U. of Iowa Discriminates Against Religious Orgs, Despite Court Ruling

‘We invite the university to embrace a common sense understanding of its non-discrimination policy…’

Christian Club Sues After Univ. of Iowa Kicks It Off Campus

University of Iowa campus/IMAGE: YouTube

(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) After winning a court battle against the University of Iowa this summer, a Christian organization is still fighting the school and seeking permanent equal treatment for all organizations on campus.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship forced the university to admit in court that “it discriminates against religious student groups,” according to Becket, a non-profit conservative law firm representing the group.

But the University of Iowa is refusing to enact permanent changes that would prevent other religious groups from being discriminated against.

“In the name of non-discrimination, the University of Iowa discriminated against more than a dozen diverse religious groups–including Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs,” Daniel Blomberg, senior counsel at Becket, said in a statement. “That’s Orwellian. Real diversity requires real differences.”

In July, the university asked student groups to include a human rights clause in their governing documents. This clause forced groups to allow any student, no matter their beliefs, to become a club leader. This rule would have required InterVarsity—an explicitly Christian group —to allow students who might not share the club’s religious beliefs to become leaders.

InterVarsity refused to adopt the clause, citing its religious freedom under the Constitution. The school then threatened to “deregister” them, which would revoke the club’s privileges that every other student group enjoys.

Other student groups that would have been kicked off campus were the Sikh Awareness Club, Chinese Student Christian Fellowship, Imam Mahdi Organization and the Latter-Day Saint Student Association.

“The university has—quite rightly—long respected the differences inherent in Greek groups, sports clubs, and ideological groups. The First Amendment requires the university to do the same for religious groups,” Blomberg said.

After InterVarsity took the University of Iowa to court, school administrators agreed to allow the Christian group and all other deregistered religious groups to temporarily remain on campus while the litigation continues.

But the school has yet to adopt a permanent reform to the discriminatory rule.

“InterVarsity seeks to serve the University of Iowa, its students and faculty, and the local community,” Greg Jao, director of External Relations at InterVarsity, said in a statement.

“We invite the university to embrace a common sense understanding of its non-discrimination policy. The policy should protect, rather than penalize, religious groups that seek to retain their religious identity on campus.”