A Christian student group that was accused of discrimination after refusing to allow an openly gay student to become a senior leader recently won the right to keep functioning as a registered group at the University of Iowa.
After the initial incident, the university argued that the “Business Leaders in Christ” group should lose its official status for refusing to adhere to its anti-discrimination guidelines.
Despite pre-approving BLinC’s official membership until the end of June, UI decided it would attempt to banish the group for good by taking them to court.
“In this case, the University of Iowa’s Human Rights Policy is content neutral and generally applicable to all registered student organizations,” the university declared in its filing.
But last month, U.S. District Court Judge Stephanie Rose quickly rejected the request, noting that the university has not been applying its comprehensive set of rules across all student groups equally, and was therefore targeting BLinC.
“It appears a large number of student organizations were operating in violation of the university’s stated policies at the time the university revoked BLinC’s registered student organization status,” Judge Rose wrote in her opinion June 28, referring to new data provided by the UI’s own review of how it applies its “human rights policy.”
In response to the ruling, The Gazette reported that UI deregistered some 38 additional student groups, including, ironically, “Students for Human Rights.” Other groups to get the ax included the “American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry,” “Chinese Student Christian Fellowship,” “Asian Pacific American Student Association” and the “Bass Fishing Team (Iowa)” — all for failing to comply with the school’s strict anti-discrimination guidelines.
“The university does not reconcile that fact with how the proceedings against BLinC were carried out,” the judge continued. “Presently, too much remains unknown about what role BLinC’s viewpoint played, if any, in the decision to deregister the group.”
After siding with the Christian group, Judge Rose is allowing BLinC to remain on campus and continue receiving all the benefits associated with being a fully-registered student group at the university.
According to a description of the group’s vision and activities, Business Leaders in Christ is “on a mission to create a community of followers of Christ” within the University’s business school.
“Through our organization, you will get to share and gain wisdom on how to practice business that is both Biblical and founded on God’s truth,” the blurb continues. “We do this by reading scripture together, hosting Christian business professionals, and serving our community.”
In a statement following the ruling, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the organization that has been representing the student group during protracted legal battle, called the university’s actions toward BLinC “premeditated religious discrimination, plain and simple.”
“The University’s own policies expressly state that the University cannot stop religious groups from screening leaders based on their faith,” the statement continued. “And the University initially told BLinC that it could select leaders based on their commitment to its religious beliefs, so long as its beliefs were clearly identified so students would be aware.”
(H/T: The Gazette)