Job-seeking Muslim college grads are much less likely to hear back from potential employers if they include faith ties on their resume, according to two new studies.

Got religion on campus? Leave it off your resume

(RNS) Recent college grads, take note: Mentioning a campus religion group on your resume -- particularly a Muslim club -- may lead to significantly fewer job opportunities.

Job-seeking Muslim college grads are much less likely to hear back from potential employers if they include faith ties on their resume, according to two new studies.

Job-seeking Muslim college grads are much less likely to hear back from potential employers if they include faith ties on their resume, according to two new studies.

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.

In the South, where researchers sent 3,200 resumes, those with a religious mention got 29 percent fewer email responses and 33 percent fewer phone calls than otherwise identical resumes with no faith ties according to the study, released by the Southern Sociological Society on their Social Currents site.

Muslims faced the sharpest discrimination with 38 percent fewer emails and 54 percent fewer phone calls to the voice mailboxes set up by the researchers.

In New England, 6,400 applications were sent to 1,600 job postings by employers. But applications mentioning any religious tie were 24 percent less likely to get a phone call, according to the study published in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility.

Again, Muslims bore the brunt of discrimination, receiving 32 percent fewer emails and 48 percent fewer phone calls. Catholics were 29 percent less likely to get a call and pagans were 27 percent less likely -- slightly better than the “Wallonian” applicants.

New Englander are a little more tolerant and they seemed not to care as much about religion. But in the South, the differences, particularly for applicants from minority religions show up more sharply, said Wallace.

While the study focused on entry-level jobs for new grads, Wallace said, "the bottom line message is that it is harmful to put it on your resume and this would relate to anybody at any point in their career.

"We have kind of a schizophrenic attitude toward religion in the U.S.," he said.  "We are a fairly religious country. We acknowledge religious freedom and religious diversity but at the same time, we don’t like it when religion is brought into public places such as the workplace or schools."



  1. I have definitely experience this to be true in my case. After being a pastor for 20 years I have found it incredibly difficult to find work. I have a Master’s Degree and a Doctorate in religion and theology and my only signifiant work history has to do with religion. Even though I have an amazing professional network inside and outside of religious groups and a wide range of transferable skills, I was unemployed for about year.

  2. God and Theology are, respectively: “Nothing” and “The study of Nothing.”
    So I’m not surprised to learn that they have no value in real life.

    Superstition has no place in a serious life.
    Naturally, it is of no use.

    Unlike Art, Science, History, and Philosophy which are culturally vital,
    Religion and Faith are empty vessels – ghosts of fossilized, discredited theories of ancient times.

    For example:
    What good would it do to have a person in your company who dedicated his College years proclaiming the “truth” of the Theology of Goddess Athena and the positive attributes of human blood sacrifice?

    Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, etc.
    It is all the same archaic nonsense.

  3. Sorry to hear it.
    I know many former Pastors in a similar situation.

  4. I’m curious what the results would have been if they’d included a Secular Humanist or Atheist category. Probably wouldn’t get hired anywhere in the south with that.

  5. They did include atheists, although it is unsurprising that RNS has chosen to minimize that point.

    I haven’t looked at the New England study yet, but in the Southern study atheists fared second-worst overall, behind Muslims. Evangelical Christians fared second-best, receiving fewer e-mails but not significantly fewer phone-calls from employers.

    Jewish applicants fared best, with no significant differences from the control group.

  6. I would trust almost any student
    who participated in a Secular group ANY DAY!

    Religion = irrationality, irresponsibility, obedience and fear

    Atheism = Rationality, responsibility, accepts facts.

  7. This is good. So good. Religion is just as inappropriate in the work place–unless that work place is church related–as it is to any degree in government. Our governments, local, state, and national, have been guilty of violation creep of the First Amendment of our Constitution.

    I am a Democrat, more or less, not at all a Republican, and I voted for Obama. However, he is as guilty as any other politicians of such church-state violations. His guilt followed his repeated promises during the 2008 campaign to correct the brazen church-state violations of the Bush/Cheney administration. He has done nothing, but continue them.

  8. Secular humanism and atheism are NOT religions.

  9. No they are foolish beliefs of ignorant peopel.

  10. As a Wallonian I am greatly concerned that our faith is considered in some way only as a useful tool to test the religious attitudes of others.

    We are a peaceful group which seeks only to study our scriptures, worship Wally and do good works. While we may not be as well known as Norbeckians or Gornicans, our faith is pure.

  11. In my 30+ years of schooling and working I’ve never once felt compelled to mention any religious affiliation on my CV or hiring applications. It simply was not an issue in the positions that I have held.

    Having reviewed other’s CVs over the years, I don’t bother to pay much attention even if they do list religious affiliation unless it was used to demonstrate some leadership or community activity with potential bearing on the position in question. I could care less, but if someone feels a need to mention it and harp on how religious they are, I would take that into consideration. That may lead to some follow-up Qs during personal interviews to make sure the person in question is not some religious nut job intent on inserting their beliefs into the workplace or interfering with their job duties.

  12. It is unfortunate that the author has chosen to add her own spin to the findings from a very good study. The authors’ own conclusions are as follows:

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

    Essentially, in the South where evangelical Christians predominate almost every other group is discriminated against, with Muslims, atheists and pagans having the worst of it. This suggests that religious discrimination in the workplace is prevalent and it stems from from the RELIGIOUS majority.

  13. Mormons often give a clue as to their religion on CVs, because it is such an advantage to have completed a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, especially if it meant becoming fluent in both a foreign language and the native cultural norms. Big employers actively recruit young Mormons for this experience, but also because of their moral standards and honesty.

  14. Oh read the paper. They didn’t mention their religious affiliation, they just added a line for a student club—either “University of Alabama Club” or “University of Alabama X Club,” with X being the name of a religion.

  15. No. Because leaving it off entirely is the best option. Evangelicals were net-net discriminated against too. It was just lower than some other groups. (Judaism, however, was a net plus above not mentioning it.)

  16. If you look at the paper, the effect for Evangelicals is not statistically significant for 6 out 8 metrics even by the (generous) one-tailed test (in line with their hypothesis). For Jews: it is not significant in any metric except with a post-hoc application of the two-tailed test – which they applied only because the data contradicted their original hypotheses.

  17. The position of these statements is going to have a clear impact on how they are received. If one posts the religious affiliation too high on the resume, then the position would indicate unsociable affinity to express faith. If it’s listed with community service and hobbies, one expects a well rounded person who has balance in their tact and manners.

    I challenge this premise and would encourage everyone to place the faith in the position of extra-mural interests, because it is not appropriate to assert faith within a business environment. We need to expect ethics from the community in order for our economy to function adequately. Our economy functions exceptionally because we have a cultural foundation of Judeo-Christian ethics. Evangelism starts with personal connections and loving individual communication.

  18. Said the athiest, who admittedly believes in nothing. Makes for an incredibly insightful basis for criticism.

  19. Yes it is. But in a secular society, its ok to discriminate against a religious worldview. And at the same time, it’s ok that they demand of the religious view no reciprocity of this ill will and complete submission to whatever logic vacuum they choose to base their mandate on. Welcome to hell.

  20. Why do you think it inappropriate to express faith in a business environment? Is it because that is what you are used to, or because you have actual rationale behind it

    Further, isn’t judaism a faith? Is it ok for jews but not muslim, christian, etc?

    I don’t really expect a response, as honestly I probably won’t follow up here so don’t ask you go to the trouble. Just posting to get you to question your own belief on the subject.

  21. Outside the churches, many people have a dim view of religious people as narrow-minded, bigoted, and even spiteful. In my company, several Christians have sadly validated this stereotype.

    Until religious people, especially Christians in this country, are once again known for their love, they can expect more implicit and even explicit discrimination.

  22. Atheists have beliefs. Just not supernatural ones which require faith in the absence of evidence.

    So yes, it does make for an incredible insightful basis of criticism. [Sarcasm doesn’t work as well in print as you thought 🙂 ]

    People who base their beliefs on what can be demonstrated and supported rationally with evidence are very insightful. Having to support a claim beyond an appeal to the irrational or supernatural provides clarity to many issues.

  23. Who is discriminating against you?

    Did someone tell you no when you tried to act in an uncivil and obnoxious manner?

    People who rail against secularism really are saying, “I don’t like the fact that the government isn’t run by my church”. Secularism is what guarantees religious freedom in a society. To be against it is to admit they don’t really like such things.

    Christians only make up 90% of the country and 100% of all of its leaders past and present. Its not like its some kind of oppressed minority group.

    Seriously, there is nothing sillier or more dishonest than martyrbaiting.

  24. Because it has a nasty habit of leading people to engage in uncivil behavior towards co-workers, employers, customers, and clients. Especially the kinds of aggressive expressions of faith Christians engage in when trying to evangelize. One is not expected to express their faith in the office beyond merely identification.

    Wearing a headscarf, turban or skullcap, beard, long skirt is a religious requirement. There is nothing uncivil about such things. This is not the same as using work time to pray, praying loudly, or trying to proselytize co-workers.

    If it makes you feel any better, open displays of partisan politics are also strongly discouraged in most office places for the same exact reason.

  25. Almost no employer wants a religious nutcase as an employee.

  26. I think it should be up to the individual , but they should have the choice, A group wants to start there day in prayer or Pledge of Allegiance Let them, It’s a free Country. This is why we have so many cultures coming to the America , because of the choices, and if you don’t won’t to pray or participate, Don’t, Nobody will make you. It’s like if you don’t like what’s on TV , You have the right to turn it off. Years ago Prayer was everywhere, now it’s not. We shouldn’t be made to quit because it’s offensive to others, They don’t have to pray with them. Life was simple and good all those years ago, I don’t know why they put in all of those changes in schools, and courts for no prayers, or Pledge of Allegiance.

  27. The article’s conclusion is wrong. Why should one hide such an important part of oneself?

    Would you even want a job where your employer is prejudiced against your religion?

  28. “…aggressive expressions of faith Christians engage in…” !?!?!?
    You must be a very thin skinned atheist, Larry. A Baptist harping on me at work about religion is in the same category as being hassled about the football team I root for. I let them flap their gums for a minute or two, then send them on there way. They shrug their shoulders and leave.
    You want to see “…aggressive expressions of faith…”??? Just look at what the Sunni’s are doing to the Shia’s in Iraq today. THAT is an “…aggressive [expression] of faith…”

  29. It’s important to keep in mind that companies that refuse to hire employees of certain religious backgrounds may miss out on exceptional talent and weaken their own position in a global workforce. Over 80% of the global population identifies with a religious group (, meaning that companies do business with religiously diverse populations and have religiously diverse workforces. At Tanenbaum (, we work with companies to help them leverage this religious diversity to provide a variety of bottom line benefits, including teamwork and collaboration, improved relationships between customers and clients, and insights into new and emerging markets.

  30. Must be rough to be so close-minded.
    After all, there is no real grounded human rights, human dignity, or free will in any real sense without Christian theological and philosophical grounding.
    But, I guess not everyone thinks that is important. We will pray for you nonetheless. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us and grant us your grace!

  31. ‎”Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

    —C.S. Lewis

Leave a Comment