As a Christian and social researcher, I have heard many stories over the years of religious discrimination in the workplace. Some are compelling and troubling, others are trivial and frivolous. And it seems like the workplace climate may be getting worse: the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) considered 3,721 religious discrimination complaints in 2013, up from 1,709 in 1997.

But the EEOC drops about four in ten of those complaints—a figure that's remarkably stable across religions. One big reason is that discrimination can be surprisingly difficult to prove. If a member of a social group is treated badly, is it because of their social group? Was he laid off because his boss was tired of giving him Sundays off? Was she reassigned because customers were wary of being served by a Muslim in a headscarf? Were they discriminated against, or do bad things just happen?

I started wondering: How bad is religious discrimination in America, really? Horror stories abound. But are they examples of a systemic problem, or a few bad actors? Do some groups have it worse than others?

My colleague Michael Wallace and I conducted a large-scale field study to test for religious discrimination in one area of public life: the job application process. We found that not only is religious discrimination alive and well, it is so strong that simply adding one word to a résumé—a reference to a particular religion—reduced employer callbacks by almost 40 percent.

What 9,600 Résumés Reveal

We started by creating four résumés, each one describing a fictitious job applicant who had just graduated from college. Two of the applicants were men, two were women. Their names ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

June
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
Gleanings: June 2014 Subscriber Access Only
Important developments in the church and the world (as they appeared in our June issue).
RecommendedWhy Tim Keller Wants You to Stay in That Job You Hate
Why Tim Keller Wants You to Stay in That Job You Hate
The Redeemer pastor explains how he ministers to laypeople facing career confusion.
TrendingThe Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
The Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
How the former FBI director’s interest in Reinhold Niebuhr shaped his approach to political power.
Editor's PickSasse: Adolescence Is a Gift, but Extended Adolescence Is a Trap
Ben Sasse: Adolescence Is a Gift, but Extended Adolescence Is a Trap
The Nebraska senator wants parents to get serious about shepherding kids into responsible adulthood.
Christianity Today
Your Faith Might Cost You Your Next Job
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.