WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a supportive statement of interest in a federal court case involving a Christian group at the University of Iowa that had been de-recognized for not allowing a student to serve in a leadership position because he refused to adhere to the group’s biblical beliefs as they pertain to sexuality.
The First Amendment freedoms of association, speech, and religion prohibit public colleges and universities from suppressing the expression and beliefs of student groups that officials disagree with,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband with the Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “The University of Iowa in this case de-registered Business Leaders in Christ because university officials did not like its message. That is forbidden by the Constitution.”
The organization believes that “God’s intention for a sexual relationship is to be between a husband and a wife in the lifelong covenant of marriage. Every other sexual relationship beyond this is outside of God’s design and is not in keeping with God’s original plan for humanity.” Students who do not adhere to the group’s beliefs are welcome as members, but cannot hold leadership positions.
In March 2106, a male member approached one of the leaders of the group to advise that he was interested in serving as vice president. He was then asked about his walk with Christ to determine whether or not he would be able to provide spiritual leadership to BLinC.
During the discussion, the student disclosed that he was struggling to reconcile his feelings toward the same sex with his profession of faith. The two then looked at Scriptures regarding what the Bible has to say about God’s boundaries for sexual behavior, and prayed together. The student was also advised that the group’s executive board would have to decide whether or not he would be eligible for a leadership position.
The board returned a decision that leaders must agree with the teachings of the Bible and be willing to turn from any conduct that the Scriptures state are sinful. It expressed concern that the student did not appear open to refraining from acting on his temptations toward the same sex.
A BLinC leader then asked the student if he would adhere to the group’s beliefs regarding sexual conduct, and he advised that he conversely intended on seeking out a same-sex relationship.
He was consequently advised that such a decision would prohibit him from serving in leadership because it conflicted with the organization’s biblical morals. It was also outlined to the student that he was not being denied the position simply because of his homosexual inclinations, but because he willfully intended to act on them rather than following the Bible as a professing Christian.
The student soon filed a complaint with the university, stating that he was being discriminated against because he was “openly gay” and requested that the group either be forced to allow homosexual leaders or that their registration status be revoked.
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