Yesterday, a friend of mine sent me an AP report on this survey of college professors, which finds that the majority are religious believers of one sort or another -- or, at least, don't devoutly disbelieve in God.
Gosh. You mean I'm more mainstream than I thought?
A few years ago, I had a grad student who was doing some very cautious church-shopping, but also felt very self-conscious about it. She said that the attitude of most of her fellow students was that "smart people don't go to church."
My church is chock-filled with folks affiliated with UNR in one way or another. I've occasionally heard people in my department make statements critical of faith (usually specifically of Christianity), but they're a minority. We don't talk about it much, but my sense is that most of my colleagues, even if they're not religious themselves, are sympathetic to those of us who are.
I very rarely talk about my faith in the classroom, for obvious reasons -- it's a state school, for one thing, and most of the time the subject is simply irrelevant -- but last spring, we had some very loud protesters on campus who were yelling through bullhorns about how all gays would go to hell, waving placards about sin and eternal damnation, and so forth. It was horrible. I'm a free-speech fundamentalist, so I reluctantly conceded that they had a right to be there, but many people on campus were angry and on edge. Even if the content hadn't been so hate-filled, the heckling would have been unbearable just from the standpoint of noise pollution. While that stuff was going on, I did tell my students, "I'm a Christian, and I hope all of you understand that the people with the bullhorns don't speak for all of us." I also told at least one student, "If they're going to heaven, I'll take hell: the company will be better." The student giggled.
I think the obnoxious bullhorn-waving people were there because they thought that a university campus would be full of non-believers, ripe ground for saving souls. If so, I hope they read this survey and stay away from now on.
Do read the survey, if you're interested; there are all kinds of intriguing statistics about which fields, and which kinds of schools, have the highest and lowest number of religious professors. One has to take all of this with a grain of salt, of course, statistics often being statistically indistinguishable from spin. The bickering comments in response to the article are, in my experience, more typical of cyberspace than of academia. But then, I'm in an unusually civilized department.