A Christian student group is suing the University of Iowa after being kicked off campus because it requires its leaders to be Christians.
“Universities should allow students the space to form their own groups that challenge and grow their sincere beliefs,” said Daniel Blomberg, senior counsel at Becket, which is representing InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in its lawsuit.
“Banning religious groups from having religious leaders just flattens diversity and impoverishes the campus,” he said in an Aug. 6 statement.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship was one of almost 40 student groups deregistered by the University of Iowa due to its religious leadership standards.
Other groups expelled from campus include the Latter-day Saint Student Association, the Sikh Awareness Club, and the Chinese Student Christian Fellowship.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA works to create Christian communities on college campuses. The organization encourages evangelization, Scriptural study and mission work. It hosts Bible studies, worship services, community discussions, and service projects. While it allows all students to participate as members, it requires leaders to embrace its mission of spreading the message of Christ on campus.
“We’re grateful to have been part of the University community for 25 years, and we think that the University has been a richer place for having Sikh, Muslim, Mormon, Catholic, Jewish, atheist, and Christian groups,” said Katrina Schrock, student president of InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship.
“Because we love our school, we hope it reconsiders and lets religious groups continue to authentically reflect their religious roots.”
In filing a lawsuit on behalf of InterVarsity, Becket says it hopes to have the group reinstated on campus by the upcoming academic year.
The legal group also noted that although the University of Iowa found InterVarsity to be in violation of its non-discrimination policy, it exempted leadership restrictions set in place by sports clubs, fraternities, and political groups on campus.
“If public universities really want to foster an intellectually diverse environment, this isn’t how to do it,” Blomberg said.