Paul L. Caron

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Should Law Profs List Religious Affiliation on Their CVs?

Tax Prof Bridget Crawford (Pace) lists Ten Worst Things for a Law Prof Put on a CV, including "Religious affiliation or membership." Paul Horwitz (Alabama) asks, "Why did Bridget feel this belonged on the top ten list of things not to do? What exactly did she mean by it? Do we agree?"

I think it depends. The fairest reading of that very brief remark -- and I assume this was her meaning -- was not to list one's religion as, say, a separate line on the resume under the heading of "Religion," just as one wouldn't have an entry for "Marital Status" or "Race." That seems like pretty unobjectionable advice to me. But some might go further -- have, in my experience, gone further -- and say that an applicant should not give any indication of one's religion or religious affiliations, just as one should not give any indication of one's political affiliations. ...

I think there are perfectly reasonable arguments that the first kind of listing -- the straight-out listing of one's religion as a primary entry on the CV -- is improper, arguments that religious and non-religious people alike may share. The argument for not including any trace of one's religious involvements strikes me as more of a prudential or pragmatic argument: why bother including something, whether it involves your politics or your religion, that might hurt your job chances?

Bridget later responded to Paul:

For whatever it's worth, here is what I intended. I don't think it is ok to explicitly list one's marital status, race, religion, birthdate, or parenting status ("2 children: Jack and Jill") on one's academic CV. Or as Paul explained more clearly, I think it is inappropriate to "list one's religion as, say, a separate line on the resume under the heading of 'Religion,' just as one wouldn't have an entry for 'Marital Status' or 'Race.'" (Thanks, Paul!) As to listing activities/involvements/affiliations that tend to indicate any of those, I have no objection.

Rick Garnett (Notre Dame) comments:

If we are talking about one's "trying to get a job in law teaching CV", then I would think that one could quite reasonably believe that information suggesting a "conservative" bent would, at most schools, undermine one's chances of getting a job, and therefore decide not to indicate, even indirectly, one's religious affiliation or beliefs (unless, of course, that affiliation is one that is not associated by law professors with a "conservative" bent). That said, my own CV includes, at the end, a short section about community-related activities, and that section includes the fact that I serve on my parish's Pastoral Council and on my parish-school's School Board. I guess I don't think this is "TMI", given that I've made the decision to mention other community-service-type activities.

Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA) weighs in:

Given how relentlessly secular the modern American legal academy has become, it's not terribly surprising that Jim Lindgren's studies found that people of faith are highly underrepresented on law school faculties. So my advice is that applicants ought to at least consider the prudential approach. Whether you adopt it depends, I suppose, on which of the following two biblical principles you think is more important:

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.


Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.

I've done fine opting for the former approach, but I can certainly understand why somebody might want to opt for a more prudential approach to their first cv.

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Personally I have concluded that if the institution does not want a religious person, then so be it. In my opinion the job is not worth compromising your ethics and religious beliefs. Hence if you are really spiritual, disclose it and if they do not like it, "that job" is not the place you should be.

Posted by: Nick | Sep 5, 2011 4:09:25 PM

Personal decision.

Posted by: Nick | Sep 5, 2011 4:06:08 PM