Federal judge orders Iowa college to reinstate Christian group

On Wednesday, Campus Reform reported that a federal judge ordered the University of Iowa to reinstate a Christian group that was banned from campus for refusing to provide a leadership role to a gay student.

Last year, the group — Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) — sued the university arguing that the public school revoked its official status after a student accused the organization of denying him a leadership role because he is “openly gay.”

According to Campus Reform:

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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.”

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

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

The organization 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.”

BLinC accused the school of instructing them to submit an “acceptable plan” for leadership elections and revise its Statement of Faith if it wants to keep its official status on campus.  In other words, the group was forced to subordinate its religious views to the university’s political correctness.

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

Eric Baxter, Senior Counsel with the firm that represented BLinC, said the judge “agreed that the University has to stop discriminating against BLinC because of its religious beliefs,” adding 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.”

It’s not known, however, if the group will be able to operate permanently.  According to Radio Iowa:

“The court has ordered the university to restore Business Leaders in Christ (BLINC) to registered student organization status for 90 days. The university respects the decision of the court and has acted accordingly by extending an invitation to BLinC to participate in the student organization fair on January 24th. The university will not comment on the merits of the case per its policy on pending litigation.”

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