Iowa

Judge Says a College Club Has the Right To Demand Its Leaders Abide by Christian Values

The University of Iowa revoked credentials from Business Leaders in Christ for setting sex and marriage requirements for its leaders.

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|||Monkey Business Images/Dreamstime.com
Monkey Business Images/Dreamstime.com

A federal court has ruled in favor of a Christian student group's right to set certain parameters for leadership roles after the University of Iowa stripped the group of its credentials in response to accusations of discrimination.

The Business Leaders in Christ club seeks to provide aspiring business professionals in the Tippie College of Business with guidance on how to lead professional lives that are in keeping with their faith. Should a student decide that they wish to hold a leadership role in the group, they must agree to adhere to certain Christian principles, which include abstaining from sexual activity outside of a marriage between one man and one woman.

In 2016, a former member filed a complaint alleging that they were ineligible to become vice president because they were openly gay. The University of Iowa then revoked the club's status as an official on-campus club pending a change to the language of their charter. Business Leaders in Christ responded by filing a lawsuit against the university, claiming violations of their constitutional rights as well as the Higher Education Act and Iowa Human Rights Act.

On Wednesday, Judge Stephanie M. Rose of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa filed an injunction against the university barring it from revoking the club's credentials.

Becket, which is a religious liberty law firm, said the university had placed 32 groups on probation for requiring certain beliefs of students in leadership roles. All of the groups placed on probation were religious. Additionally, Becket argued that other kinds of student groups were allowed to be selective. Rose's decision also mentioned that some of the non-religious groups on campus were allowed to create selective leadership and membership requirements based on religious views, race, and gender.

Because of the unequal enforcement, Rose concluded that the university's actions violated the First Amendment.

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  1. Whatever happened to the attitude of “If I don’t like your club I’ll go form my own club”? The Great Filter isn’t meteor strikes or nuclear weapons. It’s the pervasive sense of entitlement beings get when life is too easy and they don’t have other, more important, things to worry about.

    1. The Left doesn’t care about being in the “Business Leaders in Christ club “. But they want to ensure no one can join it.

      1. Or perhaps the Left objects to having hypocritical bigots engage in stale discrimination at a public institution, or in having any institution be compelled to endorse and subsidize such discrimination.

        1. I suppose the College Vegan Advocacy Club should be compelled to permit meat eaters in leadership roles as well then hmmm?

    2. Whatever happened to the attitude of “If I don’t like your club I’ll go form my own club”?

      One would think that Christians, of all people, would understand this principle.

    3. That’s the right approach for independent clubs, but these clubs form from within, and are part of, the university. The university should be able to enact reasonable rules, such as no discrimination against protected classes (I don’t like having protected classes, but that’s not the point). The problem here was that they didn’t apply the rules to all groups.

  2. ….they must agree to adhere to certain Christian principles, which include abstaining from sexual activity outside of a marriage between one man and one woman.

    So only threesomes with married couples are allowed?

    1. But do all three people have to be married ahead of time? Man this club’s rules are confusing.

      1. Hagar wrote their bylaws.

  3. >>>which include abstaining from sexual activity outside of a marriage between one man and one woman.

    quel ennui

  4. How dare this business group have standards!
    What next?
    Reading spreadsheets?

  5. Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Dreamstime.com

    *sees picture of black man at head of class*

    I get it…

    1. (Shrunken) heads are gonna roll!

    2. Are you sure it isn’t a university in Virginia?

  6. …how to lead professional lives that are in keeping with their faith.

    Rule number one: Make certain your money changer tables are bolted to the floor.

    1. *chuckle*

  7. Should the Math Club president be required to believe in math?

    1. Math club? Should such a racist/sexist club even be allowed to exist?!?

  8. How much you gotta be gay to head the gay club.

    1. Interesting that you mentioned that – here is the court’s opinion, listing student groups which (unlike the business club) are allowed to discriminate:

      “Love Works, which requires leaders to sign a “gay-affirming statement of Christian faith”; 24-7, which requires leaders to sign and affirm a statement of faith and live according to a code of conduct (which includes abstaining from sexual
      conduct and relations outside of traditional marriage); House of Lorde, which implements membership “interview[s]” to maintain “a space for Black Queer individuals and/or the support thereof”; the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, which limits membership to “enrolled Chinese Students and Scholars”; and Hawkapellas?Iowa (“Hawkapellas”), an “all-female a cappella group” with membership controlled by “vocal auditions.””

  9. Encouraging exclusive Christian clubs only means kids get through college without the traditional rebellion, self-discovery, and conversion to atheism. It’s not natural.

    1. That would have been true in the past, but being an orthodox christian nowadays is more rebellious than being an atheist. What a time to be alive

      1. If reason and progress bother you, you are not going to like the future, especially in America.

  10. So why do clubs like Business Leaders in Christ want official recognition from the University? Presumably, it’s because that gives them access to support that unofficial clubs don’t get: support that’s financed by the taxpayers of Iowa, or by mandatory activity fees imposed on all students.

    Given that, it’s hard to see this decision as any kind of victory for liberty. Wouldn’t it be better to eliminate the privileged status of recognized clubs, and to compel them to finance themselves rather than reaching into the pockets of the taxpayers or of their fellow students?

    1. Perhaps, but that wasn’t on the tale. BLC wanted to receive the same treatment as other official student clubs. You want to withdraw the benefits of official recognition from all clubs? Go for it. In the meantime, the judge ruled correctly.

      1. The BLC doesn’t want standard treatment. It wants special superstition-based snowflake-coddling privileged treatment.

    2. Discriminating against others based on their faith use to be something liberals opposed.

      1. depends on which faith, mostly

  11. It seems important to remember that not all Christians are hypocritical bigots who cherry-pick the Bible to promote stale right-wingery.

    Some Christians even believe the ‘love thy neighbor’ and ‘don’t be a greedy, selfish bastard’ parts.

    1. And not all rev. kirklands are predictable hacks. For instance, there’s Rev. Arthur l Kirkland.

      1. Disaffected, vanquished, safe-space-craving right-wingers are among my favorite faux libertarians.

    2. I prefer the prohibition against making your neighbor give up his ghoast.

    3. I prefer the prohibition against making your neighbor give up his ghoast.

    4. I prefer the prohibition against making your neighbor give up his ghoast.

    5. I prefer the prohibition against making your neighbor give up his ghoast.

  12. The part of this decision that stinks is that the university defendants were granted immunity from personal responsibility for damages.

    1. The good news about is that “it was a close call” according to the judge and if settled law on these types of cases were a little clearer it would have gone the other way. So university officials are on notice about disparate application of policy….

  13. I was never much of a joiner, and I used to quote Groucho Marx when people suggested clubs to me. “I would never join a club that would take me as a member.” But back in college, a club with a sex requirement would definitely have sparked my interest.

  14. That judge doesn’t sound very woke.

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