I subscribe to a couple listservs through the UW that target both student and professional positions, and one of the emails that made the rounds this morning advertised a Library Assistant position opening up in Cataloguing at Seattle Pacific University. In a frenzy of excitement, I clicked on the job description, decided to ignore the fact that I don't have any direct experience in cataloguing (yet), and got to work filling out a job profile during my morning break that I never ever take.
About two questions in, I noticed something odd about the tone of the application. I was asked to read the mission statement and statement of faith of the university and state whether or not I agreed and supported them. Normally, I'd have just not read them at all, clicked the Yes button, and gone on without a second thought like 98% of the other applicants will probably do. But I was curious, so I actually read them. And got extremely uncomfortable extremely fast. One of the options regarding your opinion of the mission and faith statements was a "Yes, with the following reservations:" button followed by a text box, and I wrote a basic "was raised Christian, now no longer follow the faith, still have the highest respect for people who choose to do so" blurb, and moved on.
The next two questions basically assumed I'd answered Yes in my support of the mission and faith statements. They asked me to explain in detail my assumed personal relationship with Jesus Christ and about my assumed involvement with a church or youth group, including any leadership roles I had taken. At this point, I clicked out of the application, and I'm still debating whether or not to continue it.
I feel like I'm an extremely accepting person when it comes to issues of faith. While my personal church-going experience has been mostly negative (leading to a current diagnosis of "I don't know what the hell I believe" and a definite aversion to most church-related activities), I have zero problems with other people's beliefs as long as they aren't getting shoved down my throat. To be confronted with these questions of faith in a job application really made me stop and think: should I go through with this application even though I can't justify being anything but totally honest about my lack of faith? And if I do decide to apply, would I be ruled out from the get go because I don't ascribe to their particular brand of belief? Is it more valuable in the long run to be honest on a job application than to just say what you think they want to hear?
Interesting thoughts, for sure. On a happier note, please read this. It totally made my afternoon.