Day after day, week after week, month after month, religion-beat reporters receive emails from pollsters, academics and think-tank experts promoting new blasts of data about religion, politics, culture or some combination of the above.
Honestly, I think I could write a column a month about the material pouring out of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life without sinking into PR territory.
There is no way to write about all of these surveys. Some, quite frankly, appear to be probing questions so obscure that one wonders if anyone would have asked them, without grant money being involved in the process.
But not all.
The other day, I read a press release about a study probing the impact of religion on hiring practices in this new complex America in which we live. I filed it, hoping to get back to it in a week or so. Yes, guilt-file territory.
Veteran religion reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman — now with Religion News Service — went straight there, with sobering effect. The bottom line: Americans claim to respect religious faith, but there is evidence that they are getting nervous about that. This is especially true when it comes to religions — think Islam — that they think might be bad for business.
Thus, the headline: “Got religion on campus? Leave it off your resume.” Key material here:
Two new sociology studies find new graduates who included a religious mention on a resume were much less likely to hear back from potential employers. The studies used fictitious resumes — with bland names that signaled no particular race or ethnicity. These were sent to employers who posted on the CareerBuilder website to fill entry-level job openings in sales, information technology and other fields suitable for first jobs out of college.
The researchers tested seven religious categories including: Roman Catholic, evangelical Christian, atheist, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, and one faith they just made up, “Wallonian,” to see what would happen compared to people who made no faith reference.
Fewer employers called back the “Wallonians,” as well as the others, reacting to “a fear of the unknown,” said University of Connecticut sociology professor Michael Wallace who led the studies.
Yes, there are regional differences, but some themes stand out. The hurdles facing Muslim job applicants are obvious and exist everywhere. But is there a rising animus against Catholics in the Northeast?