Purdue Recognizes Campus Group’s Religious Liberty

November 19, 2003

At Purdue University, a public university in Indiana, administrators told an association of Christian women, living together in a Cooperative Residence that the group owns, that they would either have to add a "non-discrimination" clause to their constitution or risk losing their status as a group with campus rights and, indeed, their very home. The clause would have required them not to consider sex or religious beliefs when choosing members, effectively prohibiting this Christian women’s group from deciding to be exclusively Christian and female. FIRE wrote a letter on the group’s behalf to Purdue’s president, Martin Jischke, pointing out that the First Amendment’s protections for voluntary association, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion forbid public institutions from forcing religious groups to abide by such policies. The letter reminded the university that "a Christian organization has a right to be Christian." To his credit, President Jischke responded quickly with assurances to FIRE that this and other religious groups would be exempted from this policy. FIRE wishes that all universities were so willing to promptly recognize their errors and do the right thing.