Survey Suggests University Faculty Bias Toward Evangelicals

( [email protected] ) May 09, 2007 03:54 PM EDT

Over half of non-Evangelical university professors say they hold unfavorable views of Evangelical Christians, a new study showed. This group of believers was the only major religious denomination to elicit highly negative responses from faculty.

According to research by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR), only 30 percent of non-Evangelical university faculty says they hold positive views of Evangelicals while 56 percent of faculty in social sciences and humanities departments holds unfavorable views. Overall, 53 percent of non-Evangelical university faculty have unfavorable views.

"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, in the report. “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.”

Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, told The Washington Post that the poll does not reflect a form of religious bias, but rather "a political and cultural resistance" probably caused by "the particular kind of Republican Party activism that some Evangelicals have engaged in over the years, as well as what faculty perceive as the opposition to scientific objectivity among some Evangelicals."

According to the study, 71 percent of all faculty agreed: "This country would be better off if Christian fundamentalists kept their religious beliefs out of politics.”

The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of America's pre-eminent Evangelical leaders, argued, "The fact that such bias exists is significant in its own right, considering the fact that a majority of Americans at least claim to be Evangelical Christians," he wrote in his weblog on Tuesday. "The ideological chasm that increasingly divides the academic elite from the larger culture is in full view here. Many academics, by their own admission, look down upon Evangelical students, evangelical churches, and Evangelical citizens."

The IJCR survey also found that faculty's views of Evangelicals is likely linked to personal religiosity and political affiliation. Only 20 percent of those who say religion is very important to them and only 16 percent of Republicans have unfavorable views of Evangelicals. Among those who say religion is not important to them and among Democrats, 75 percent and 65 percent, respectively, hold unfavorable views.

On views toward other religious groups, one-third of all faculty hold unfavorable views of Mormon, 3 percent hold unfavorable feelings towards Jews, 4 percent towards Buddhists, 13 percent toward Catholics, and only 9 percent towards non-Evangelical Christians. Only 18 percent hold unfavorable views towards atheists.