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Christian Group Punished For Bigotry Files Lawsuit For Discrimination

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The group discriminated against a gay student. Now it says the school is engaging in religious discrimination.

A conservative Christian group at the University of Iowa believes the school discriminated against its religious beliefs when it was reprimanded for discriminating against a gay student seeking to join its leadership.

If that sounds confusing, allow the Guardian to explain:

The case pits a university policy barring discrimination based on sexual orientation against the religious beliefs of the 10-member group [Business Leaders in Christ], which sued after the state’s flagship university in Iowa City revoked its campus registration in November.

Group member Marcus Miller notified the university when Business Leaders in Christ denied his request to serve as vice president only after learning he is gay.

The group says it denied Miller’s request because he rejected its religious beliefs and would not follow them. Group leaders must affirm a statement of faith that affirms that they “embrace, not reject, their God-given sex” and support the idea that marriage can be only between a man and a woman.

“Every other sexual relationship beyond this is outside of God’s design and is not in keeping with God’s original plan for humanity,” the statement of faith says.

The school summarily revoke the group's registration.

The group’s loss of registration as an on-campus student organization means it can no longer reserve campus meeting space, participate in student recruitment fairs, access funds from student activity fees or use university-wide communication services.

Business Leaders in Christ hopes to regain status via a lawsuit brought on its behalf by the nonprofit law firm Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. A hearing has been set for Thursday.

[University of Iowa] spokeswoman Jeneane Beck said on-campus groups must guarantee “that equal opportunity and equal access to membership, programming, facilities, and benefits shall be open to all persons”.

The university also acknowledged that the court “must carefully weigh the compelling interest of religious freedom on the one hand and the compelling interest of preventing discrimination on the other hand”.

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