Asatru Free Assembly's Biography (Books)
The Asatru Folk Assembly, or AFA, an organization of Germanic neopaganism, is a US-headquartered, but international folkish Asatru organization, with chapters worldwide, founded by Stephen A. McNallen in 1994.
The AFA is recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit religious organization, or church and is headquartered in Grass Valley, California. The organization denounces racial supremacism. Still, McNallen believes in an "integral link between ancestry and religion, between biology and spirituality," and according to Jeffrey Kaplan the organization was founded in part to counteract rumored "universalist" tendencies he discerned in Ring of Troth.
The Asatru Free Assembly has its roots in the Viking Brotherhood which was founded by McNallen in 1972. McNallen was one of the earliest advocates of reconstructing Germanic Paganism in modern times. The Viking Brotherhood later evolved into the Asatru Free Assembly.
A group called the Asatru Free Assembly founded by McNallen and Stine in 1974 was disbanded in 1986, splitting into two successor organizations, the "folkish" Asatru Alliance, and the "universalist" The Troth. In 1986 the Asatru Free Assembly ceased operations, due to burnout and disputes within the membership. McNallen says that despite reports to the contrary, it was not to due to racial politics, but that he worked as a peace officer in Stephens County Texas sheriff's office jail and Sheila kept books for an oil company, and both were logging around sixty hours and forty hours per week, respectively, on Asatru-related matters. Both knew that they could not continue putting out this effort without financial compensation, which would allow them to cut back on these mundane jobs. When they approached the membership, the general reaction was negative. Some accused them of trying to "establish a priesthood" or of being "money hungry." Surprised and bruised by this rejection, they tried cutting back on membership services to make the job more manageable. This in turn caused more complaints among members. Realising this was a losing battle, both at the end of their financial and emotional resources, the AFA was disbanded, with the ashes turned over to Valgard Murray, leader of the Arizona Kindred, who used them as the foundation for the Asatru Alliance. McNallen took a sabbatical for several years, resuming publication of The Runestone in 1994 and forming the Asatru Folk Assembly in 1995. He continues to lead this organization today.
Eight years later, in 1994, McNallen formed the Asatru Folk Assembly, intending it to be the successor organization to the Asatru Free Assembly. The defunct Asatru Free Assembly is sometimes distinguished from the newer Asatru Folk Assembly by the usage of "old AFA" and "new AFA", respectively. From 1997-2002, the AFA was a member organization of the International Asatru-Odinic Alliance.
In 1999, the assembly almost acquired land in northern California, aiming to base a communal project with room for agriculture and religious worship. However, the organization never held legal title to the land. Upon promises that the subject piece of land would be donated, some members of the AFA built a simple Hof on the land, after which the actual owner of the land chose not to donate it.
In the late 1990s, the assembly got involved with the protracted fight over the remains of the so-called Kennewick Man: they claimed that these were the remains of a European ancestor and were allowed to approach, but not touch, the coffin holding him.
In May 2013, the AFA purchased the rights to many of Edred Thorsson's books formerly published by Runa-Raven Press.
In August 2015 the AFA acquired an old Grange Hall (built 1938), called Newgrange Hall Asatru Hof by the AFA, to be used as a Hof and community center. The property is located at 8408 La Porte Road, Brownsville, California 95919, grid reference, 39.452351000000, -121.294579000000, and was formerly the Youth Center of the Mountaintop Christian Academy of CA, and at another time the Marge Moore Youth Center.