(November 10, 1999)
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Payson, Arizona USA -- Spokesmen for a religious group today charged the FBI with violating its First Amendment rights to freedom of religion, free speech, and peaceful assembly. The group also says the FBI and federal government are engaging in religious persecution, setting a dangerous precedent with ominous implications for all Americans. "False, misleading and deceptive information about our religion and its followers in an FBI report released in October about possible millennium-related violence raises grave concerns about the government's intentions," said Valgard Murray, head of the International Asatru/Odinic Alliance (IAOA), whose followers practice a pre-Christian European religion that honors its ancestors and celebrates its European heritage. The FBI report names Christian sects, Odinists, patriot groups, Constitutionalists and 2nd Amendment supporters as possible domestic terrorists. "Our nation's founders felt so strongly about our inalienable right to religious freedom without fear of governmental harassment that they placed it first in the Bill of Rights at the top of the First Amendment," Murray noted."Americans who support the Bill of Rights must question their government's efforts to vilify, demonize and even destroy a law-abiding religious minority through what amounts to a smear campaign based upon gross misrepresentations and outright lies," He added, "What's next? Will we be fed to the lions?"
"For the FBI to falsely assert that we pose a threat to our fellow citizens, and then release that information as factual to the media for broad dissemination, is frightening. Let's not forget the fate suffered by the Branch Davidians at Waco, at the hands of the federal government."
Murray cited numerous false statements and innuendoes about his group made in the FBI's "Project Megiddo" report -- named for a city some Christians believe will be the site of Armageddon. The report implies that Odinists may engage in year 2000 terrorism and pose a threat to domestic tranquility. "We have been falsely accused and found guilty in the court of public opinion through the FBI's actions," said Stephen McNallen, head of the California-based Asatru Folk Assembly, a member of the IAOA.
"Odinists will celebrate the beginning of our year 2250 on the Winter Solstice, our New Year's Eve. We practice a pre-Christian religion that does not recognize Armageddon or a second coming related to the Christian doctrine or calendar," said Osferth, who heads the Odinic Rite Vinland, the US section of the international Odinic Rite. "The FBI's suggestion that the year 2000, the second coming of Christ, or Armageddon have any significance to Odinists makes no sense whatsoever."
McNallen expressed concern about a "pattern of anti-European-American actions" by the government. His group is suing the federal government, demanding mitochondrial DNA testing on a 9300-year-old skeleton known as the Kennewick Man, who was identified as Caucasoid by various experts based upon skull and skeletal features. To date, the US government has blocked all DNA testing of the remains, which would reveal its ethnic origins in 30 days, instead claiming the bones belong to American Indians under federal law.
McNallen says the FBI report smacks of Soviet-style tactics that have forced religious people to go underground to practice their faith, often upon penalty of imprisonment or death. "The FBI's Megiddo report has already created a climate of fear and distrust of our folk in their local communities. FBI Director Louis Freeh needs to explain just what is going on here."
"It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself." -- Thomas Jefferson
FIRST AMENDMENT (Bill of Rights - Article I) to the Constitution of the United States Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
FBI and Project Megiddo: Updates
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