Religion and admissions

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tasteofred
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Religion and admissions

Postby tasteofred » Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:02 am

Just out of curiosity, I don't want to debate ideologies here :) .... I'm a member of the ASA (Atheist student alliance) at my UG. Should I be hesitant to put this on applications? Should I even BE in commonly looked down upon organizations? (I'm also an officer in an animal rights organization)

I plan on mainly applying to schools in bigger, more liberal cities but I don't want to put any of this on my app just to get it thrown away because the adcomm thinks I'm some crazy, cage breaking, church burning radical.

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dp73816
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby dp73816 » Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:26 am

If you are going to apply to the Notre Dame's and Boston College's of the world, I would definitely not put it. If you are going to apply to the more liberal schools (Berkeley and Northeastern come to mind) it wouldn't be a bad thing - it might actually help. My advice is that, for the average school, if you even have an ounce of trepidation over putting it in, don't. Hopefully you have other EC's that are a little more endearing. Not to say that it is a bad thing, but it is simply not as PC as many things that can be easily categorized as "good" or "harmful" to your chances.

tasteofred
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby tasteofred » Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:37 am

dp73816 wrote:If you are going to apply to the Notre Dame's and Boston College's of the world, I would definitely not put it. If you are going to apply to the more liberal schools (Berkeley and Northeastern come to mind) it wouldn't be a bad thing - it might actually help. My advice is that, for the average school, if you even have an ounce of trepidation over putting it in, don't. Hopefully you have other EC's that are a little more endearing. Not to say that it is a bad thing, but it is simply not as PC as many things that can be easily categorized as "good" or "harmful" to your chances.


They're the only organizations I'm apart of, but other soft factors (I guess) would be being cuban, previously a legal assistant and still do semi-freelance legal work for a local attorney, lots of volunteering, and that's about it. My dream school is NYU but I'm planning on applying to all of the T14 schools in urban areas (UPENN, Berkeley, Chicago and NW), plus quite a few schools from T30 and up, then UF (I'm from FL) and Lewis and Clark. I guess I need to find a PC organization to get into :)

Thanks.

jerjon2
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby jerjon2 » Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:41 am

I would try to emphasize the animal rights thing. I don't think anyone is going to have much negative to say about that. Especially if your application has that sort of PI bent anyway. As far as the atheist organization, I wouldn't mention it anywhere. All it takes is one adcomm member at even the most liberal school to feel something (maybe even subconsciously) that makes them against your application to have a negative effect. I don't think that possibility is worth whatever minuscule boost you would get from being in another club.

Good luck

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dp73816
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby dp73816 » Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:46 am

jerjon2 wrote:I would try to emphasize the animal rights thing. I don't think anyone is going to have much negative to say about that. Especially if your application has that sort of PI bent anyway. As far as the atheist organization, I wouldn't mention it anywhere. All it takes is one adcomm member at even the most liberal school to feel something (maybe even subconsciously) that makes them against your application to have a negative effect. I don't think that possibility is worth whatever minuscule boost you would get from being in another club.

Good luck



Agreed. Its really just too much of a risk. The more I think about it, its an unknown, unquantifiable factor thats kind of arbitrary. You have URM status - that, along with some ok softs, should be enough.

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mb88
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby mb88 » Fri Mar 26, 2010 9:20 am

A frighteningly large portion of the country still believes that atheists worship Satan.

As an atheist myself, I'm with the others. Bad idea to include on an app (besides Berkeley, probably).

LegalGENius
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby LegalGENius » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:50 am

dp73816 wrote:
jerjon2 wrote:I would try to emphasize the animal rights thing. I don't think anyone is going to have much negative to say about that. Especially if your application has that sort of PI bent anyway. As far as the atheist organization, I wouldn't mention it anywhere. All it takes is one adcomm member at even the most liberal school to feel something (maybe even subconsciously) that makes them against your application to have a negative effect. I don't think that possibility is worth whatever minuscule boost you would get from being in another club.

Good luck



Agreed. Its really just too much of a risk. The more I think about it, its an unknown, unquantifiable factor thats kind of arbitrary. You have URM status - that, along with some ok softs, should be enough.


DON'T DO IT. All you need is ONE person on the admissions committee to take issue with that. Many choose to dodge the disclosure of religion affiliation entirely, IMO it is unnecessary as it relates to your potential law school performance (unless of course you are seeking admission to a Jesuit university and are Catholic, etc.) Also never put that on your CV/resume, you just never know. . . .

tasteofred
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby tasteofred » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:59 am

Okay, then keeping it a secret it is! Does anyone know if there's any problem during C&F regarding not including organization membership? I'd assume not, but I'm paranoid.

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thalassocrat
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby thalassocrat » Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:05 am

I might be the only one who will disagree here, but I don't think it would be as much a killer as people are saying. The people who think atheists worship Satan don't tend to be the highly educated members of academic institutions. FWIW I wrote my PS about being an atheist in the Bible Belt, and with the exception of Berkeley my cycle went exactly as I expected it to. I even got comments from two different schools about how they loved it. I did avoid the known religious schools, though.

That having been said, leave it off if you're that worried. I'm just trying to offer an alternate perspective.

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YCrevolution
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby YCrevolution » Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:11 am

..

tasteofred
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby tasteofred » Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:16 am

thalassocrat wrote:I might be the only one who will disagree here, but I don't think it would be as much a killer as people are saying. The people who think atheists worship Satan don't tend to be the highly educated members of academic institutions. FWIW I wrote my PS about being an atheist in the Bible Belt, and with the exception of Berkeley my cycle went exactly as I expected it to. I even got comments from two different schools about how they loved it. I did avoid the known religious schools, though.

That having been said, leave it off if you're that worried. I'm just trying to offer an alternate perspective.


That's actually very helpful. I'd rather not compromise my values but every lawyer I personally know is super religious (like, to the point that I lost a great potential LOR b/c they found out I was an atheist.), but maybe that's because I live in Florida. Now I'll have to keep considering it :) Thank you.

And good job with the PS, I'm not sure I'd be able to take the risk.

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kswiss
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby kswiss » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:24 pm

tasteofred wrote:
thalassocrat wrote:I might be the only one who will disagree here, but I don't think it would be as much a killer as people are saying. The people who think atheists worship Satan don't tend to be the highly educated members of academic institutions. FWIW I wrote my PS about being an atheist in the Bible Belt, and with the exception of Berkeley my cycle went exactly as I expected it to. I even got comments from two different schools about how they loved it. I did avoid the known religious schools, though.

That having been said, leave it off if you're that worried. I'm just trying to offer an alternate perspective.


That's actually very helpful. I'd rather not compromise my values but every lawyer I personally know is super religious (like, to the point that I lost a great potential LOR b/c they found out I was an atheist.), but maybe that's because I live in Florida. Now I'll have to keep considering it :) Thank you.

And good job with the PS, I'm not sure I'd be able to take the risk.


Don't consider it.

I'm agnostic, but if you bring up atheism/agnosticism even amongst highly educated people it elicits some kind of a reaction. Whether it is amusement or horror, its not a gamble I would take . Some of the smartest people I know are very religious, and things of an ideological nature are inherently immune to reason. If 5 people look at your app and 2 of them are religious, those two people might unconsciously discriminate against you and hurt your chances of admission.

I'm all for standing up for what you believe in, but I'd argue that your application package should be tailored to be as non-polarizing as possible. Sure you might get some people fighting for you as a result, but if they are outnumbered by the people fighting against you're still screwed.

Your app is basically a bio/press kit. It's not meant to be an absolute reflection of who you are, it's meant to get you into the school you want. Once in, wear a Dawkins t-shirt and pronounce your atheism loudly in classrooms, but don't put something in your file voluntarily that could possibly hurt you more than it helps.

wired
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby wired » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:46 pm

Trying to be as objective as possible, but I think many agnostics/atheists view themselves as many very religious people - a fringe group that is bound to have a hater in a group of five people. While I do think there could be some in any adcomm, I doubt that it would really affect your application SO LONG AS YOU DID NOT PRESENT IT OFFENSIVELY.

If you write a PS about how you "broke free from the chains of religion" or "reason sat in and you rejected the myth of a God," you are sure to offend anyone who is religious. However, just having a club on there should not hurt you unless you are applying to a very religious school like BYU, Liberty, Ave Maria, etc.

On the other end of the spectrum, I submitted information that clearly indicated I was Mormon and it has not hurt me. (Though maybe I could start blaming my Berkeley reject on that....)

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Muckduck
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby Muckduck » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:49 pm

mb88 wrote:A frighteningly large portion of the country still believes that atheists worship Satan.

As an atheist myself, I'm with the others. Bad idea to include on an app (besides Berkeley, probably).


Wait a sec. Atheists don't worship Satan!? :D

tasteofred
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby tasteofred » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:03 pm

wired wrote:Trying to be as objective as possible, but I think many agnostics/atheists view themselves as many very religious people - a fringe group that is bound to have a hater in a group of five people.


UMN actually did a study that identified atheists as the most hated minority in America, by far. I've personally lost countless friendships and even familial relationships over it. And I'm probably one of the most moral people I know. I hope I eventually get to live in a world where that isn't the case, but one in five might be a good estimate outside of the academic communities and rebellious teenagers.

wired
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby wired » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:14 pm

tasteofred wrote:
wired wrote:Trying to be as objective as possible, but I think many agnostics/atheists view themselves as many very religious people - a fringe group that is bound to have a hater in a group of five people.


UMN actually did a study that identified atheists as the most hated minority in America, by far. I've personally lost countless friendships and even familial relationships over it. And I'm probably one of the most moral people I know. I hope I eventually get to live in a world where that isn't the case, but one in five might be a good estimate outside of the academic communities and rebellious teenagers.


I am familiar with that study, though I think saying, "Most hated minority in America" is mis-describing its findings. (I know the media used this tag line a lot; maybe they are referring to a different study. I am thinking of the one found at http://www.soc.umn.edu/~hartmann/files/ ... 0other.pdf) Still, I don't doubt that atheism has a stigma associated with it that conjures up negative feelings for many people.

What I am saying, is those unable to help their negative feelings are most likely not on an adcomm. There's sure to be a few, but I don't think there's ANY application that wouldn't find people upset one way or another. (Where you attended undergrad, any volunteer work, even your major could all affect people negatively.) I think the expected gain of being involved is greater than the expected loss of landing a secretly atheist-hating adcomm.

erniesto
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby erniesto » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:31 pm

tasteofred wrote:
wired wrote:Trying to be as objective as possible, but I think many agnostics/atheists view themselves as many very religious people - a fringe group that is bound to have a hater in a group of five people.


UMN actually did a study that identified atheists as the most hated minority in America, by far. I've personally lost countless friendships and even familial relationships over it. And I'm probably one of the most moral people I know. I hope I eventually get to live in a world where that isn't the case, but one in five might be a good estimate outside of the academic communities and rebellious teenagers.


You mean ethical! Get it right. Damn Atheists. Even Kantian morality requires a metaphysical supernatural entity.

I'd leave it off, even a lot of liberal intellectuals will form an argument against you assuming you don't really know what the term explicitly implies (see what I did there), as the vast vast majority of atheists don't.

Isn't it antithetical to put that on your app anyways? It's like putting "Young Baptist Society" or "Fellowship of Christian Athletes" or whatever those wonky kids do in college. Not like adcomms care too terribly about dime a dozen softs.

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drdolittle
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby drdolittle » Fri Mar 26, 2010 3:01 pm

Private religious beliefs really should have no place in law school admissions (including Berkeley). On the few occasions I've encountered such questions, I've left them blank and still got admitted. And since you are not a "crazy, cage breaking, church burning radical" it sounds like a minor part of your profile anyway. The animal rights org. membership is different, depending on the organization and your commitment to it. If your group is an important part of your life, is reasonable and employs legal tactics, I'd mention it with a brief explanation.

hunkydory
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby hunkydory » Fri Mar 26, 2010 3:35 pm

YCrevolution wrote:
thalassocrat wrote:I might be the only one who will disagree here, but I don't think it would be as much a killer as people are saying. The people who think atheists worship Satan don't tend to be the highly educated members of academic institutions. FWIW I wrote my PS about being an atheist in the Bible Belt, and with the exception of Berkeley my cycle went exactly as I expected it to. I even got comments from two different schools about how they loved it. I did avoid the known religious schools, though.

That having been said, leave it off if you're that worried. I'm just trying to offer an alternate perspective.

+1


I also agree. My personal statement was about going to a Christian school and the process of ultimately rejecting fundamentalist Christianity. Some people told me it was a horrible idea that would bias the adcomms, but my cycle went as expected (I got into most of my top choices - including one in OKLAHOMA). I admit my PS was risky and had the potential to be disastrous. But I spent a lot of time making sure I said everything just right and was not dismissive of religious beliefs. All that to say, I don't think the adcomm will be turned off if you've presented yourself as an open-minded, reasonable person in other places in your app.

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Rock Chalk
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby Rock Chalk » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:07 pm

.
Last edited by Rock Chalk on Wed May 16, 2012 2:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

tasteofred
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby tasteofred » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:58 pm

Rock Chalk wrote:
erniesto wrote:
tasteofred wrote:
wired wrote:Trying to be as objective as possible, but I think many agnostics/atheists view themselves as many very religious people - a fringe group that is bound to have a hater in a group of five people.


UMN actually did a study that identified atheists as the most hated minority in America, by far. I've personally lost countless friendships and even familial relationships over it. And I'm probably one of the most moral people I know. I hope I eventually get to live in a world where that isn't the case, but one in five might be a good estimate outside of the academic communities and rebellious teenagers.


You mean ethical! Get it right. Damn Atheists. Even Kantian morality requires a metaphysical supernatural entity.

There was nothing wrong with his use of "moral." Nothing about morality is inherently supernatural.


Thanks for that! I wish more people understood that religion does not precede morality.

& I'm a girl, btw. Everyone on this forum keeps calling me a dude :P

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tomhobbes
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby tomhobbes » Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:03 pm

I included the fact that I was a member of an atheist club on my resume, and religion actually played a prominent role in my personal statement. It didn't hurt me at all. I actually think it may have helped me. You just have to make sure you don't sound arrogant.

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thalassocrat
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby thalassocrat » Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:55 pm

tomhobbes wrote:I included the fact that I was a member of an atheist club on my resume, and religion actually played a prominent role in my personal statement. It didn't hurt me at all. I actually think it may have helped me. You just have to make sure you don't sound arrogant.


Yea, not sounding arrogant or like a plain old jackass is key. I'd say that goes for everything else on your application anyway, but that should be a no brainer.

twopoodles
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby twopoodles » Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:05 pm

To a risky crowd, I am a secular humanist. (Then, at least, they have to look it up before jumping to the Satan conclusions.)

erniesto
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Re: Religion and admissions

Postby erniesto » Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:18 pm

tasteofred wrote:
Rock Chalk wrote:
erniesto wrote:
You mean ethical! Get it right. Damn Atheists. Even Kantian morality requires a metaphysical supernatural entity.

There was nothing wrong with his use of "moral." Nothing about morality is inherently supernatural.


Thanks for that! I wish more people understood that religion does not precede morality.

& I'm a girl, btw. Everyone on this forum keeps calling me a dude :P


Your rhetoric is off. Sorry. Metaphysics precedes morality. You can't prescribe to a morality without prescribing to a metaphysics. You have to go by faith to determine right vs. wrong as there is no absolute existential truth behind either without that faith. You can, however, acknowledge that morality exists without prescribing to its truths, thus being ethical.

This is why you should never admit to being an atheist by the way. Nobody likes a self-acknowledged and trumpeted atheist because they're a walking argument.




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