Thursday, February 27, 2014

Purdue University Rejects Reference to “God’s physical laws”—Donor Threatens Legal Action

IN THE SCHOOL

This week, Liberty Institute and our volunteer attorneys sent a demand letter to Purdue University on behalf of a university alumnus who was told the language he wanted to use on a proposed plaque honoring his parents was rejected for including a reference to “God’s physical laws.” 

The letter, sent Wednesday by attorneys from Liberty Institute and Covington & Burling LLP (our volunteer attorneys in this case), explains that Purdue rejected Dr. Michael McCracken’s choice of language after he and his wife made a $12,500 pledge to the university’s School of Mechanical Engineering.

When asked by the university to supply the language for a plaque to dedicate a small conference room, Dr. McCracken chose an inscription that would honor the legacy of his parents: “To those who seek to better the world through the understanding of God’s physical laws and innovation of practical solutions.”  Purdue rejected that language because of its concern that the plaque “more likely than not” would be deemed a government endorsement of religion, opting instead to permit a plaque mentioning Dr. McCracken’s parents without any use of the word “God.”

PROTECTING OUR FIRST AMENDMENT
“Purdue’s ban on any reference to God by a private speaker violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution,” said Jeremiah Dys, Senior Counsel to Liberty Institute.  “Dr. McCracken’s plaque language is private speech that is protected by the First Amendment.  Purdue allows dozens of other private speakers to express their values and views on plaques around campus; it cannot legally single out Dr. McCracken for discrimination.”

Read the entire letter here. 

The letter, sent on February 26, asks Purdue University to restore the original language of Dr. McCracken’s plaque by March 5.  If Purdue University does nothing, Dr. McCracken has authorized his legal team to preserve his First Amendment freedoms through litigation.

DEFENDING AND RESTORING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization dedicated solely to defending and restoring religious liberty across America – in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena.

We have a 99% win rate because of the generous support we receive from friends like you! Please, consider a gift today to help us continue to defend Dr. McCracken and others who have had their First Amendment rights violated.


About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.