A Christian student group has sued the University of Iowa, demanding a religious exemption from the school’s anti-discrimination rules.
The case is being brought by a ten-member student group called Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC), which lost its campus registration last year after it discriminated against a gay student. The group argues that the university discriminated against them on the basis of religion, claiming that their homophobia is a sincerely held religious conviction.
BLinC is a student group started at the university’s business school that meets on campus for weekly Bible study.
Last February, Marcus Miller, a member of the group, filed a complaint with the university claiming the group discriminated against him because he’s gay. He offered to be the group’s vice president, and said that he was turned down because of his sexual orientation.
According to the group, any student can join BLIC, but leadership positions are reserved for people who accept their statement of faith, which says that a person must “embrace, not reject, their God-given sex” and oppose marriage between two people of the same sex.
“Every other sexual relationship beyond this is outside of God’s design and is not in keeping with God’s original plan for humanity,” the statement says.
In November, BLinC’s campus registration was revoked. This meant that they couldn’t reserve space on campus, use the university’s communications networks, or spend money from student activity fees.
BLinC has now filed suit in federal court, arguing that it “cannot and will not ask leaders who do not share its beliefs to lead members in prayer or to convey those beliefs.”
BLinC’s attorney, Eric Baxter who works for the anti-LGBTQ organization Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said, “You would never ask an environmental group to have a climate denier as their leader. It’s the same thing here.”
Well, except that being a climate denier isn’t a fundamental part of one’s identity. It’s a belief about science.
Moreover, an environmental group’s purpose includes pushing back against climate denial. Is Baxter saying that the purpose of Christianity to discriminate against LGBTQ people?
University of Iowa spokesperson Jeneane Beck said that the school has an obligation to promote “equal opportunity and equal access to membership, programming, facilities, and benefits” in student groups for “all persons.”
Of course, the group can still meet and do whatever they want, they just can’t use the university’s resources, since other students have a right to expect that those resources aren’t used to advance discrimination.
If conservative Christians don’t want the government intruding on their religious practices, then they shouldn’t be using government resources.
Miller has since started his own campus-recognized, Christian student group that accepts LGBTQ people called Love Works.