Challenges of Authenticity

Don Frew, Gardinarian Elder

In 1985, Don Frew was elected Public Information Officer for the Covenant of the Goddess. In that capacity he served as the primary outreach person and interface between CoG and the worlds of media, law enforcement, government, and the public in general.  At the time, CoG was the largest, most diverse religious organization for Witches on Earth (welcoming Witches of all Traditions as well as Eclectics), and Witches were the vast majority of Neopagans, so by default – and through no choice of my own – Frew became spokesperson for an entire movement.  

After all, no amount of “Well, many of us think this, but there are also many who think that.” and “a popular view is this, but there are alternatives” and “Witches aren’t the only kind of Neopagans, and Wiccans are a subset of Witches” , etc. etc. would keep a listener or an audience from leaving with the view that “All Pagans think this.”  If the conversation was reduced to an “elevator speech” the problem was magnified dramatically.

From the beginning, Frew’s job was a dance between authentically representing himself, representing his community, and effectively communicatingin a way that ensured the maximum likelihood of true understanding.  As a Public Information Officer and later National Interfaith Representative for CoG, and then as a Board member or Trustee of various local, regional, national, and international interfaith organizations, Frew continued this dance for over 35 years as our community has become increasingly diverse and complex… to the point that many question the use of the phrase “our community”.Frew addressed the challenge of authentically representing an increasingly diverse community undergoing change at an exponential rate as a participant who has been on the frontline of facing the problems and makes observations – especially from the interfaith movement – that might prove useful.