Crucial Victory for Freedom of Religion and Association at Southern Illinois University

By July 11, 2006

Check out today’s release on the important court victory at Southern Illinois University: 

Yesterday, a federal appeals court ordered Southern Illinois University’s (SIU’s) School of Law to grant a Christian student group the same rights as secular student groups on its campus. The court ordered a preliminary injunction requiring the school to recognize the group and sent the case back to the lower court for trial. Last year, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) filed an amicus brief in the case, urging the appeals court to reach this very result.

This victory is of great significance for an entire category of FIRE cases. A few weeks ago I was asked to give a speech on a panel for Religious Freedom Day on Capitol Hill. At the speech I emphasized that: 

tudents and faculty who are openly or devoutly religious are increasingly marginalized at America’s colleges and universities. The mere expression of religious beliefs in public is often condemned or even punished as “harassment” or “discrimination.” At dozens of universities across the country, religious groups have been denied official university recognition merely because they wished to form groups devoted to their faith and to exclude those who do not share their faith. The right to form groups according to a set of beliefs is a basic human and constitutional right, but too many colleges that recognize the rights of dozens—even hundreds—of student groups ignore this principle when the groups are based upon an evangelical Christian or traditional Muslim faith.

FIRE has seen shameful attempts to deny freedom of association for religious students at colleges across the country. This opinion hopefully puts us one step closer to ending these abuses for good.

Schools: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale