My office recently received a flyer to advertise a program to combat violence. It was labeled as “Women of Faith: Voices Against Violence” and the program was described as a “Consciousness-Raising Multi-Faith Service and Ceremonial Walk Celebrating Women’s Power and Presence”.
The flyer described who was being invited to take part: “We are Baha’i, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hare Krishnas, Humanists, Muslims, Sikhs, Unitarian Universalists, and more.” And it had separate comprehensive lists for the various ethnicities and professions.
Note the inclusion of humanists in the list. As the fact sinks in that nonbelievers are now a large fraction of the community, they are being explicitly invited to join in such coalitions to fight for common secular goals. In my own university, an administration effort to establish an interfaith alliance and an interfaith chaplaincy explicitly invited me, as the advisor to the campus skeptics group, to be part of the planning so that the needs of nonbelieving students would not be ignored. These are good things.
Many of these coalitions are for extremely worthy causes that I feel comfortable joining join. And identifying groups by name and asking them to come together is often an effective way of getting people to recognize that differences in one area need not prevent people working together in other areas. But atheists of all stripes do not really have a ‘faith’ and some might find it a bit off-putting to be part of an interfaith or multi-faith grouping. It is not really a deal breaker, at least for me personally. I would take part in such an effort even if it gave rise to the misconception that I am a ‘person of faith’, which I am manifestly not, because the cause is good and I can defend my lack of religious faith elsewhere in other forums.
But it would nice to have an inclusive umbrella label that would include believers and non-believers alike but for the life of me I have not been able to come up with one.