Casper Crowell is a busy man. He’s the spiritual leader of a religious non-profit organization, the Holy Nation of Odin, Inc. Crowell designs some of its greeting cards, which he sells along with a host of other merchandise on his group’s website. He also recruits followers through several MySpace pages, a blog and his own YouTube channel. He’s been interviewed for a National Geographic Channel documentary. And in 2007 he endorsed the presidential candidacy of Republican Ron Paul.
Crowell, 46, has done all of this and more while serving a life sentence for murder in a California maximum-security prison that also is home to the likes of Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan. He proclaims himself “the honorable allsherjargothi in the Holy Nation of Odin, Inc.” That’s from Old Norse meaning “the People’s (Folk’s) Priest/servant,” Crowell says. Membership is $40 a year, unless like Crowell, you’re incarcerated.
Racist versions of Odinism and its Icelandic version, Asatru, have become increasingly popular theologies among imprisoned racists and others on the radical right in recent years. Odinism features Norse gods such as Odin, the warlike father of all gods and men. The racist version advocates the ultimate triumph of a pure, white race.
So does Crowell, who calls himself “Dr. Casper Odinson Crowell” and sports a large swastika tattoo on his chest. He is a former leader in the violent and racist Aryan Brotherhood prison gang. He left that organization because it wasn’t pure enough for him.
After quitting the Aryan Brotherhood, Crowell busied himself with the Odinism organization, which lists his wife, Linda, as executive administrative director. Linda Crowell works for the Social Security Administration in Fresno.
Crowell also began another organization with a website called Vinland Folk Resistance that extols the virtues of Odinism and racism. On that website, he urged fellow white nationalists to resolve their differences and work toward one goal: “WHITE PRIDE!” His wife contributed an essay, “On Aryan Beauty.”
On the Vinland website, Crowell praised the “late and beloved Folk Patriot and Odinist, David Lane” and urged visitors to “fight for the mission of the 14 words.” Lane was the getaway driver when fellow members of the domestic terrorist group The Order murdered Alan Berg, a Denver radio show host, in 1984. He died in prison in May 2007 while serving a 190-year sentence for his role in the slaying. It was Lane who coined the “14 words” held dear by many white nationalists: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children.”
Crowell’s Odinism website shows names and photographs of other Holy Nation of Odin officials. Several appear to be prison inmates, like Crowell. One of them is Richard Kemp, a “recognized gothi” or priest. He appears to be the same Richard Kemp who was the youngest member of The Order, the neo-Nazi domestic terrorist group that in the early 1980s robbed armored cars and assassinated Denver Jewish talk show host Alan Berg, among other crimes. Kemp, 46, has served 24 years of a 60-year federal prison sentence imposed after he was convicted of armed robbery, conspiracy and racketeering. He’s scheduled to be released in January 2010.
Kemp’s criminal history isn’t mentioned on the website, and neither is Crowell’s. Instead, Odinism, the holy nation’s website informs you, is an ancient religion practiced in northern Europe before the advent of Christianity. “Self-realization and empowerment are at the heart of modern Odinism” which the website says consists of ancient and indigenous beliefs “comparable … to Native American-Indian spirituality.”
To help Odinists in their worship, the Holy Nation of Odin website offers lots of merchandise for sale. A Viking sword costs $350; a Viking tunic a mere $45. Viking drinking horns range from $25 to $85.
According to the Crowells’ MySpace page, “Dr. C” is “working on a book of his thoughts, articles and prose” intended to raise money for their two organizations. But for all his entrepreneurial activities, Crowell’s confinement places limitations on just how fast he can proceed. No publication date for his tome, therefore, is mentioned.
“Everything takes time … behind the wall,” his wife explained.