Have you applied for a job recently and were unexpectedly turned down? Did you include involvement with a religious organization on your résumé? That could be your problem. According to a recent study released by the Southern Sociology Society, résumés that include faith affiliations are 26% less likely to be contacted by employers. Researchers at the Southern Sociology Society sent out 3,200 fake résumés: a control group of résumés that did not have any religious affiliations and résumés with various religious affiliations indicated by membership in a religious organization in college. Applicants who did not include any indication of religious affiliation on their résumé were preferred by employers. The study’s findings reveal that employers are increasingly discriminating in the workplace against those professing strong religious beliefs.
In addition to reporting these findings, the study goes on to suggest that applicants “should not publicly display" their religious affiliations in order to improve their résumés.
What does this say about our society? Citizens are advised to hide their religious beliefs so it will be easier to get a job. Shouldn’t we be advising employers to stop discriminating against applicants just because of their religious beliefs? The First Amendment of the Constitution clearly lays out this fundamental right to freedom of religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” So why does the study suggest that Americans need to restrict their free exercise of religion in order to get a job?
Unfortunately, religious discrimination in the workplace has been escalating in recent years. Studies like this one exemplify the need for more protections for religious liberty in our state and in our country. The purpose of religious liberty is not that everyone must hide their faith for fear of offending others; rather, everyone should be allowed to express their faith in public without fear of being punished.
Admittedly, I had a moment of panic while reading this study: how am I supposed to get a job after graduation with involvement in a Christian group in college and an internship at The Family Foundation on my résumé? According to this study, it’s going to be very difficult. In an already unfavorable job market, applicants with strong religious convictions should not be put at even more of a disadvantage when searching for a job. Not only is it simply unfair, it conflicts with our fundamental right to free exercise of religion.
Admin note: This post was written by Natalie Wyman, one of our 2014 summer college interns.