Princeton University: Refusal to Recognize Religious Group
Princeton Faith and Action, a student organization at Princeton University, was given recognition after being arbitrarily denied such. PFA is associated with the Christian Union, an off-campus ministry serving Ivy League universities whose own request to apply to have a full-time chaplain on campus was rejected by Dean of Religious Life Thomas Breidenthal. After being blocked from reserving spaces on campus through an existing recognized Christian student group, students organized PFA in order to hold activities independently. When they approached the student government to apply for official recognition, however, student government officials explained that because their group was religious in nature, they were required first to obtain Dean Breidenthal's approval-even though secular groups face no such hurdle. Then, at a meeting to discuss the possibility of recognition, Dean Breidenthal denied PFA the opportunity to apply for recognition because he did not want to recognize a group that associated with the Christian Union. When the students expressed concerns that the approval process seemed discriminatory, the dean explained that this was "the way things are done" at Princeton. FIRE wrote to the school, reminding it of its stated commitments to freedom of religion and association, and soon PFA was given recognition, and Princeton pledged to re-examine their policy, which unfairly singles out religious student organizations for additional and exceptional scrutiny.
- "Victory for Freedom of Association and Religious Liberty at Princeton University," May 11, 2005: In an important victory for religious liberty and freedom of association, Princeton University has recognized a Christian student group that had been arbitrarily denied official recognition. After FIRE wrote to Princeton on behalf of the student group to remind the school of its commitments to freedom of religion and association, the university quickly moved to restore the group’s rights and to recognize the group on an equal basis with other student organizations. Princeton also pledged to re-examine a policy that unfairly singles out religious student organizations for additional and exceptional scrutiny.
- "Letter from Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman to FIRE, April 22, 2005," April 22, 2005
- "FIRE Letter to Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman, April 19, 2005," April 19, 2005
- "Students fight for rights,"
by Susan Brinkman, Catholic Standard & Times (Archdiocese of Philadelphia), June 22, 2006
- "Campus Conscience Police?,"
by Wendy McElroy, Fox News, December 21, 2005
- "Christian Student Group at Princeton Wins Religious Freedom Victory,"
by Jim Brown, Agape Press, May 17, 2005
- "University reverses policy on faith groups,"
by Chanakya Sethi, The Daily Princetonian, May 13, 2005
- "Princeton recognizes Christian group initially denied campus sanction,"
by Chris Newmarker, Associated Press, May 11, 2005