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Call it the separation of church and job.

Employers in the American South are less likely to hire job applicants with an overt religious identity, according to a new study — unless the applicants happened to be Jewish.

Researchers at the University of Connecticut sent 3,200 fake applications to 800 jobs near two major Southern cities, with each employer receiving four resumes with comparable job qualifications.

The resumes mentioned an affiliation with an atheist, Catholic, evangelical Christian, Jewish or Muslim organization. A control group mentioned no affiliation.

Employers preferred applicants who did not mention a religious affiliation. Muslims were the least likely to be contacted by employers, receiving 38 percent fewer e-mails and 54 percent fewer phone calls than the control group.

Atheists, pagans and Catholics were also unpopular. Evangelicals fared about as well as the unaffiliated applicants. “Only Jews escaped totally unscathed,” researchers said. In fact, the study found, some employers seemed to favor Jewish applicants.

The study indicates that religious discrimination is prevalent even in the South, where employers tend to be more religious than in other regions, said the study’s coauthors.

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