I'd like to list Orthodox Christianity as an activity on my resume. This is not a not-so-subtle evangelism tool but an actual activity. I spend (what I think) is a considerable amount of time attending services, reading books, and doing other things involved with being an Orthodox Christian. It is a major part of my life, much more so than the other things I have listed under activities. What effect is listing this on my resume likely to produce?
You should not list any outside of work activities on your resume unless they directly pertain to the job being applied for. Those are inappropriate whether they are religious in nature or sky diving. It would almost never be a positive in the eyes of a hiring official because it shows you lack a fundamental understanding of how to present yourself. The exception to this would be if you were applying to be employed by an Orthodox Christian Church or organization that promotes Christianity such as a religious school. Then the belief is fundamental to the qualification for the job, after all you wouldn't hire an atheist to be the minister at a church would you?
And further putting this on the resume indicates to the many people who do not share your faith that you might be someone who will not fit into the secular culture of their workplace. If they are multi-cultural and include people of many faiths, they may be even more concerned about your presentation. My current workplace employees several different types of Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and atheists and those are just the ones I personally know about. We would be concerned about hiring someone who felt it necessary to parade his beliefs in his resume. People are hired based on fit as well as technical skills. Companies like this would be likely to weed you out without an interview unless you are head and shoulders more qualified than the people they do choose to interview.
The bottom line is that you are making it harder to get hired by including this and that is just bad for you unless you are unwilling to work anywhere except a place full of other people of your same beliefs. In that case, go for it, it will help weed out the companies you won't be happy with anyway. It may take longer to find a job though.
Note there are countries in the world where hobbies and the like can be listed. If you are not in the US, I would suggest checking with some other people in your country about what is appropriate on a resume. Thanks to @Adnan for pointing this out.
There is a list of topics that should never be discussed on the job:
- Personal Finances
- Problems with your health and/or hardships outside of work
These are very broadly agreed upon and will depend largely on company culture, and I think that for most of them, they should not translate into your resume. There is other paperwork you will have to list health issues in case of accommodations if they intend to hire you, but that's about the only caveat I can imagine.
Being said, I would probably look at a resume with a religion on it and say that it's rather unprofessional and move forward with other candidates.
In the US at least, it's probably OK to say you do "voluntary church activities", and this will typically be understood as meaning you help out at the biggest local community group, which happens to be the church, rather than that you go door to door evangelizing. Probably.
Being specific about the denomination of the church ("Orthodox Christianity") is definitely too much information unless it's job-relevant, and makes it sound like your main task may be leafleting.
In other countries you might want to be even more generic ("I do voluntary work in the community") but that's starting to verge on being too coy and generic to even bother including on the resume, unless you can be more specific about the "work" part of it, which isn't a bad idea anyway if it's relevant to the job.
At that point you can completely remove the "where" since it stops being the focus, and instead describe the what/why: "I do volunteer house-rewiring for the poor", or "I play the spoons at charity fundraisers".
The issue with putting it on your resume is that it becomes possible for an HR department to exclude you for your religion without creating a paper trail that they're doing so. A person looking over your resume can review it and just say "nope, this person is not qualified' and place it into the circular file no matter what; if you stick your religion or race or creed or anything else like that on there, they could plausibly state that there are 50 other reasons why you never got to the interview stage, even if they are actually discriminating against your religion. In fact, they could even say that they felt that the fact that you included in belies an unprofessional resume, regardless of what the religion is.
The converse is not something that necessarily benefits you either. A lot of larger companies just don't care what religion you are above and beyond the fact that they'd rather avoid lawsuits (although I will say that the other advice that you shouldn't include it directly because of the threat of a lawsuit are blowing things a bit out of proportion). Even a place that you know is run by religious people might prefer not to see that. And if the other party doesn't share your religion, people of different faiths will often not see your religious activism as a positive reason to hire you.
On the other hand, if you're applying to be a church organist, of course you're going to want to list all the churches you've played at (although in that specific case I have an atheist friend who played the organ at a couple of local churches for several years - work experience does not necessarily mean religious experience). If you've done a lot of volunteer work that's pertinent to the job, there's probably not a lot of point to hiding the fact that the volunteering was for a religious organization. What you're describing, though, are just normal aspects of attending church. If you feel that this hobby uniquely qualifies you for the position you're submitting your resume for, I guess you could list it as a "job"; just adding it in because it's a thing that you do, however, is kind of pointless.
If you've been involved in a large number of community activities as a result of your religion, and those community activities take up a significant enough amount of time to be counted as a job, and you are not currently going to be obligated to your religious activities to the level where it would interfere with taking on the job you're seeking, then and only then would it make any sense to include it on your resume, if, and only if those activities somehow relate to the job you're applying for.
If you don't feel comfortable including it as a job, or you feel that those activities are not relevant to the position you're applying for, you should probably not be including it on a document stating your job qualifications in the first place.