This past week was the first week of term, and as students returned and prepared for classes there were many events for them to attend.
One of these was the Societies Fair, where all the student societies had stalls to promote their group and recruit new members. It was the Humanist Society's first time at this major promotional event. We doubled our numbers – almost twenty more people signed up on the spot! We also got over a hundred e-mails for our announcement list, so we'll probably have more people sign up when they see what cool things we do (and what cool people we are).
In addition to all that, I got to talk to people from the religious societies. (Our table was in the same area as theirs.) I learned a lot about the Baha'i faith from the folks over at the Baha'i stall. I met someone from the Jewish Society, who mentioned the diversity of their members – from conservative to secular. I chatted with folks from the Christian Union, who apparently coordinate several interfaith activities. And so on.
The full list is on the Student Association (EUSA) website. See us, tucked in there between the Alpha folks and the Islamic Society? When we first formed, this category was called “Faith groups”. I think it made sense for our society to be grouped with these others, but suddenly the category title was inaccurate. All it took was a quick request to EUSA, and it was changed to “Faith and belief systems”.
I really enjoyed talking with folks from the religious societies. Not only did I learn something about their beliefs and activities, but of course they learned something about humanism and our society's activities. Like our regular blood drive. (Okay, we've only been once so far, but we plan to go again after three months.) Several members of religious societies thought that would be a great idea – they might even join in next time.
Ramadan has just begun, the Muslim month of fasting which commemorates the revelation of the Qur'an to Muhammed. At the end of Ramadan, the Islamic Society invites non-Muslims to join them for a day of fasting. They collect sponsorship, and donate the money a charity. I think that it would be interesting to try this out myself.
From all this discussion about cooperation between our societies, a slight problem arose. What word do we use? If it's just between religious societies, the word interfaith is appropriate. But once humanists come along, we suddenly aren't all people of faith. So I need your suggestions.
Faith and ethical cooperation?
Sigh. Help!? We need something that doesn't sound like flavourless PC pap, but which does convey the idea of inclusive cooperation between people with different ethical and religious views.