A federal court last October held administrators at the University of Iowa personally liable for kicking the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA off campus because the group believes club leaders should be Christians and agree with their statement of faith. Students don’t have to agree with the statement to join.
The school deregistered InterVarsity and other religious clubs as official groups on campus. The school claims the clubs violated their so-called Human Rights Policy. Despite this policy, religious student groups maintain that they have a right to pick individuals to lead others based on shared beliefs. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) issued an announcement in the case (emphases added):
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, on behalf of faith-based campus organizations, filed a friend-of-the-court brief Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit that asks it to uphold a district court’s ruling in favor of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. That decision allows each student group on campus to choose leaders who believe in the group’s mission and standards of conduct and not be forced to consider those who don’t. Currently, the university only extends this freedom to non-religious student groups.
ADF lawyer Michael Ross said universities should be a marketplace of ideas and not force student groups to accept leaders who don’t agree with the groups’ missions. Why would a government-supported school even expect this? ADF lawyer Tyson Langhofer said it’s “critical that universities live by example in demonstrating the importance of those freedoms instead of communicating to an entire generation that the Constitution doesn’t matter.”