why? Because my dating life as a cisgender heterosexual has been lackluster, and I didn’t want to send mixed signals to confuse matters more as a potential obstacle in my search to find a love match. But when this showed up in my backyard, I immediately found myself trying to find anything rainbow in my clothes or accessories I could don, and resisting the urge to go on such a shopping spree that all the rainbow being shipped to my house would turn the amazon packages on the porch into pots of gold.
I personally do wholeheartedly believe in the separation of church and state. I don’t want the government proclaiming that one religion is worthy and another not. I don’t want a theocracy to arise either. I’m also a believer in the freedom of religion, and freedom of speech outlined to us in the US Constitution. For those unfamiliar with it, the US government doesn’t recognize religion beyond our taxation arm recognizing that something meets prescribed requirements for non-profit status such as charities, and religious organizations. While the common citizen may talk about hate speech, while some businesses may have policies against it, when it comes to the US government there is no legal definition of hate speech in our law. The closest we come is from US Supreme Court decisions impacting our freedom of speech, where there have been rulings about incitement to violence. As vile and reprehensible as the statements by NEW IFB members have been, and from Stedfast in particular they are very careful to toe that line. They may say a group of people they hate should be dead, that the government should execute them, or it’d be better if they killed themselves. They may celebrate that someone else did kill them, or they may say they prayed to God to kill them… but they don’t ever actually cross that line which would be them directly telling their congregation to go grab weapons and go out and start killing people. This means the only interference the government can do is if they do something illegal, whether it’s tax evasion, the investigation of a violent crime, or any of a range of things in between. Until then the government’s hands are tied, which they should be. No matter how much I wish the church was shut down.
I know how precious are freedoms are, and what a slippery slope it can be to go after another group, because doing so can erode your own rights. It’s like the old story of the golem of Prague, or the origin story of the Daleks from Dr Who, the protected class targeting those that were not to be protected, finds the mechanism turned on themselves. There may be a large number of religious views I don’t agree with, but I generally leave others to their own faith. But I draw the line at hateful rhetoric that equals the desire for the deaths of others. So, I am exercising my rights as a private citizen to Freedom of speech. Starting last Sunday, myself and other members of the community took a peaceful stand on the sidewalk in front of Stedfast, because hate is a virus. We want our neighbors to know what is in our midst. We want to stand as an example of something different then what they are preaching. Maybe we can change some hearts. But we also want for those targeted by the hateful rhetoric of the church to know they aren’t alone. There are people who welcome them in our community. That so many members of the community are saying #NoHateInHurst.
We are also deeply concerned, many of us recognize how rhetoric like this can lead someone to becoming the next domestic terrorist. I don’t want my community to be known in connection to some future mass murderer egged on by hateful wishes for others to die.
So for all those in or near the Dallas / Fort Worth area of Texas who want to help take a stand for #NoHateInHurst, we will be making our PEACEFUL stand Wednesdays at 6:30pm, as well as Sundays at 10am & 5pm outside Stedfast in Hurst, Texas. A community organizer has been working with our local police department so they are aware of what we are doing. Our first sidewalk stance was June 27 (you can find pics and videos on my instagram), and as we get the word out, we’re growing in size. We just ask that you refrain from using obscenities or anything hateful so we can keep things family friendly. Please stay on the sidewalk and do not block driveways or roadways. Do not park in the church parking lot, and be mindful not to take away critical parking from nearby residents or businesses. If you plan to post on social media, please use the hashtag #NoHateInHurst. If you’re not in the area but want to help, then help us spread the word. I’m sure donations to local LGBQT non-profits would also help them support this marginalized community too. I recommend Dallas Hope Charities, and the Fort Worth Chapter of PFLAG