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Student Organization Sues University of Iowa, Claims Religious Discrimination

University of Iowa

A now-defunct student organization is suing the University of Iowa in federal court for religious discrimination. Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) lost its status as a registered student organization after it allegedly denied a leadership position to a gay student. 

According to the lawsuit, BLinC told a member he wasn’t eligible for a leadership position because "his decision to enter into same-sex relationships was inconsistent with BLinC's religious beliefs."

A University of Iowa spokesperson says the university "recently found Business Leaders in Christ violated the UI's Human Rights Policy and the Iowa Civil Rights Act." Registered student organizations are required to follow the UI's policies and all local, state and federal laws.  

Business Leaders in Christ claims the university is penalizing the group because of its religious beliefs concerning human sexuality. The group is asking a federal judge to order the university to restore its status as a registered student organization while the lawsuit plays out in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. 

Attorneys from the Washington D.C.-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty are helping BLinC in this case. The Becket Fund is known for successfully defending Hobby Lobby in the U.S. Supreme Court when the owners cited their religious beliefs in refusing to provide contraceptive coverage to female employees.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter