Princeton University: Refusal to Recognize Religious Group

Category: Due Process, Religious Liberty
Schools: Princeton University

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.

  • Students fight for rights

    June 22, 2006

    There may be an end in sight to the long reign of one-sided intellectual discourse on the nation’s colleges and universities. New, on-campus movements by students as well as interest from state and federal lawmakers are beginning to make headway in guaranteeing intellectual freedom for all students. According to Sara Dothan, campus director for Students for Academic Freedom (SAF), students at more than 150 campuses across the country have started SAF chapters to fight for the passage of an academic bill of rights. The organization is growing rapidly and having an impact on campuses, Dothan said. “One of the biggest […]

    » Read More

  • Campus Conscience Police?

    December 21, 2005

    “Over one’s inner mind, and self, no one has coercive power.” So write attorneys Jordan Lorence and Harvey A. Silverglate, authors of the just-published Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The Guide is yet another indication that political correctness is faltering on campuses across North America. To those who value the right of individuals to a conscience—that is, to judge right and wrong for themselves—this is welcome news. Political correctness is the belief that certain ideas and attitudes are improper and, so, should be discouraged or prohibited by […]

    » Read More

  • University reverses policy on faith groups

    May 13, 2005

    Nassau Hall has reversed its policy on the recognition of religious student groups after being contacted by an outside civil liberties organization that protested the treatment of one such group as an “ongoing injustice.” Under the new policy, religious student groups with ties to faith organizations without established “campus ministries” will be considered for official student group status using the same criteria as other groups. Previously, such student groups were denied recognition. The policy change allowed Princeton Faith and Action (PFA), a new evangelical group, to seek official student group status — which it was recently granted. PFA is affiliated […]

    » Read More

  • Princeton recognizes Christian group initially denied campus sanction

    May 11, 2005

    PRINCETON, N.J. — After being initially rebuffed by a Princeton University official, a group of evangelical Christian students who wanted access to facilities and the chance to apply for funds has won a victory. After the university’s dean of religious life refused recognition for Princeton Faith and Action, the group appealed to a campus rights group that successfully lobbied the university to change its procedures. “We found Princeton’s quick and fair response very encouraging. We’ve found other colleges who haven’t been particularly fair to religious groups, sometimes in an unconstitutional way,” said Greg Lukianoff, an official with the Philadelphia-based Foundation […]

    » Read More

  • Christian Student Group at Princeton Wins Religious Freedom Victory

    May 17, 2005

    Princeton University has decided it will no longer deny official recognition to an evangelical Christian student group. The school’s Dean of Religious Life, Thomas Breidenthal, had withheld recognized status from Princeton Faith and Action, but the university administration reversed course after an advocacy group intervened. Princeton Faith and Action (PFA) is associated with the Christian Union, an off-campus ministry that had its own request to apply to have a full-time chaplain on campus rejected by Dean Breidenthal last year. In March 2005, after being blocked from reserving campus space through an existing recognized Christian student group, students organized PFA in […]

    » Read More

  • Victory for Freedom of Association and Religious Liberty at Princeton University

    May 11, 2005

    PRINCETON, N.J., May 11, 2005—In an important victory for religious liberty and freedom of association, Princeton University has decided to recognize a Christian student group that had been arbitrarily denied official recognition. After the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) wrote to Princeton on behalf of the Princeton Faith and Action (PFA) student group to remind the school of its stated commitments to freedom of religion and association, the university quickly moved to restore PFA’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 […]

    » Read More

  • FIRE Letter to Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman, April 19, 2005

    April 19, 2005

    April 19, 2005 President Shirley M. Tilghman Office of the President 1 Nassau Hall Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey 08544 URGENT   Sent by U.S. Mail and Facsimile (609-258-1615) Dear President Tilghman: As you can see from our Directors (including FIRE co-founders and Princeton University alumni Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate) and Board of Advisors, FIRE unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, due process, legal equality and—in the matter of the Princeton Faith and Action student group—voluntary association, freedom of speech, and religious […]

    » Read More