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Study explores religion in resumes

Researchers say noting involvement in religious groups can affect landing a job

Posted: June 30, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 30, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Religious job-seekers and college applicants may have some revising to do on their resumes and applications, according to recent studies from a group of University of Connecticut students. 

Researchers correctly predicted the results of field experiments on the relationship between religious affiliation and hiring discrimination, which showed that mentioning involvement in religious groups on a resume hurts an applicant’s chances of hearing back from potential employers.

Wally Caddow, managing director at Trinity Classical Academy, says that his students could be feeling some religious discrimination in the college application process. The Academy has around 500 Christian students and about 110 Christian employees.

“We have had students who have been interviewed by Harvard and Yale multiple times, and their scores are well in their range,” Caddow said. “I don’t know what goes on in admissions rooms, but whether or not coming from a Christian school has an effect, one will never know.”

University researchers were aware during their studies that religious discrimination in schools and in the American workplace is on the rise.

“In the last 20 years, religious-based complaints filed by employees with the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission increased from 1,388 in 1992 to 3,790 in 2010,” UConn researchers reported.

The trend

Although the results varied, studies supported the researchers’ hypothesis: employers resist the entrance of religion into the workplace.

An applicant involved in a religious-named group was 24 percent less likely than a control group to receive a phone call from an employer, according to researcher’s first study on New England employers. The control group was composed of those resumes that mentioned a generic student organization like “The Student Alliance.”
Caddow’s opinion on this issue varies from case to case.

“I am a big proponent of businesses running their business as they see fit,” Caddow said. “If you want to hire someone of faith, that’s great. If you don’t, that’s fine as well.”

However, he believes that some employers tend to paint religious experiences with a broad brush.

“I think that there are some people who have a natural aversion to it because of some experiences that they have had in the past,” said Caddow. “There’s not a lot of tolerance for diversity of thought, and quite frankly, I think that affects things a lot.”

By region

Michael Wallace, a professor of sociology and the director of graduate studies at UConn, said the strength of the researcher’s studies is they show religious discrimination in two regions with very different religious climates.

“(New England) is cited as being most religiously tolerant and not as deeply passionate about religion,” Wallace said.

Southerners, however, are the most passionate about religious practice, according to a U.S. religious landscape survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Caddow too believes that geographical region can play a part in religious discrimination in schools and in the workplace. For example, based on his visits to Texas, he pointed out that there were “Christian schools on every corner,” while there are not as many in the Santa Clarita Valley.

However, Caddow believes that SCV is fairly open-minded in religious cases.

“I think our valley is religious and tolerant,” said Caddow. “Our community seems to have a lot of churches and religious activity here in town.”

He believes that where people go wrong is in discriminating and overlooking potential students and employees because of what they believe, and that Christians in general are just attempting to be considered as everyone else.


ricketzz: Posted: June 30, 2014 9:56 a.m.

"Religious" and "tolerant"? Sure.

ricketzz: Posted: June 30, 2014 9:59 a.m.

The schools in Texas are terrible. They teach revisionist history and creationist science. Christians are fine if they don't try to convert you to their madness. But they can't control themselves, it seems. That's why they get the added scrutiny; nobody wants to work with Ned Flanders.

Bobs: Posted: June 30, 2014 1:18 p.m.

So you would judge all religious people in the world based on a few extremist? Nice logic.

I am actively involved in religious groups. We collect food and clothes and donate them to various shelters, as well as other work in the community that helps people without questioning them.

If someone wants to judge me negatively based on that, I wouldn't want to work for them anyways.

chefgirl358: Posted: June 30, 2014 2:00 p.m.

Well they shouldn't be discriminated against, but they sure shouldn't get anything extra for it either. Why list it at all? I'm with Ricketzz, leave your religion at home. I don't want to work with Ned Flanders.

Bobs, good for you that you are doing something you enjoy. I don't judge you negatively based on that, but you aren't getting bonus points in my book either. Charity is about making YOU feel good, not about the actual deed. If it wasn't about you, you wouldn't bother mentioning it. I'm involved in activities for others as well, and they have absolutely nothing to do with religion. Does religion somehow make your activities superior? You think non-religious people don't do anything nice for others? I don't want to work with religous people who feel the need to proclaim they're religious because it's obvious they can't just keep it to themselves and come to work and do their job, I don't want to hear about your religious beliefs any more than you want to hear about why I'm not drinking the religious kool-aid.

stevehw: Posted: June 30, 2014 2:43 p.m.

Funny how everyone thinks it's *their* religion that's being discriminated against.

From the abstract:

"In general, Muslims, pagans and atheists suffered the highest levels of discriminatory treatment from employers, a fictitious religions group and Catholics experienced moderate levels, evangelical Christians encountered little, and Jews received no discernible discrimination."

stevehw: Posted: June 30, 2014 2:44 p.m.

Right on, chefgirl!

Bobs: Posted: June 30, 2014 5:19 p.m.

Who said I was asking for bonus points?

I do not preach. I do what I do because its the right thing, not to impress anyone. The workplace is not a place to preach. When you hold a position in a company, you are paid to do a job, not talk about religion, politics, watch soccer, or anything else. If you do, I have no problem with getting rid of that person.

Bottom line, I am all for a private business hiring the best person for a job, or whomever they wish, but lets be honest that has never been the case in this country since affirmative action. I don't necessarily agree with it but its the law. "Hire without regard to race, religion, sex and national origin". I guess we can cross off religion.

chefgirl358: Posted: June 30, 2014 6:35 p.m.


The article talks about people being discriminated against for mentioning religious affiliation on college applications and resumes. Why would anyone even bother to mention their religious affiliations on a resume or college application or in an interview? That's what I don't get.

I wouldn't mention that I'm not religious in any of those instances, just as I wouldn't mention that I enjoy cooking, scrapbooking, or walking on the beach. I am only guessing here, but I would think the applicants would mention religion because they assumed it would actually give them an edge or make them seem like better candidates.

I agree wholeheartedly with your statement about hiring the best person for the job, regardless of what groups they identify with (race, religion, sex, etc., etc.). I would never discriminate against someone BECAUSE they're religious, I'm just saying I don't want to hear them preaching about their beliefs, probably just as much as they don't want to hear my opinions about religion either. But I wouldn't not hire someone because of their religion. But in order to keep from being discriminated against, people shouldn't even list it, just like they shouldn't actually list their sexual preference, whether or not they are a smoker, drinker, etc.

Don't you agree that people applying for pretty much anything should just keep it to the subject matter? Like, here's my GPA, and any RELATED I build HUD homes in my free time and the person wants to be an architect. There's a correlation and nexus to the job.

ricketzz: Posted: July 1, 2014 9:45 a.m.

I don't think religion should be a factor either way and I wouldn't work for a company who demanded to know what or if I "believed". I have worked for Atheists and found them boorish and cruel toward the faithful on the shop floor. I do not belittle people for what they believe; I just want them to understand we all have our own system for getting through the day. If I don't ask for spiritual guidance don't offer it and we'll get along fine.

Bobs: Posted: July 1, 2014 12:09 p.m.


I think we are probably agreeing, just not saying it the same way.

As far as resume, it is common practice to list extracurricular activities. It helps fill out a resume and potentially shows leadership, accomplishments, initiative, community involvement, and personality. Not necessary, but for many a tipping point to whether you get that call for the interview over someone else with the same qualifications.

chefgirl358: Posted: July 1, 2014 12:50 p.m.


gotcha. Yes, I do think we agree.

Unreal: Posted: July 1, 2014 4:17 p.m.

"Charity" is not done by Christians to make the person performing a service "feel good".

The point is to work against what you want to do and to sacrifice for others.
This is not always easy nor does it always make you "feel good".

Christians believe that because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross to save us that we should "pay it forward" in Jesus name.

Also the bible says that to Jesus, whatever we do for others it is as if we do it for him.

I know if you have no faith you may do charity work to feel like you are helping and you are. Many people of no faith do good deeds. It just is not the same for Christians who are moved out of a love for Jesus to put aside their own wants and sacrifice in service for him.

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