You can't get the river to stay in a box for long, and definitions are the same way. But we have to start with what we've got in our hands.

Would it be fair to say that the heart of folk music in the northeast, including Pete Seeger and James Taylor would be secular humanism? And the best of the best tunes are secular hymns? James Taylor coined that phrase: secular hymns to describe some of his music.
I think about how much good is done with this kind of music, getting people to sing along and feel part of something bigger than themselves at least for a time; challenging the boundaries that grow around us if we let them.

With this in mind, I would like to suggest that the message behind folk music, especially in the northeast is that we are people first. Politics don't matter so much, people do. Our shared humanity is something we all ought to be able to agree on. And sometimes a wonderful thing happens when the right song is sung.
Some folks a little further down the road are saying that we are spirit first. (And maybe from the larger view, they're right). But for now, it is enough that we can sing together. Because when we stand, we stand as one. And that's enough. (For now).
We are People of the river, people of the sea / people of the mountain, all are free / people of the hillside, and the valley below / all are you and me
There is a mighty river, called every different tribe . . .