Protect and Defend

Welcome to my blog, Protect and Defend. You don’t have to understand me. You only have to agree with me. I can live with losing the good fight, but I can not live with not fighting that good fight at all. - Publius

Friday, July 28, 2006

Viking Killings

From the Washington Post (Thursday, July 27, 2006; B01).

Execution of Pagan Devotee Set for Tonight

Va. Man Who Worships Norse Gods Cites Religion in Slaying of Fellow Inmate

It is often said that inmates find God when they get to prison. That is only partly true for Michael Lenz. Once behind bars, he became a devoted pagan, worshipping multiple gods from Norse mythology -- some with familiar names such as the mighty Thor and his father, Odin.
Lenz, a drifter from Prince William County serving 29 years and 30 days in prison for burglary and firearm possession, converted to Asatru, an ancient heathen religion, and helped found a prison chapter called Ironwood Kindred.
The religion became the focal point of his life -- "the only thing that mattered to him," according to legal documents. And it was this devotion to his gods that, according to his testimony, prompted him to plan a murderous ambush at a makeshift pagan altar set up in a prison conference room.
Tonight, Lenz, who still practices Asatru from his cell on Virginia's death row, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection for killing in the name of his gods. He has applied for a stay of execution by the U.S. Supreme Court and for clemency from Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D).
Lenz is one of a few inmates in Virginia prisons who practice Asatru. But in prisons across the United States, the number of converts has increased in recent years, according to experts, some of whom say prisoners find encouragement for violence in the gods they worship.
"This is a warrior thing," said Heidi Beirich, deputy director of the Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups and extremist organizations. "What they take out of it is violence, physical dominance and racial purity. To them, Thor represents the ultimate white male."
Beirich said many of the inmates who have converted to Asatru or Odinism are white supremacists. "It is anti-Christian, and these particular pagan religions glorify deities created by the white race," she said. "They reflect values they are drawn to, like being really strong, being able to fight -- Thor with his hammer. And that's what they worship."
Beirich said there are racist and nonracist versions of the religion in prisons and among the general population.
Stephen McNallen, director of the Asatru Folk Assembly, a leading Asatru group in the United States, has been fielding calls from the media as Lenz's execution approaches.
"There is nothing in Asatru that would justify what he did," McNallen said of the killing by Lenz and Jeffrey Remington, Lenz's best friend, who also was an Asatru devotee…
"The best way to describe Asatru is to compare it with other native religions: Native American or other native or indigenous religions in any location on the globe," McNallen said in a telephone interview from his California home. "We are a group of people attempting to follow the way of our ancestors and look toward our ancestors as a source of spiritual comfort, nourishment and connection."
He estimated that 10,000 to 20,000 people in the United States share his religious beliefs and only a small percentage of devotees -- less than 5 percent -- are white supremacists. He guessed that a good number of those people are prison inmates…
Lenz's attorney, Jennifer L. Givens, said that Lenz's religion surely played a role in the killing but that the jury should have been told about Parker's history of violence. Her appeal to the Supreme Court is also based on the fact that a juror was reading a Bible during deliberations.

I have never heard of this religion, or knew anything about it until this article. But it makes about as much sense as any other multiple-God religions. But, how is it a white-supremacist religion? Are Hindus Indian Supremacists? I am sure there must be some “violent” God in their religion too.


Blogger Rogue Mariner said...

Never heard of it either, until this case. Sounds like another wingnut who found a religion that he thought justified him being a jackass, based on his "interpretation" of it. It seems every religion has a group like that. Even Christianity.

Tue Aug 01, 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger quakerdave said...

If you check out a few White Supremicist web sites, you will see many references to this "religion," and to Norse mythology in general. Neo-Nazi types who aren't into the so-called "Christian Identity" thing frequently seem to favor this particular "faith."

Hey, it's a "warrior thing."

Wed Aug 02, 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Rogue Mariner said...

Well I guess it could be worse, they could all be claiming to be Samauri, shooting bow and arrows and swinging swords. BUSHIDO!

Thu Aug 03, 05:26:00 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Sorry QD, I guess I have just not spent enough time on White Supremacist websites to know. But to me it is no different that worshipping a tree or having 1,000 different gods for a 1,000 different things. But, don’t condemn the religion because of the actions of a few is what we are told right? Or do you want to explain to me how this is any different from Muslim terrorists who kill in the name of Allah?

Thu Aug 03, 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger quakerdave said...

Oh, it's no different at all. Except for the fact that most of the time, the only time you see references to this as a "current religion" is in relation to racists, usually of the skinhead ilk.

(I'm working on a novel for young adults about skinheads, which is why I spent a lot of time exploring this subject over the last two years or so. I prefer not to frequent white supremicist websites, especially without benefit of a haz-mat suit and antibiotics.)

Thu Aug 03, 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

A novel for young adults about skinheads? I assume it is going to be about not joining a skinhead group? I am against the whole Nazi skinhead thing myself. My grandfathers fought a war to protect this country from the Nazis, so there is no way in h-e-l-l that I am going to go around and support something long since buried and gone. But, I do so how or why white kids would get involved, as a means to belong and show some sort of pride of white pride; when you take away all the other avenues something like skinhead groups is the only other alternative.

Fri Aug 04, 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger quakerdave said...

Yup: "skinheads are bad." The project is gathering dust, however: another book came out a year or so ago with a very similar plotline to the one I had developed, so it's on the far back burner for the foreseeable future.

Some other idea will hopefully bear fruit: I got a million of those...

Sat Aug 05, 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

QD, how about a book about the rambling discussions between a 40-something Philadelphia liberal Quaker, and a 20-something Virginia conservative Catholic? It is like a modern-day political odd-couple.

Sun Aug 06, 02:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met a "family" who is into this garbage a few weeks ago. They are married, she's much younger, young child, he is the most miserable, angry toddler I've ever seen, so sad. I know toddlers commonly hit each other, but this poor baby, is CONSTANTLY hitting others for NO reason at all. The "Husband" is an ex-con of course, did major time, I'm sure that's where he found their wonderful "religion", he brings other "women" (some prostitutes I'm sure) into their bed, and has his poor "wife" convinced it's cool and "right". She said she'll tell their son when he asks that "Daddy and Mommy love each other SO much that they are not jealous to have others!" OK. How about, "Mommy and Daddy love each other SO much that they are strong enough to FORSAKE all others!", Sure is funny that's it's only ever another female for HIS enjoyment obviously! And they consider themselves "religious" with the garbage on this site. These people are losers, and all of their types are losers. Hateful, violence mongers, uneducated, think worshipping some old beared Viking is a religion, I obviously CANNOT stand these "types" they make me physically ill, but even more so when they bring innocent children into the world, "parent" like crap, 99% have substance-abuse problems, in/out prison, violence in the home, no education importance, etc., these kids don't stand a chance. So SAD :(

Thu Oct 25, 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asatru (Ásatrú) was the polytheistic religion of many Northern Europeans prior to the arrival of Christianity. Today Asatru is one of the officially recognized religious of Iceland, and the religion has seen a dramatic increase in the Baltic Countries, the Scandinavian Countries as well as in Great Britain, Germany and of course the United States. Michael Lenz (with whom this discussion originated) was a high school dropout, transient, convicted criminal and perennial loser before he adopted Asatru as a religion. Criminally oriented inmates frequently adopt religious trappings as a way of "getting over" and Michael Lenz's adoption of Asatru has no more bearing on the Asatru religion than Christian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has on Christianity. That those of lower intelligence should make a blanket condemnation of a specific religion they actually know little or nothing about is understandable -- 'tis the nature of the beast. That government's make a blanket condemnation of a specific religion they actually know little or nothing about -- is politics and politicians pandering to those of lower intelligence. Incidentally: the days of the week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday are all named after the ancient Asatru gods.

Sun Jul 15, 08:04:00 PM  

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