‘For a public institution to single out religious student groups and threaten their expulsion is textbook Big Brother…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) The University of Iowa denied that it has a “watch-list” of religious student organizations after a Christian conservative student group accused the school of discrimination.
According to Becket, a legal nonprofit representing the group, the University of Iowa admitted in court that it has a list of 32 religious student groups that it has placed on “probationary status.”
The school was forced to reveal the list after Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) took administrators to court for kicking the group off campus.
The list names all of the 579 registered student groups and highlights the religious groups because these clubs, like BLinC, require their leaders to share and affirm their religious beliefs. The school deemed this requirement “discriminatory” and placed Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and other religious clubs on probationary status, which means they can’t meet on-campus, receive school funds and more.
“For a public institution to single out religious student groups and threaten their expulsion is textbook Big Brother,” Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, said in a statement. “The university’s blatant double-standard and its desire to target and track religious groups in the name of ‘nondiscrimination,’ while ignoring dozens of other bigger groups who engage in more so-called ‘discrimination,’ is doublethink that would make the Ministry of Truth blush.”
The university fired back and said the allegation of a religious watch-list is a “misrepresentation of the facts.” The school insists “all religious organizations remain in registered status” while litigation continues, according to Fox News.
University officials said BLinC was accused of discrimination because they refused to allow a homosexual student to become a club leader. It’s a matter of “the conflict that currently exists between the First Amendment and the Iowa Civil Rights Act,” according to Hayley Bruce, a spokesperson for the school.
But Baxter said the school is clearly violating students’ First Amendment rights by telling religious groups that they can’t even “encourage” leaders to uphold a certain faith.
“For an institution handing out Ph.D.’s, the university displays an embarrassing ignorance of our nation’s first liberty,” Baxter said. “The First Amendment prohibits the university from telling religious groups who can be their leaders, especially while allowing every other group on campus free reign to pick their leaders—and in many instances their members too.”