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Judge Rules in Favor of Christian Student Group in Iowa Religious Freedom Case

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A judge ruled Wednesday that the University of Iowa cannot deregister a Christian student group based on its statement of faith.

The statement of faith required leaders to acknowledge sexual relations did not happen outside of marriage and every individual needed to embrace their “God-given sex.”

Business Leaders in Christ was formed by the university’s Tippie College of Business students to provide a space for Christian students to network, hold group discussions and “keep Christ first in the fast-paced business world,” according to a Department of Justice statement of interest filed on Dec. 21, 2018.

The group stopped receiving recognition from the university in November 2017 due to the statement of faith, which the public university found to discriminate against its anti-discrimination policy.

BLinC could get back their recognition if the religious beliefs were changed, according to nonprofit Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

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“The university wanted a license to discriminate, and Judge Rose said no way,” Vice President and Senior Counsel at Becket Eric Baxter said in a statement, obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation through the nonprofit’s media relations associate Ryan Colby.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa judge Stephanie Rose said in the decision that the university allowed certain groups on campus to restrict access based on their requirements.

One organization, Love Works, demanded leaders to sign “a gay-affirming statement of Christian faith.” Another group, House of Lorde, conducted interviews for potential members to ensure there is “a space for Black Queer individuals.”

“The Constitution does not tolerate the way defendants chose to enforce the human rights policy,” the decision said.

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“Particularly when free speech is involved, the uneven application of any policy risks the most exacting standard of judicial scrutiny, which the defendants have failed to withstand.”

Jake Estell, part of BLinC, said in a statement obtained by TheDCNF through Colby that the ruling ensures all students can express different points of views freely.

“This victory reinforces the commonsense idea that universities can’t target religious student groups for being religious,” Estell said.

The university plans to follow the court ruling, according to the Des Moines Register.

The University of Iowa did not immediately respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

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