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Five Religious Student Organizations Support Christian Group's Lawsuit Against University of Iowa

University of Iowa

Five faith-based student organizations have filed a brief in support of a Christian group that is suing the University of Iowa for religious discrimination.

Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) filed a lawsuit in federal court last month claiming UI penalized the group because of its religious beliefs concerning human sexuality. The university ended BLinC’s status as a registered student organization after it allegedly denied a leadership position to a gay student.

Four Christian groups and one Jewish group—Chi Alpha, 24:7, Ratio Christi, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, and Chabad on Campus—are supporting BLinC’s request to be reinstated as a student organization while the lawsuit plays out.

"While religious student groups invite everyone to their meetings and activities, they do require support of their basic religious convictions from individuals seeking to assume a leadership role," the brief reads. "Anything less threatens their effectiveness and the very existence of these groups."

A UI spokesperson previously said the university "found Business Leaders in Christ violated the UI’s Human Rights Policy and the Iowa Civil Rights Act."

The state of Iowa is opposing BLinC’s request to be reinstated, writing, "BLinC seeks to preserve its rights under religious freedom. However, the University of Iowa has a right and obligation to ensure an open and non-discriminatory environment on campus."

The state continues, "The court must carefully weigh the compelling interest of religious freedom on the one hand and the compelling interest of preventing discrimination on the other hand."

Attorney Caleb Dalton with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a national conservative Christian nonprofit, is representing the "friends of the court." Dalton says his direct clients are national faith-based organizations that have active chapters at the University of Iowa.

BLinC is represented by attorneys from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which 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.

A hearing on BLinC’s request to be reinstated is set for Thursday, Jan. 18 in Davenport.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter