Many adherents of Odinism have been persecuted, mainly by Christians. Persecution may include unwarranted arrest, imprisonment, beating, torture, execution, confiscation or destruction of property, or incitement to hatred.
In some instances, medieval conversion of pagans to Christianity was forceful. Charlemagne, in the course of the Saxon Wars, converted Saxon pagans with violence. In 772 he destroyed their Irminsul, and in 782 he allegedly ordered the beheading of 4,500 Saxon nobles who were caught practicing paganism in spite of being baptized.
The Christianization of Northern Europe in the 11th century was accomplished with a significant amount of violence between pagan and Christian factions.
The conflict in Sweden was brought to a point between the pagan king Blot-Sweyn and his Christian brother-in-law Ingold I in the 1080s. After Ingold was forced into exile, he returned to Sweden in 1087, and having arrived at Old Uppsala, he surrounded the hall of Blot-Sweyn with his húskarls, and set the hall on fire, slaying the king as he escaped from the burning house. The burning of the Temple at Uppsala probably dates to the same time.
In 10th century Iceland, there was similar tension between the Christian and pagan factions, but violent clashes were avoided by the decision of the Althing in AD 1000 to put the arbitration between them to Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, who opted that the country should convert to Christianity as a whole, while pagan worship in private would continue to be tolerated.
In Nazi GermanyEdit
Although the SS had invented its own mystical religion (based very loosely upon upon imagery taken from Germanic tribal faiths combined with Christianity and "visions" from figures such as Guido von List) in order to counter what they viewed as the Jewish-influenced religion of Christianity. Nevertheless the leaders of the Nazi Party in Germany, according to their private (Hitler's Table Talk, page 61, translated by Norman Cameron and R.H. Stevens, 1953) and (Mein Kampf, chapter 12) did not wish to encourage forms of paganism which did not serve to further their goals of promoting pan-Germanic ethnic consciousness.
The Germanische Glaubens-Gemeinschaft was heavily suppressed by the Nazis in the 1930s. In 1933, the leader of GGG, Rudolf von Sebettendorff, was arrested and exiled. Being a current or former member of an Odinist organisation disqualified anyone from holding rank or office within the NSDAP. In 1936 the runemaster Friedrich Bernhard Marby, a follower of Guido von List's occult "ariosophic" Armanenschaft was arrested and sent to a concentration camp at Flossenberg. He was released from the Dachau concentration camp in 1945. Many other members ended up in the concentration camps, although as far as can be told only one member was actually killed.The full focus of the state was not aimed at religious groups until June 9 1941 when Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the security police, banned a large number of spiritual practices. The organisations were dissolved, their property confiscated, and many of their leaders arrested.
In the USAEdit
On November 10, 1999 the International Asatru/Odinic Alliance (IAOA) accused the FBI of violating its First Amendment rights to freedom of religion, free speech, and peaceful assembly. The reason given for this accusation was the propagation of numerous false statements and innuendos about the group in the FBI's "Project Megiddo" report.
In Texas, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice does not allow inmates to study or use the runes in any way. First they were not allowed to receive publications that contain runes, but after the runes were cut out the policy was changed so that inmates may not receive any Asatru publications. The prison authorities claim runes are related to hate groups and used as 'secret codes' for communications between gang members
According to Mark Pitcavage, prisons differentiate between racist and non-racist Neopagans, saying that the racist women's group Sigrdrifa, which has chapters in the United States and Canada, runs a special "Odinism in Prison" project. Imprisoned right-wing terrorist David Lane, serving a 190-year sentence in federal prison, is one of the principal propagandists for a violently racist version of Odinism called Wotanism.