One thing I have encountered during my time in academia was an anti-religious affiliation bias. That is, it wasn’t the study of religion per se that was the problem (the American Academy of Religion, for instance, is a large academic body to which I belong that is dedicated to studying religion). The problem was if one came across as being too committed to a particular religion or even “too involved,” it would negatively affect one’s chances at anything from conference papers to job interviews. Granted, this is not always the case, and there are differences between, say, applying for a theology position (or a theology panel) on the one hand and applying for a religious studies position (or a panel dedicated to religious theories) on the other. Within the last year, though, I have received feedback that I am “too religious.” My CV shows seminary education. One of my recommenders mentioned my two different seminaries and affiliations to trump my ecumenical perspective, for example, but it backfired in that the dept. saw me as too committed. In other cases, feedback has been that someone who is in ministry and/or has worn clerical collars at times to AAR and such is simply too inflexible. I have even encountered a bit of this within Orthodox-Catholic circles from those who do religious studies stuff (though there are some notable exceptions, including someone I would now consider a good friend of mine who was just hired for his first tenure track position for this fall).
This concern, however, is not merely a problem within the larger purview of academic studies of religion (of any field). It is also a problem everyone will need to navigate in the non-academic real world. This article highlights this recent trend. It affects you no matter where you work or live. If you mention volunteering or an involvement in a religiously based organization, you are less likely to receive an email, phone call, or interview. The discrimination was strongest in the south but it is true even in the Northeast. In other words, unless you are applying for a position at a religious non-profit, you are significantly hurting your chances of getting a job if you purposely (and I suspect even if you accidentally) let it be known that you have been or are involved with a religious organization.
I would highly recommend that everyone read the article. Religious diversity seems to be one form of diversity that many of us fear, regardless of our geography, politics, and religious adherence. If we do not fear it, a good number of our friends and neighbors will and do. Those of us who work in religious sectors (academic or non-profit) need to be especially aware of this if applying for jobs outside of those spheres.
Perhaps this all seems trite, but I would submit it is a real issue that Eastern Christian parishes in North America need to address. Most certainly the clergy do. Many such clergy work part time, if not full time and have to live rather “schizophrenic” lives. This is not always the case and most who do this were well aware of this difficulty before I ever thought of posting on it, but it is a factor. Making sure we navigate this sphere correctly in the short term will be vital to sustaining parish ministries in many places. For the long-term, we need to start advocating some kind of “Christian secularism.” I don’t have all the pieces in place for exactly what I mean by that yet, but certainly a more wide-spread openness to religious conversations in the public sphere would be a necessary component.