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Or an acceptable criteria for refusing someone a job?

There are some jobs that on their face would seem incompatible with certain types of people. I somehow doubt there are many Amish nuclear engineers.

Over at Boing Boing, Richard Dawkins has a piece which uses the case of Martin Gaskell as a jumping off point to ponder whether it should be okay to consider someone's religious belief, with Dawkins arguing it is relevant in hiring because "it is revealing" about a person.

On the other hand, people "believe" a lot of things, not all of them religious, which a group of officious people at a conference table might find silly or potentially embarrassing. If a computer programmer goes to work & does their job well, should it matter they might go home & pray to Ra, and tell everyone Ra is responsible for the sunshine? If you start down this road, the slope might get very slippery.

For those unfamiliar with the case, Martin Gaskell is an astronomer who studies black holes. He was turned down for a job as director of the University of Kentucky's observatory in 2007. Documents later revealed, that during the job search process, a member of the University of Kentucky's search committee considered Gaskell "breathtakingly above the other applicants." An e-mail written by the chairman of the search committee seems to show the University also considered Gaskell's beliefs as a Christian & the potential embarrassment, particularly with some of his past statements of problems & "unanswered questions" with the Theory of Evolution. A complaint was lodged with UK's Equal Employment Office by a professor involved in interviews of candidates, who thought the process was possibly "unfair and perhaps illegal."

Gaskell decided to sue the University of Kentucky under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In an interview, Gaskell claims he accepts the current consensus on evolution, and was referring to the debate over topics like the "Neutral Theory" of molecular evolution (although, he also cites the book of an "intelligent design" proponent in the interview as well). Gaskell has also put together essays on his personal website that argued for common ground between Christianity & scientific consensus with something akin to "Theistic Evolution."

However, there's no accusation Gaskell ever tried to teach any of this to an astronomy class. Or is there any evidence his work on black holes was biased by his religious beliefs.

Days before the Search Committee recommended someone else for the position, Professor Thomas Troland, Chair of the Committee sent an email with the subject line, "The Gaskell Affair":

    "It has become clear to me that there is virtually no way Gaskell will be offered the job despite his qualifications that stand above those of any other applicant. Other reasons will be given for this choice when we meet Tuesday. In the end, however, the real reason why we will not offer him the job is because of his religious beliefs in matters that that are unrelated to astronomy or to any of the duties specified for this position (For example, the job does not involve outreach in biology.)... If Martin were not so superbly qualified, so breathtakingly above the other applicants in background and experience, then our decision would be much simpler. We could easily choose another applicant, and we could content ourselves with the idea that Martin's religious beliefs played little role in our decision. However, this is not the case. As it is, no objective observer could possibly believe that we excluded Martin on any basis other than religious....."


The e-mail in the blockquote above seems like a "smoking gun" that a lawyer would have a field day with at trial. It was announced a week ago the University of Kentucky & Gaskell reached a settlement by which UK admits no wrongdoing & pays Gaskell $125,000 ("roughly the equivalent of the extra money Gaskell would have made if he had held the directorship for two years").

Over at Boing Boing, Richard Dawkins has a piece that uses the case as a jumping off point to discuss the "general principles" of discriminating against a job candidate's beliefs, and whether their religious beliefs should be shielded from consideration. He uses two scenarios to make his argument.

  • "A doctor believes in the stork theory of human reproduction, rejecting the sex theory. He applies for a job as an eye surgeon in a teaching hospital, is rejected because of his beliefs, and sues the hospital on grounds of discrimination. His lawyer makes the case that, since he makes no pretence to be an obstetrician, his views on obstetrics are irrelevant to his (breathtakingly superior) ability to operate on eyes and teach ophthalmology."
  • "A flat-earther applies for a professorship of geography. He promises to keep his private beliefs to himself, and undertakes to adhere closely to the round earth theory in all his lectures. He is universally agreed to be a brilliant teacher, breathtakingly above the other candidates in his ability to get the (erroneous, in his view) round earth theory across to students."

I offer the following argument. Even if a doctor's belief in the stork theory of reproduction is technically irrelevant to his competence as an eye surgeon, it tells you something about him. It is revealing. It is relevant in a general way to whether we would wish him to treat us or teach us. A patient could reasonably shrink from entrusting her eyes to a doctor whose beliefs (admittedly in the apparently unrelated field of obstetrics) are so cataclysmically disconnected from reality. And a student could reasonably object to being taught geography by a professor who is prepared to take a salary to teach, however brilliantly, what he believes is a lie. I think those are good grounds to impugn his moral character if not his sanity, and a student would be wise to avoid his classes.

But should this all change, if it can be shown that these eccentric beliefs are based upon religion? Should religiously inspired beliefs be privileged, protected against scrutiny, where other beliefs are not? If the eye-doctor's belief in the stork theory, or the geographer's flat-earthism, or the astronomer's belief that Mars is the egg of a mongoose, turned out to be derived directly from a holy book or 'faith tradition', should that weaken our objection? Let's look at a couple more scenarios, real ones this time, not hypothetical.

A senior colleague at Oxford told me of an astronomer who, on religious grounds, believes the universe is less than ten thousand years old. This man holds down a job as a competent cosmological theorist (not at Oxford, I hasten to say). He publishes mathematical papers in learned journals, taking it for granted that the universe is nearly fourteen billion years old and using this assumption in his calculations. He bottles up his personal beliefs so successfully that he is capable of performing calculations that assume an old universe and make a genuine contribution to science. My colleague takes the view that this YEC is entitled to a job as a professor of astronomy, because he keeps his private beliefs to himself while at work. I take the opposite view. I would object to employing him, on the grounds that his research papers, and his lectures to students, are filled with what he personally believes to be falsehoods. He is a fake, a fraud, a charlatan, drawing a salary for a job that could have gone to an honest astronomer. Moreover, I would regard his equanimity in holding two diametrically opposing views simultaneously in his head as a revealing indicator that there is something wrong with his head.

However, there's a reason Title VII specifically included religion in its protected classes, since religious freedom is a component of the First Amendment. In effect, Dawkins is arguing for a "religious test" for employment, even if those beliefs are arguably not relevant to the performance of the job or any evidence the candidate had ever allowed those beliefs to interfere with the execution of the job. Dawkins argues that's okay because it puts the consideration of "religious foolishness and non-religious foolishness" on equal footing. However, as I said in the intro, the slope of going down that road can get very slippery, since the reason these kind of protections exist in the first place is that a hiring board could argue almost anything (including something that would eventually piss off the person reading this sentence) was tangentially "relevant" and dispositive.  

From Nature:

This case may be closed, but the issues it raised are not likely to be settled so easily. Scientists are less religious than non-scientists, but they are by no means uniformly atheist. According to the Pew Research Center, some 33% of US scientists believe in God. For astronomers, the figure is similar: 29%. Interestingly, it is the chemists who are most religious, with 41% counting themselves among the faithful. Of course these statistics don't tell us how many of these scientists have beliefs that don't accord with mainstream scientific consensus. Most religious scientists in the US are Protestant, Catholic or Jewish--and all of those religious groups are likely to accept evolution and scientifically derived estimates for the age of the earth and universe.

Is it "okay" for a state institution to turn down a qualified applicant for their political beliefs, because "it is revealing" if they're a Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian or Marxist? Also, I'm not a teacher, but I have to believe that if the standard was that teachers can only teach a subject where they "believe" totally what they're teaching, it might be hard to staff some economics, law, philosophy, political science, etc. classes.

From Gawker:

A key point: no one appears to have challenged Gaskell's primary work in astronomy. No one alleged, for example, that any of his papers on quasars or black holes were compromised by his religious beliefs... Even if you believe in evolution and think Christians are essentially believers in myth (and why wouldn't you?), you should also be extremely wary of any tendency to make hiring decisions based on something other than qualifications for the job in question. The astronomer not hired for his religious beliefs today could easily be you tomorrow—not hired for a job you're qualified for because the search committee didn't like your taste in music, or fashion, or politics. It's tempting to say that biology and astronomy are both sciences, and therefore Gaskell's beliefs in both are fair game; but it's no more reasonable to rate an astronomer on his beliefs in biology and religion than it is to rate him on his beliefs in sociology, or political science. No Marxist economists allowed? No Rasta mathematicians? Academia would be subject to even more groupthink than it already is.

Originally posted to 医生的宫殿 on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 09:08 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well (0+ / 0-)

    Since extremist christians would have us all discriminating against non christians it would seem the turnabout is fair play.

    •  Or we could not give up the moral high ground (7+ / 0-)

      and continue to opperate in the appropriate fashion.

      One should no more deplore homosexuality than left-handedness. ~Towards a Quaker View of Sex, 1964 (Proud left-handed queer here!)

      by AUBoy2007 on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 09:24:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nope can't have it both ways... (16+ / 0-)
      Discrimination is wrong under all circumstances or it's not wrong at all.  You have to choose.

      "When all you have is an assault rifle, everything looks like a target." -- Something the Dog Said

      by PvtJarHead on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 09:25:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  this guy was not extremist (8+ / 0-)

      he seems to simply have explored his spriritual side, without bringing it into the classroom.

      After all, LeMaitre, who did a lot of the initial research into the big bang, was ordained as a Catholic priest.

      I have no understanding of literalists, they don't make sense to me. But I do come from a Christian background, which infuses my sense of urgency on issues like protecting the environment. I was raised in a church that had an atom in one of its stained glass windows. The atom represented hope and fear - hope that scientific discovery would bring humans together in new ways, and fear of the atomic bomb. The church was also a fallout shelter, we had large plywood window covers to be used if air-raid sirens went off. Nobody ever tried to tell me the earth wasn't created through evolution. But the two creation stories were very important for understanding human behavior and our repsonsibility for taking care of the planet.

      In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

      by Lefty Mama on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 09:28:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Some Of The Most Important Discoveries..... (7+ / 0-)

        In human history have been made by people of faith. While there are cranks out there who want to fudge facts in order to skew it to their view of a 6,000 year-old Earth, there's also a history of scientists who've followed where the facts & numbers led them in the belief that by finding scientific truth they're expressing the beauty of God's creation.

        For example:

        • Gregor Mendel - an Austrian monk & considered the father of modern genetics for his work on "Mendelian inheritance."
        • Nicolaus Copernicus - first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology & also a Catholic cleric.
        • Johannes Kepler - Developed the laws of planetary motion, which he rooted in his religious faith.
        • "Geometry is one and eternal shining in the mind of God. That share in it accorded to humans is one of the reasons that humanity is the image of God."

      •  He's a creationist (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fly, SheriffBart, Blizzard

        Sorry, but that's more than exploration of his spiritual side.  Creationism is anti-science.  

        The university was right not to hire him.  

        •  No, he's not... (7+ / 0-)

 least not in the way most of us actually mean when we say "creationist."

          There is no evidence that he believes in a literal six-day creation or in a 6,000 year old world.

          He believes that God might have guided evolution. That is not "creationism." It shouldn't be taught in a science classroom, but the private belief in that shouldn't disqualify a person from being able to do scientific work.

          What have you done for DC statehood today? Call your Rep and Senators and demand action.

          by mistersite on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 10:14:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, he is (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SheriffBart, trashablanca, ER Doc

            a creationist just not a strictly young earth type:


            •  Doesn't matter. (0+ / 0-)

              Biology isn't his subject.

              Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

              by Joieau on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 01:32:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  that's a good read there (0+ / 0-)

              but he's not a stereotypical creationist. He does have ME in there - I'm, like, "Genesis is purely theological".  (i.e., it is not necessarily meant to relate what actually physically happened).

              what he says he believes is, "The Answers are not in yet".  This is part of my own viewpoint.  I believe that God has not yet revealed everything to us in the Bible (see Deuteronomy 29:29 and I Corinthians 13:9-10,12) and I know that we don't know all the answers in science yet.

              From what I see here, this person uses his faith to keep himself questioning scientific principles, but he's honest and humble enough to know that he's not going to prove the existence of God or anything like that. Some people think religion means certainty, but there's a fair number of religionists that think religion means keep-asking-questions.

              Great scientists are willing to throw out the prevailing opinion when it doesn't add up, like Einstein questioning the existence of aether. I'm sure a lot of people around him told him he was flat-out wrong. So anyways, any way that a human being can maintain an attitude of questioning both the known and unknowable is alright in my book.

              In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

              by Lefty Mama on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 06:00:35 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  That's what I took from it. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ER Doc, theatre goon

          It doesn't seem like they discriminated on the basis of religion, but made a hiring decision based on whether he believed in science or not. That seems fair to me.

        •  Enters not at all (0+ / 0-)

          into the subject of astronomy, if his credentials there are fully acceptable.

          Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

          by Joieau on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 01:31:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  No he is NOT a "creationist." (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lefty Mama

          It is a do things about injustice.... It helps to have a goal. I've always tried to have one.--Ted Kennedy, True Compass

          by Timaeus on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 02:54:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  practically (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SLKRR, trashablanca, Joieau

      the believers outnumber nonbelievers by a whole lot, so allowing for any kin of religious test seems likely to result in discrimination against nonbelievers. Dawkins is on a precarious limb here.

      "You try to vote or participate in the government/ and the muh'fuckin' Democrats is actin' like Republicans" ~ Kweli

      by joey c on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 10:55:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think Dawkin's beliefs (11+ / 0-)

    about employment and rights should be held against him in .....whatever field of science he's in.

    I wouldn't let him make hiring and firing decisions, though.

    Nobody ever bombed a pro-life office.

    by Inland on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 09:13:58 AM PST

  •  Depends on the situation (6+ / 0-)

    I discriminate when 'hiring' politicians,

    When 'hiring' a president, I think it is vital that we Americans not vote for candidates who believe the earth is only about 6,000 years old and that the book of Genesis explains how the earth and everything on it was created.

    Likewise, when 'hiring' a representative or senator, I think it is vital that we Americans not vote for candidates who believe that science is hokey and choose their own 'facts' over accepted scientific theory. Additionally, it is important not to hire men and women into government that think that government cannot work and it is a problem.

  •  This morning, I read a comment from a diarist (6+ / 0-)

    whom I much admire, particularly for her work in lexicography. In that comment, she revealed that she'd stayed up all night to secure tickets to a concert by Rush, whom she considers to be a truly great band, a perfect illustration of faith ("the evidence of things not seen").

    Despite knowing this about her, I find no flaws in her lexicographic analyses and will continue to trust her work in that field.

    Watch the new video. Then give me all your stuff.

    by Crashing Vor on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 09:22:23 AM PST

  •  If the guy is being hired (6+ / 0-)

    as an astrophysicist or astronomer, and that's the sum total of his teaching and research responsibilities, I'm not sure it's relevant what whack things he believes wrt biology.

    Scrutiny of what he means by "intelligent design" in terms of quantum theory, gravitation, etc. etc. etc., however, is entirely in order.

    •  One of the handy things about mathematics (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SLKRR, wader, trashablanca, Ellid, WiseFerret

      is that it's pretty much devoid of what people believe without proof.

      At any rate, prohibitions against religious bigotry is more beneficial than anecdotal evidence might imply. This is why we have courts to determine the facts.

    •  Sorry, but not quite (0+ / 0-)

      If he's a creationist, that means that he believes that a deity (almost certainly God the Father of Christianity) created the universe and all life within in in seconds.  There's no room for the Big Bang, quantum theory, or anything that approaches modern cosmology in that.

      •  Do you have any evidence... (5+ / 0-)

        ...that he's that kind of creationist?

        Looks to me like he accepts the data as is, but posits design rather than chance as the mechanism by which evolution took place.

        That shouldn't be taught in the science classroom, but he isn't suggesting that it be taught - and that's not literalist creationism by any stretch of the imagination and his private belief in that shouldn't disqualify him from a scientific research position.

        (Oh, and if you're going to talk about creationism, at least take the time to bother to do the research and get your facts straight. Literal creationists believe that God created the world in six days - not "seconds.")

        What have you done for DC statehood today? Call your Rep and Senators and demand action.

        by mistersite on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 10:18:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's young-earth creationism. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rimjob, trashablanca, bythesea

        There are other kinds.

      •  Please pull your innappropriate hydrate, Ellid. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Timaeus, Rimjob, Progrocks, WiseFerret

        You didn't respond to the first polite request, so I'm hydrating until you at least explain your HR.

        "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." John Lennon

        by trashablanca on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 11:16:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Science does not preclude belief (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rimjob, houyhnhnm, irishwitch

        in the supernatural.
        What science and scientific methods demand is evidence and testable ideas. Believe whatever you like, but you cannot make it science without evidence.
        Many, many scientist compartmentalize their beliefs in a "not science" realm of their life while continuing excellent research using theories counter to their beliefs. It is trying to shoehorn belief into the scientific realm when they have no credible evidence that causes trouble.
        The whole shebang of what we call science may indeed be just wool over our eyes, placed there by an omnipotent deity, but we have no evidence. Science has proven many times over to have the best methodology to explain the world we see and touch. It maybe a total charade ("There is no spoon"), but we can only work with what we have. Belief is comforting, but is not a credible explanation.

        I just wanted to vote in the primaries. Honestly, I am much too liberal to be a Democrat.

        by WiseFerret on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 11:34:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  "The following views are only mine and not (0+ / 0-)

    the views of the institution I work for and should not be seen as endorsed by them or their employees."
    If he promised in his contract that he would attach a statement like that to any public publication on any topic other than what the institution is paying him for he should be hired. If he refuses then it would be clear that he wants to trade on the prestige of the institution to advance his squirrelly ideas.

    There is never a good time to end a bad war.

    by OHdog on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 09:29:16 AM PST

  •  Once you allow discrimination... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, wader, trashablanca, fizziks, bythesea

    ...on religious grounds, you're going to find a lot of atheists becoming unemployable in many parts of the USA (if they aren't already).  

    This is NOT the slippery slope you want to start heading down.  

    If a person's beliefs are going to interfere with their ability to do a job, than they are relevant.  If not, then it's just prejudice, IMHO.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." -- Dom Hélder Câmara

    by SLKRR on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 09:44:56 AM PST

  •  I believe hat all university scientific (7+ / 0-)

    personnel should be selected exclusively from among "young earth" creatinists, especially those dealing with astronomy. Cosmology is so much easier if the universe is both recent and willfully arbitrary, for example.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

    by enhydra lutris on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 09:45:47 AM PST

  •  There are lots of things (5+ / 0-)

    ...which make a candidate a good or bad fit for a particular position.  The guy was not "not-hired" because he was a Christian, he was "not-hired" because some of his beliefs made him not the best candidate available.  

    America, we can do better than this...

    by Randomfactor on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 09:48:54 AM PST

  •  Here's what keeps me up at night (7+ / 0-)

    An evangelical Christian employee at my former job tried to exorcise a seriously mentally ill patient. It's really not appropriate to give possibly identifying details. Let's just say it was one hot mess.

    She quit before the central HR office could figure out how to fire her. I've been hinky about hiring religion-on-the-sleeve people ever since. So sue me.

    Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

    by susanala on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 10:28:08 AM PST

    •  Of course (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SLKRR, nickrud, susanala

      but that is a far different situation than the one described in the diary.

      •  It's different in that her religious (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        irishwitch, bythesea

        beliefs were in direct conflict with her job description. But we had no way of knowing that when we hired her. Public university. No religious questions allowed.

        Oh the irony ... we were not allowed to proselytize patients or mandate religious elements in our treatment modalities. Of course this was disclosed all over the place. But we were not allowed to investigate in any meaningful way whether an applicant could respect this policy.

        Of course, she didn't come off as a demented zealot up front. Just too warm and fuzzy for some people's taste. Which is not a legitimate hiring criterion.

        Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

        by susanala on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 12:52:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Qualifications first, but I feel it's fair to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, trashablanca, theatre goon

    consider how this person might represent your company by association, even outside of working hours.

    It's not uncommon for various codes of conduct to be part of an employer's agreement that you sign in order to accept a job with them - some are less intrusive than others, with regards to your private lifestyle.

    If someone was a brilliant astronomer, but also an unrepentant White Supremacist who was only outspoken about his prejudices outside of the work environment, having someone like that on staff could reflect poorly on your school's judgement as an educational institution, for various reasons.

    If someone's religious background similarly seemed to garner negative attention at the expense of the employer's reputation, I feel that investigation of whether or not significant distractions would arise from their association with such a person is acceptable, but must take into account the needs of consumers/students, peer workers/staff and the ability to maintain a "safe" work environment, etc.  You shouldn't deny a liberal Democrat for the job simply because everyone else at the workplace/school is a member of the Klan - that's not maintaining a "safe" working environment among other things.

    Of course, legal hiring restrictions would need to be considered, as well - especially for public or government-backed jobs.

    The school may have overreached in this case, but they handled it a bit too strongly per the wording above, I feel.  If this potential new hire would have created significant unease or distraction in the workplace/school due to his personal beliefs, or his beliefs were markedly counter to the public values of the employer, then I feel they could have had more reasonable ground to stand upon for rejecting his application.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 10:28:15 AM PST

  •  PZ can explain it all better than I can (5+ / 0-)

    read this for a very good take on the Gaskell thing:

  •  T&R because it needs to be discussed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, theatre goon

    It seems that in this case the person did not have religious beliefs that would interfere with his job duties.  He was not a creationist in the anti-science sense.

    He probably should have not been disqualified from the job.  

    However, you have to keep an eye on these people because they are liable to leverage their status and supposed authority as an "astronomer" or "professor" or "scientitst" to make pro-Chistianity statements on things that they have no business expounding on.  But that is the risk we take in a free society with non-discrimination.

  •  Legal Basis (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, trashablanca

    I think the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act claim is pretty straightforward, but I don't see Dr. Gaskell having a Constitutional claim under the Free Exercise clause.  Since the Smith decision, there is little that can't be done where there is a secular purpose to a law.  If there were no Civil Rights Act, then UK could have a policy that said that belief in generally agreed scientific theories and principles was a requirement for academic positions.  That's a perfectly secular purpose which would exclude creationists.

  •  It’s a fascinating subject. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, theatre goon

    I’m personally agnostic and can’t imagine not hiring someone based on their personal beliefs or non beliefs. Otoh, judges are asked to recuse themselves if there is a conflict of interest. I guess in that scenario though they are not being denied the position, just the specific case.

  •  More on Gaskell (and, now, Dawkins on Gaskell) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  If he can do the job, why? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Certainly, religious beliefs can interfere with doing some jobs. I'm a Methodist, and would never applyu for a job as a bartender. A Quaker shouldn't be an executioner.

    But, if one is willing to do the job, what does his other opinions have to do with it?

    What would dKos say about a guy who was refused a job in a big corporation because he believed and taught that the rich should pay more taxes? After all, stockholders might well object to that.

    And, since the University of Kentucky seems to be supported by taxpayers.

    Corporations are people; money is speech.
    1984 - George Orwell

    by Frank Palmer on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 12:05:42 PM PST

  •  Gaskell wasn't eliminated for being (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, capelza, Derfel, theatre goon

    Christian, but for being a creationist. I don't see whether any of the other candidates were Christian or not, but we can be sure were not creationist.

    ...not hired for a job you're qualified for because the search committee didn't like your taste in music, or fashion...

    This has always been the case and is even more so with the toobz. Like everyone else, Gaskell needs to watch what he posts because it will be considered when he applies for jobs.

    It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

    by sboucher on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 02:05:02 PM PST

  •  Am I the only person who is appalled (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, Inland, Derfel

    that Mike Cavagnero, the author of the email, doesn't know the difference between "there" and "their"? No wonder he wanted it kept confidential!

    I didn't do it. Nobody saw me. You can't prove anything. --Bart Simpson

    by DreamyAJ on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 02:51:45 PM PST

  •  It's an interesting discussion. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm a fairly outspoken atheist, but I'm not concerned with the beliefs anyone else holds unless and until they try, in some way or other, to force them upon me.  That being the case, I can't support discriminating against anyone because of their religion, unless it can be shown that their religious beliefs would impact their job performance.

    We also have a system currently, however, in which potential employers are allowed -- even encouraged -- to look at any and all expressions made by a potential employee online.  We've all heard of people getting in trouble while looking for a job (or getting in trouble at their current job) because of something they've written on Facebook, for instance.

    I think what we come down to in this specific case may be similar -- they refer to writings made by the potential employee that might show him to be at odds with the position he was being considered for.  Not in the actual performance of his duties, perhaps, but it is a rather visible position, and those published views might be used to color the institution as a whole.

  •  What if it is relevant to the job? (0+ / 0-)

    What if a geneticist believed in creationism and just never touched on evolution or creationism in his classes?  Even if his classes didn't directly require the teaching of evolution, you would have to seriously question his understanding of biology if he didn't believe in evolution.  In cases like this, I am in favor of not hiring someone with a viewpoint in contrast with science.

    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. - Schopenhauer

    by BlueberryTomatoSoup on Fri Jan 28, 2011 at 12:06:08 AM PST

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