The Troth, formerly the Ring of Troth, is an American-based international heathen organization. The organization was founded on December 20 (Mothers' Night), 1987 by former Ásatrú Free Assembly members Edred Thorsson and James Chisholm. However, neither is any longer involved with the organization. The current Steersman is Steven T. Abell.
The Troth is recognized as a non-profit corporation in the state of Texas and recognized by the state of New York as a 501(c)(3) non-profit religious organization. It hosts a yearly June meeting called Trothmoot. Trothmoot 2012 was held at Camp Netimus in Milford, Pennsylvania.
Objectives and organization
The Troth defines itself as a church of Germanic Heathenry open to all the forms of the religion (Asatru, Forn Sed, Urglaawe, Theodism, and others) international in scope, with training clergy, promoting cooperation and community, and providing information and educational publications as objectives. The Mission Statement refers to the ancient virtues of "Boldness, Truth, Honor, Troth, Self-Rule, Hospitality, Industry, Self-Reliance, Steadfastness, Equality, Strength, Wisdom, Generosity, and Family Responsibility."
The Ring of Troth was founded in 1987, at the same time as the Ásatrú Alliance, both emerging from the wreckage of the Ásatrú Free Assembly, which had disintegrated over disputes between the racist and the non-racist factions. The organization suffered a series of setbacks and disasters during the late 1980s to early 1990s. The leadership of both Thorsson and Chisholm became controversial because of their association with the Satanist Temple of Set. In 1988 to 1989, Rob Meek campaigned against the "Satanist infiltration" of the group. The Ásatrú Alliance in 1989 declared that there could be no association of Ásatrú and Satanism. In 1991, Thorsson and Chisholm sought for a new leader (Steersman) of the group, as it had become clear that they were too controversial to fill this position. The office of Steerswoman was eventually accepted by Prudence Priest in 1992. Internal controversy continued to plague the group, however, including accusations that Priest was intending to pass leadership back to Thorsson and attempting to marginalize the increasingly influential Stephan Grundy. As a consequence, Priest was ousted by William Bainbridge in 1995, who took over as interim Steersman. By the mid-1990s, the Troth, now led by William Bainbridge, had emerged as a stable organization with a wide spectrum of members situated "squarely within the Wiccan/neopagan community". Bainbridge was followed by Diana Paxson (1999), Stefn Thorsman (2002), Mark Donegan (2006), Victoria Clare (2010).
Approach within heathenry
The Troth is prominent in the non-racialist, inclusionary branch of modern-day heathenry. The organization's statement of purpose and bylaws refer to "non-discriminatory groups and individuals" and specify that "Discrimination [based on criteria such as race, gender, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation] shall not be practiced by The Troth, its programs, departments, officers, or any affiliated group, whether in membership decisions or the conduct of any of its activities."
Edred Thorsson intended the Ring of Troth to be based on scholarship and provide priests trained to high academic standards. While few members have achieved graduate degrees as he envisaged, the organization has been a prominent source of scholarly information within heathenry.
Ring of Troth Europe
The German Eldaring started in 2000 as a partner society of The Troth, and was officially founded and registered in 2002. As of 2008, it claimed some 200 members, and had an active internet forum with almost 5000 users. It claims political neutrality, and holds that "folkish" and (non-racial) universalism are not necessarily at odds.
- The Troth official website