InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a student-led group at The University of Iowa, was kicked off campus for requiring members and leaders to agree with faith tenants.
InterVarsity is not the first student-led organization to be kicked off campus; instead, just last year Business Leaders in Christ, another student-led organization, was booted from school grounds because they also required members to comply with its faith tenants.
After the group was kicked off campus, the student-led organization is filing a lawsuit against the school for removing their ability to host an organization. However, like many secular universities across the nation, Christians aren’t welcome.
The student-led group simply asks its leaders and members to follow Jesus Christ, and as a result, the group was disallowed from school grounds. The school, in June of 2018, requested that the group drop its religious leadership standards within two weeks; furthermore, the group was informed that leaders could not even be “strongly encouraged” to share their faith.
InterVarsity is not a new group; instead, the organization has been a part of the school atmosphere for over twenty-five years and after weeks of back and forth with the school, in July of 2018 the University officially deregistered the group, along with dozens of other religious and ideological student groups.
“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.”
The group regularly held Bible studies, worship services, sponsored discussions on important issues, and participated in community service activities such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and the Johnson County C.R.O.P. Hunger Walk (where it’s been the top fund-raiser in six of the last seven years).
The group was made up of multi-ethnic and international students; however, the group’s requirement for leadership was deemed “non-compliant” with its non-discrimination policy. Although, the University has exempted or ignored leadership and membership restrictions set by other student groups, such as sports clubs, fraternities, and political organizations.
“If public universities really want to foster an intellectually diverse environment, this isn’t how to do it,” said Daniel Blomberg, senior counsel at Becket, which is representing InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. “Universities should allow students the space to form their own groups that challenge and grow their sincere beliefs. Banning religious groups from having religious leaders just flattens diversity and impoverishes the campus.”
The University has effectually discriminated against a Christian organization, although, the reason the group was banned from campus is because of the University’s “non-discrimination” policy.