The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Friday the University of Iowa violated First Amendment rights after deregistering a student Christian group.
Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) stopped receiving recognition from the public university in November 2017 due to the organization’s statement of faith, which the university found “unwelcoming,” according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen Friday.
BLinC was created by the students in the university’s Tippie College of Business. The purpose of the group was to provide a space for Christian students to network, hold group discussions and “keep Christ first in the fast-paced business world,” the DOJ’s statement of interest said. Leaders in the Christian group were required to sign and follow the statement of faith, which included a belief that sexual relations should only occur “between a man and a wife in the lifelong covenant of marriage,” and “every person should embrace, not reject, their God-given sex.”
The university deregistered the group over the faith statement and it claimed it made LGBT people unwelcome and therefore was exclusive, a DOJ news release reported. BLinC filed a lawsuit against the university in December 2017.
“The University of Iowa in this case de-registered Business Leaders in Christ because university officials did not like its message,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “That is forbidden by the Constitution.”
Over a dozen religious-affiliated groups at the University of Iowa were deregistered over the summer as well, nonprofit law firm Becket Fund for Religious Liberty reported. The Sikh Awareness Club, Chinese Student Christian Fellowship, Imam Mahdi organization and Latter-day Saint Student Association were some of the groups kicked off campus, though they were later temporarily reinstated.
A similar case to BLinC was filed by the InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship in August after the group was de-registered in July.
“The University of Iowa does not tolerate discrimination of any kind in accordance with federal and state law,” Jeneane Beck, University of Iowa assistant vice president for external relations, said, the Press-Citizen reported.
The University of Iowa did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.