Christian group asks judge to return as UI club

Published: Jan. 18, 2018 at 10:44 PM CST
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A student group is asking a judge to force the University of Iowa to allow them back on campus. The group, Business Leaders in Christ, says the university unfairly kicked them out because they didn't let a gay man be a group leader.

Alex Bare is the Outreach Director for Spectrum UI, the first LGBT university club in the United States. He says what Business Leaders in Christ did wasn't right.

"The sole reason he didn't get that position was for his identity. A fully qualified person in all other pursuits yet because of that aspect of his identity they were denied that position," said Bare.

Business Leaders in Christ says the University isn't allowing it to honor its beliefs, that intimate relationships should only be between one man and one woman in marriage.

"When they become a student organization officially they agree to be open to the student body," said Bare. "In doing so, they agree to accept students of all identities."

The University of Iowa requires groups that have campus privileges, such as free meeting space and funding from student fees, must follow the Human Rights Clause, which bars groups from treating people differently based on things like race, status as a U.S. veteran, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Business Leaders in Christ says that aspect of university rules stifles their religious freedom, something they say the constitution guarantees.

"They are free to continue as an organization, no one is telling them they can't meet. However, because this is a public institution, because they are receiving funding in many aspects, and receiving location to hold meetings, they need to abide by non-discrimination policies, which our state recognizes as sexual orientation," said Bare.

Neither Business Leaders in Christ nor the student in question has answered TV9's calls.

The University of Iowa has sent TV9 the following statement regarding the issue:

"The University of Iowa does not tolerate discrimination of any kind in accordance with federal and state law.

"The University of Iowa respects the right of students, faculty, and staff to practice the religion of their choice. During orientation, new students are invited to learn about the 20 religious student organizations on campus and the worship opportunities in the surrounding community

"However, when a voluntary student organization chooses to become a registered student organization, it must adhere to the mission of the university, the UI’s policies and procedures, and all local, state, and federal laws. The University of Iowa recently found Business Leaders in Christ violated the UI’s Human Rights Policy and the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

"Membership and participation in the organization must be open to all students without regard to race, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, disability, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, service in the U.S. military, sexual orientation, gender identity, associational preferences, or any other classification that deprives the person of consideration as an individual. The organization will guarantee that equal opportunity and equal access to membership, programming, facilities, and benefits shall be open to all persons."