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PEOPLE OF FAITH: popular years ago as an inclusive way to refer to believers of all creeds, "it

March 17, 2009

Summary: this phrase "became popular about 25 years ago as an ostensibly inclusive way of referring to believers of all creeds and religions, about a decade after 'people of color' was revived as an inclusive term for nonwhites. The phrase was actually introduced out of a New-Agey aversion to identifying with organized religions, but it soon caught on among conservative Christians who saw the advantages of comparing themselves to other oppressed groups," says Geoffrey Nunberg (/Talking Right/). "And /of faith/, like /of color/, was soon spun off as a suffix, so that you see references to 'journalists of faith,' 'physicians of faith,' and 'Texans of faith,' usually with the implication that those people are conservative Christians. In fact, unlike /religious believers/ or /churchgoers/, /people of faith/ implies a particular constituency in American life. 'Americans of faith' turns up more than 62,000 hits on Google, while phrases like 'Frenchmen of faith,' 'Englishmen of faith,' and 'Mexicans of faith' turn up none at all." For more information on the forthcoming Unspinning the Spin: The Women’s Media Center Guide to Accurate, Bias-Free Language, click here.