University evicts Christian club over leadership faith requirement

A Christian student group is suing the University of Iowa for discrimination after they were booted off campus for requiring student leaders to embrace Christian religious beliefs -- including a clause on sexual morality.

The university stripped The Business Leaders in Christ of their status on campus after a member claimed he was denied a leadership position for being openly gay. The group, however, says the member was rejected because “he expressly stated that he rejected BLinC’s religious beliefs and would not follow them.”

“Members should conduct their careers without the greed, racism, sexual immorality and selfishness that all too often arise in business, political, and cultural institutions,” a portion of group's statement of faith says.

University of Iowa spokesperson Anne Bassett issued a statement to Fox News accusing BLinC of violating the school's Human Rights Policy and the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

"...When a voluntary student organization chooses to become a registered student organization, it must adhere to the mission of the university, the UI’s policies and procedures, and all local, state, and federal laws," said Bassett, who also emphasized the school's 20 religious student organizations on campus and "the worship opportunities in the surrounding community."

As a de-registered student group, BLinC no longer receives funding or access to university facilities enjoyed by the other 500 student groups. To get back in the school's good graces, BLinC would have to amended its statement of faith and submit an “acceptable plan” for selecting leaders.

“This is 2017, not 1984,” BLinC student president, Jacob Estell, said. “Our beliefs weren’t made by us, and they can’t be changed by us either -- certainly not just to satisfy Orwellian government rules.” 

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the law firm representing BLinC in federal court, argues the university is targeting the Christian group because it dislikes their religious beliefs.

“The university knows that what it is doing to BLinC is unfair, illegal, and unconstitutional,” the complaint prepared by the firm says, adding that, while BLinC only requires adherence to their beliefs for their leaders and not their members, university policy is that campus organizations can require members to believe a certain way.

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Eric Baxter, senior counsel at Becket, told Fox News, for example, that feminist groups choose feminist leaders and pro-life groups pick pro-life leaders. So why should BLinC be treated any different?

“This is premeditated religious discrimination, plain and simple,” Baxter said. “We hope that this serves as a reminder to universities everywhere that they cannot discriminate against student groups just because they don’t like their beliefs.”

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for FoxNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke