The religious views of American professors

Here is a summary of a recent sociological study that examines the religious views of American professors:

In a recent article published in Sociology of Religion, sociologists Neil Gross and Solon Simmons use data from a new, nationally representative survey of American college and university professors to test the long-running assumption that higher education leads to irreligiousness. Based on their research, they argue that “while atheism and agnosticism are much more common among professors than within the U.S. population as a whole, religious skepticism represents a minority position, even among professors teaching at elite research universities.” This has been a long-running debate amongst those who study religiosity in higher education and pay attention to trends in societal secularization.

Gross and Simmons worked with a sample size of 1,417 professors, providing an approximate representation of the more than 630,000 professors teaching full-time in universities and colleges across the United States. It should be noted that they limited their study to professors who taught in departments granting an undergraduate degree. As such, professors teaching in medical faculties and law schools were not part of the sample.

There is a lot more information here including religious beliefs by academic discipline and religious affiliation of the professors.

The conclusion of the authors is that this refutes notions that people with high levels of education (“the intelligentsia”)  are necessarily at odds with religion.

It would then be interesting to follow up with these respondents and ask how they feel their faith (or lack of faith) interacts with their research and teaching.

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