Court: The University of Iowa Violated the Constitution When It Kicked a Christian Group Off Campus

A federal court ruled that by kicking a Christian student group off campus for requiring its leaders to abide by Christian beliefs, including what the Bible teaches about sexual morality, the University of Iowa violated the U.S. Constitution.

Like other groups on campus, Business Leaders in Christ requires its leaders to share the organization’s values. The Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin, and group leaders must follow the statement of faith. A homosexual complained, and the school revoked the group’s status.

The court recently heard arguments in the case and ruled in the group’s favor, granting a permanent injunction for reinstatement. From the opinion (PDF):

“The Court suspects that some observers will portray this case as a fundamental conflict between nondiscrimination laws and religious liberty. Appealing as that may be, it overinflates the issues before the Court. The Human Rights Policy promotes valuable goals for both the University and society at large. There is no fault to be found with the policy itself. But the Constitution does not tolerate the way Defendants chose to enforce the Human Rights Policy. Particularly when free speech is involved, the uneven application of any policy risks the most exacting standard of judicial scrutiny, which Defendants have failed to withstand.”

Judge Stephanie Rose said the school applied the “non-discrimination” policy unevenly, allowing other groups with restrictions to remain.

Group member Jake Estell said they’re “grateful the court protected our rights today—to let us have the same right as all student groups to express our viewpoints freely on campus, and to be who we are. This victory reinforces the commonsense idea that universities can’t target religious student groups for being religious.”

Another case involving a Christian group against the University of Iowa is pending. The school kicked InterVarsity off campus over its statement of faith.

Photo credit: By VkulikovOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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