A federal judge said Tuesday the University of Iowa must reinstate a Christian student group the school had kicked off campus last year after it refused to let a gay man who disagreed with the group’s positions hold a leadership position.
Judge Stephanie M. Rose said it appeared the school didn’t enforce its non-discrimination policy evenly among other student groups, but engaged in “selective enforcement” against Business Leaders in Christ.
She ordered the university to reinstate the organization status within 90 days.
Business Leaders in Christ requires its leaders to pledge to uphold core values like avoiding “sexual immorality.” It said the man was rejected because he opposed the group’s core ideals.
The man claimed he was ousted because he was openly gay, and the university sided with him, saying Business Leaders was discriminating.
Judge Rose, though, said the school appeared to target the group.
“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.
“Public universities can’t tell religious student groups what to believe or who to pick as their leaders,” said Eric Baxter, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a law firm in D.C., which represented the student group.
BLinC makes all of its student leaders vow to uphold the group’s faith statement, which says they “should conduct their careers without the greed, racism, sexual immorality, and selfishness that all too often arise in business, political, and cultural institutions.”
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