Breaking News
More () »

Lewis County shop has ties to 'whites only' religious group

The owner of a Lewis County shop appears to be linked to the Asatru Folk Assembly, which is known for opening a church exclusively for white people.

CENTRALIA, Wash. — A Lewis County store is selling art and music that is connected to a controversial religious group that only accepts white members.

County property records list the owner as Tanner Thayer, who appears to be linked to the Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA), a California-based organization that has branches across the country.

AFA made national news more than two years ago when it opened what was then billed as the sole “whites only” church in the U.S. in rural Murdock, Minnesota. The church says its members are required to be of northern European heritage. On its website, the AFA says, “We in Asatru support strong, healthy white family relationships” and “genetic heritage.”

The website also lists for sale Asatru hymns by Thayer, the same name on property records as the owner of the Centralia store.

KING 5 has been unable to reach Thayer.

Lewis County mental health counselor Katherine Thompson noticed the unnamed storefront on Tower Avenue that sells artwork and music during a recent night out in Centralia.  It was the word “Asatru” in a window banner that jumped out at her.

“When you hear people in Asatru talking about kin or heritage, they are not talking about all humankind. They are talking about white heritage,” Thompson said.

In a Facebook post last week, Centralia Mayor Kelly Smith Johnston said she visited the Tower Avenue store and spoke with Thayer who, she claimed, “…did not refute the idea that whites are superior.”

Members of Asatru have been organizing in Lewis County since at least 2018, according to public records.

“(The) fear is that this is actually starting to build momentum like a storm in Lewis County,” said Thompson of Asatru’s boldness to sell its wares in plain sight. “I’m scared. I’m scared for what’s going to happen to the people that live here.”

KING 5 reviewed records from the Washington Office of the Secretary of State that show at least two other Asatru organizations incorporated in Lewis County.  Asatru Land Union was founded in 2018 and then administratively dissolved. Asatru Northwest was incorporated as a “religious organization” last year.

Elizabeth MacBrygyde of Centralia, listed as an officer in both organizations, told KING 5 that her group is not connected to Thayer or the Asatru Folk Assembly. Records show that her group is affiliated with The Asatru Alliance in Payson, Arizona.

“It’s cast us in a very bad light,” MacBrygyde said of AFA. 

Nonetheless, MacBrygyde defended organizations that seek to represent white people.

“Everybody seems to be allowed to have their own ethnocentric, cultural ways except for white people.  Why is that?” she asked.

A man who appeared at the door of her Centralia home jumped into the conversation. The man did not identify himself but state records list Krystof W. MacBrygde as a governing officer of Asatru Northwest.

“We’re being persecuted, basically, because we’re white and we’re trying to do the same thing that other people are allowed to do without harassment.  Why does that sound fair?” he asked.

Asatru Alliance in Arizona did not respond to a message.

Thompson, who says she has been fighting racism for years, is concerned that Asatru’s beliefs will take hold in Lewis County.

“The dominant culture in America is white heritage,” Thompson said. “They don't need to go somewhere else to seclude themselves and have the power. They've already got it.”

Before You Leave, Check This Out