Five faith-based student organizations have filed a brief in support of a Christian group that sued the University of Iowa after it was expelled from the school late last year for denying a leadership position to an openly gay student.
The campus registration or Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) was revoked in November after the one student complained that he was not selected for a leadership position because he was openly gay. However, the 10-member student group contended that the man was rejected because of his opposition to the organization's core ideals.
A spokesperson for the university contended that BLinC violated the school's Human Rights Policy and the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
BLinC filed a discrimination lawsuit against the university last month, claiming that the student group was penalized because of its religious beliefs concerning human sexuality.
While the student group's membership is open to anyone, it requires its leaders to affirm a statement of faith, which states that they "should conduct their careers without the greed, racism, sexual immorality, and selfishness that all too often arise in business, political, and cultural institutions."
According to Iowa Public Radio, Four Christian groups and one Jewish group — Chi Alpha, 24:7, Ratio Christi, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, and Chabad on Campus — have filed a brief supporting BLinC in its request to be reinstated as a student organization as the lawsuit proceeds.
"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. Anything less threatens their effectiveness and the very existence of these groups," the brief reads.
The "friends of the court" are being represented by attorney Caleb Dalton with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a national conservative nonprofit. Dalton noted that his clients are national faith-based groups that have active chapters at the University of Iowa.
The state of Iowa has opposed the efforts to reinstate the student group, saying: "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 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," the state continued.
Founded in 2015 by students at the university's Tippie College of Business, BLinC held weekly meetings for Bible study, conducting service projects and mentoring students on "how to continually keep Christ first in the fast-paced business world."
As a de-registered group, BLinC will no longer be allowed to reserve campus meeting space, participate in student recruitment fairs, access funds from student activity fees or use university-wide communication services.
The student group is being represented by Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which successfully defended Hobby Lobby in a U.S. Supreme Court when the owners cited their religious beliefs in their refusal to pay for contraceptive coverage for their female employees.