Gary A. Tobin, Ph.D.
President, Institute for Jewish & Community Research
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Survey Reveals Religious Influence in Higher Education
Religion and Politics Tied Closely to Views of Evangelical Christians
San Francisco – (May 7, 2007) According to a two-year study released today by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR), 53% of non-Evangelical university faculty say they hold cool or unfavorable views of Evangelical Christians – the only major religious denomination to be viewed negatively by a majority of faculty. Only 30% of faculty hold positive views of Evangelicals, 56% of faculty in social sciences and humanities departments hold unfavorable views. Results were based on a nationally representative online survey of 1,269 faculty members at over 700 four-year colleges and universities. Margin of error is +/- 3%. The full report is available for download on IJCR's web site: www.jewishresearch.org.
The data released today suggests that dislike of evangelicals is likely linked to personal religiosity and to political affiliation: Only 20% of those faculty who say religion is very important to them and only 16% of Republicans have unfavorable views of Evangelicals; the percentages rise considerably for faculty who say religion is not important to them (75%) and among Democrats (65%).
The IJCR's survey, The Religious Identity and Behavior of College Faculty, is the second in a three-part series on the political and religious views of American faculty. Previously released research showed that professors are almost four times as likely to identify as liberal than as conservative, and that nearly two-thirds of American professors say their colleagues are reluctant to express their true opinions when those opinions contract dominant views on campus.
"This survey shows a disturbing level of prejudice or intolerance among U.S. faculty towards tens of millions of Evangelical Christians," said Gary Tobin, president of IJCR. "What's odd is that while a good number of faculty believe in a close, personal relationship with God and believe religion is essential to a child's upbringing, many of those same people feel deeply unfavorable toward of Evangelicals."
One-third of all faculty also hold unfavorable views of Mormons, and among social sciences and humanities faculty, the figure went up to 38%. Faculty views towards other religious groups are more positive: Only 3% of faculty hold cool/unfavorable feelings towards Jews and only 4% towards Buddhists. Only 13% hold cool/unfavorable views of Catholics and only 9% towards non-Evangelical Christians. Only 18% hold cool/unfavorable views towards atheists.
A significant majority – 71% of all faculty – agreed with the statement: "This country would be better off if Christian fundamentalists kept their religious beliefs out of politics." By comparison, only 38% of faculty disagreed that the country would be better off if Muslims became more politically organized.
The Institute for Jewish & Community Research is engaged in research and analysis on a broad range of issues including racial and religious identity, philanthropy, and higher education. The Institute is an independent, non-partisan think tank, and provides innovative research and pragmatic policy analyses to Jewish and other communities around the world.
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