University of Iowa Boots Christian Student Group

by David Nussman  •  •  December 14, 2017   

Club leaders file lawsuit in response

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IOWA CITY, Iowa ( - The University of Iowa got rid of a faith-based club, and the Christian group's leaders are responding with a discrimination lawsuit.

A small student club, Business Leaders in Christ, wanted to make sure its leaders reflected the club's values and beliefs. On September 1, the University of Iowa's administrators said the club was allowed to do so, as long as the beliefs were stated clearly and publicly.

In compliance, Business Leaders in Christ uploaded a Christian belief statement to its constitution, as well as its university webpage. But in mid-November, the university responded by insisting that the club alter its belief statement. The university then got rid of the club.

Now, the club is filing a lawsuit against the University of Iowa. The suit, filed in a local U.S. district court on Monday, accuses the university of discrimination.

The attorneys on the case are from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The organization is named after Catholic martyr St. Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury. He was killed by soldiers of the king in 1170 A.D., owing to a complicated series of political intrigues. Becket repeatedly stood up for the rights of the Church and was ultimately martyred for it.

A spokesperson from the Becket Fund shared with Church Militant comments from one of the attorneys on the case, Daniel Blomberg. He said, "The university said that the way Business Leaders in Christ expressed its beliefs and selected its leaders is, on its face, discriminatory. But Business Leaders in Christ is open for all students to be members of the group, and the only qualification for being a leader of Business Leaders in Christ is that students embrace Business Leaders in Christ's Christian faith."

"Many student groups at the university require not just leaders but also members to agree with or match the group's mission," Blomberg continued.

He argued that the club leaders were "just asking that they be treated the same way as other student groups."

Our beliefs weren't made by us, and they can't be changed by us either — certainly not just to satisfy Orwellian government rules.

An article in the Washington Examiner echoed this sentiment, "Fraternities and sororities can limit membership to men and women. Pro-choice groups can reject students who are pro-life and vice versa. Feminist groups may require members to support their cause. And environmental groups can choose leaders who support theirs."

Club President Jacob Estell said, "This is 2017, not 1984. Our beliefs weren't made by us, and they can't be changed by us either — certainly not just to satisfy Orwellian government rules."

This is an allusion to the book 1984 by George Orwell. The novel describes a nightmarish future in which a Communist government, nicknamed "Big Brother," carefully monitors each citizen's every move.

The spokesperson from the Becket Fund sent us a copy of the club constitution of Business Leaders in Christ. The document specifically does not require that members be Christian; it only requires this of officers. The statement of faith that officers are required to sign has a certain Protestant slant; it names the Bible as "the supreme and final authority," adding, "No other writings are vested with such divine authority."

Another doctrine listed in the statement of faith is "The Doctrine of Integrity." One part of the paragraph reads, "In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness and vice and all forms of sexual immorality, including pornography. We believe God's intention for a sexual relationship is to be between a husband and wife in the lifelong covenant of marriage."

Given the prominence of both homosexuality and the hookup culture on many college campuses, this might have been one of the things that administrators were upset about and labeled as "discriminatory."

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