Following up on my previous posts:
Michael Simkovic USC), Law Professors Are More Religious Than Scientists, but It Probably Doesn’t Matter Much:
At Taxprof blog, Paul Caron (Dean, Pepperdine) covers a study by James Lindgren (Northwestern) about the religious beliefs and practices of law professors. Lindgren compares law professors to the overall U.S. population and finds that law professors are more likely to express doubts about the existence of God.
This study is part of a line of research from Lindgren and others which compares law professors to the general population or the median member of congress on dimensions like religious or political views. In my view, these comparison groups are uninformative and inappropriate for some of the uses to which they have been put. For example, some argue for hiring preferences for faculty members with certain supposedly under-represented ideological views.
Law professors should not be judged by their ideological beliefs, but by their academic rigor. Law professors should not be compared to the general U.S. population or members of congress, but rather to scientists. Like scientists, law professors are much more highly educated than the general population, have higher incomes, and have opted into a career where they are expected to advance knowledge, often by relying on data collection and analysis based on scientific principles of causal inference. Even non-empiricists are taught and teach that legal adjudication depends on application of legal rules and standards to facts and evidence, not on faith. (Brian Leiter notes that law professors are also more religious than philosophers).
Karen Sloan (Law.com), Whither The Religious Law Professor?:
An interesting article has been making the rounds in the legal blogosphere, and I can’t resist delving in a bit given the discussion it has generated. [The] paper is titled, “The Religious Beliefs, Practices, and Experiences of Law Professors.” The name is pretty self-explanatory. Author James Lindgren, a professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, surveyed about 500 law professors on their religion, whether they believe in God, whether they attend religious services, and whether they have ever experienced discrimination based on their religion or seen it happen to others, among other questions. ... The paper’s big takeaway is that law professors are significantly less religious and less likely to believe in God than both the general population as a whole, and those with advanced degrees. ...
My take: I guess the real question here is, do the religious affiliations and belief of law professors matter? Lindgren clearly thinks so. After all, why conduct the survey if it’s a moot point? But others aren’t so sure it does matter, and I’ll admit I’m on the fence about it.