by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
On Wednesday, a federal court ruled that the University of Iowa had illegally targeted religious groups for requiring their leaders to follow their faith. As such, Business Leaders in Christ (BLC), a Christian student group on the University of Iowa’s campus, secured a permanent place on campus.
At the hearing February 1, it was clear the university had not only kicked BLC off campus because of their expression of faith, but had targeted and blacklisted 31 other student groups— only religious ones. The court ruled that the university must stop its unequal treatment of religious student organizations in the name of “anti-discrimination.”
While in court, the University of Iowa admitted to a bombshell: They had been keeping a “watch list” of 32 groups placed on “probationary status.” Every one of the student groups on the list was religious in nature. The list appeared when the court asked the university to identify all the groups that would be affected by a ruling against BLC, and in favor of the University of Iowa’s decision to remove the group after deeming their religious beliefs “discriminatory.”
Under the university’s policy, “religious registered student organizations are not permitted to require their leaders to agree with and live by the organization’s religious beliefs.” This blatant government animus against religious groups on taxpayer-funded college campuses is a direct violation of students’ First Amendment rights and demonstrates significant disdain for religious people, who have every right to gather and express their faith on a public campus.