Judge orders university to reinstate Christian student group

Nikita Vladimirov
Investigative Reporter

  • A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the University of Iowa must reinstate a Christian student group that had lost its official status for requiring its leaders to endorse a "Statement of Faith."
  • The judge wrote that the school had engaged in "selective enforcement" of its non-discrimination policy, giving administrators 90 days to restore recognition to the Business Leaders in Christ.
  • A federal court has ruled that the University of Iowa must reinstate a Christian organization that was banned from campus for refusing to provide a leadership role to a gay student.

    As previously reported by Campus Reform, the Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) sued the university last year, arguing that the public institution revoked its official status after a student accused the organization of denying him a leadership role because he is “openly gay.”

    "Every other group on campus gets to select leaders who embrace their mission. Religious groups don’t get second-class treatment."   

    [RELATED: Christian students claim school told them to 'revise' beliefs]

    In its lawsuit, the organization maintained that “the charge was false” and that “BLinC declined the student’s request because he expressly stated that he rejected BLinC’s religious beliefs and would not follow them.”

    Judge Stephanie M. Rose sided with the Christian group Tuesday, stating that the school appeared to engage in “selective enforcement” of its non-discrimination policy that was not rigorously applied to other student organizations.

    “In light of this selective enforcement, the Court finds BLinC has established the requisite fair chance of prevailing on the merits of its claims under the Free Speech Clause,” the judge wrote. “Because BLinC has established the required likelihood of success on one of its claims, the Court will not address BLinC’s claims under the Religious Clauses.”

    [RELATED: Students accused of ‘hatred’ for defending traditional marriage]

    The ruling echoed the arguments made by BLinC, which claimed that when the school rendered its decision, it “singled out BLinC’s Christian beliefs about sexual morality, finding that these beliefs, on their face, were discriminatory and impermissible.”

    Central to the debate was the organization’s “Statement of Faith” articulating “what it means to be a disciple of Christ.”

    In the past, the group underscored that in an attempt to “preserve and fully express its religious mission, BLinC requires all of its leaders (but not members) to affirm that they will embrace and follow the Statement of Faith.”

    The plaintiffs accused the university of instructing the group submit an “acceptable plan” for leadership elections and revise its Statement of Faith if it wants to keep its official status on campus.

    [RELATED: Prof alleges rampant anti-Christian discrimination in academia]

    “The University knows that what it is doing to BLinC is unfair, illegal, and unconstitutional,” the group argued. “It allows other student groups to define their own mission and limit both leadership and membership to those who embrace that mission.”

    In a press release from Becket, the firm that represented BLinC in court, Senior Counsel Eric Baxter exulted that the judge “agreed that the University has to stop discriminating against BLinC because of its religious beliefs,” saying that “every other group on campus gets to select leaders who embrace their mission,” and now religious groups will no longer be subjected to “second-class treatment.”

    According to Becket, the school will now have 90 days to reinstate BLinC as an official student organization.

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    Nikita Vladimirov

    Nikita Vladimirov

    Investigative Reporter
    Nikita Vladimirov is an Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. Prior to joining Campus Reform, he wrote for The Hill, where he extensively covered the latest political developments in U.S. and around the world. Vladimirov's work has appeared on the front pages of The Drudge Report and The Hill, and has been featured by several media organizations including Fox News, MSN, Real Clear Politics and others. He has also appeared as a political commentator on numerous programs, including BBC radio.
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