A conservative religious freedom law group claims that the University of Iowa has created a “watch list” highlighting religious student groups that have what the school claims are discriminatory leadership policies.
Becket, a non-profit legal group that works to defend First Amendment rights, announced in a press release Tuesday that the University of Iowa admitted in court last Friday that it has a list in which over 30 religious student groups are singled out for leadership policies that are said to violate the school’s human rights code and the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
The university’s human rights policy bars discrimination on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender among other identifiers.
Becket explains that the school’s disclosure was made in response to a federal court’s demand that the university identifies all of the student groups that it de-registered last year because of their leadership policies.
In the case of Christian groups that were de-registered, they hold policies that require leaders in the group to be Christian and affirm and live in accordance with the groups’ statements of faith.
Student groups of other faiths and even some secular groups with certain leadership criteria were also impacted.
The issue was driven to the forefront of the university’s attention when a gay student was denied a leadership position in the group Business Leaders in Christ after he failed to accept the group’s statement of faith opposing homosexuality.
After being de-recognized as an official student group, Business Leaders in Christ filed a lawsuit claiming that the policy had been unfairly applied and was not being applied evenly to other campus groups, including other religious student groups.
After de-recognizing other student groups with similar policies, those students groups were temporarily reinstated last August after InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship threatened to file its own lawsuit. The groups are temporarily reinstated until litigation involving these matters are settled.
According to Becket, the religious groups listed on what it calls a “watch list” are placed on “probationary status.” However, the university denies that the groups are in “probationary status” and stresses that the groups are still granted full access as registered groups.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith