The Old Capitol Building at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo: Becket Law)

Court Rules Against University That Pushed Out Christian Clubs

By Associated Press

A federal appeals court has upheld a 2019 ruling against the University of Iowa, affirming that the university discriminated against a Christian club by stripping it and dozens of other religious clubs of their registered status.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday found that a lower federal court correctly ruled that the university can’t selectively deregister student organizations. That ruling came on a lawsuit filed by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship after university administrators deregistered its local chapter along with multiple other religious groups.

“We are hard-pressed to find a clearer example of viewpoint discrimination,” the appeals court stated Friday in its ruling.

Daniel Blomberg, an attorney with public interest legal group Becket Law representing InterVarsity, asserted the ruling puts other universities on notice. “Schools are supposed to be a place of free inquiry and open thought, but the school officials here punished opinions they didn’t like and promoted ones they did — all while using taxpayer dollars to do it,” he said.

University of Iowa (UI) had moved to deregister the groups after another faith-based group, Business Leaders in Christ, sued the university for kicking it off campus following a complaint that it wouldn’t let an openly gay member seek a leadership post.

Give a gift of any amount to The Roys Report and receive a copy of “Have we lost our Head?: Reconnecting churches with Jesus” To donate, click here.

The university exempts sororities, fraternities and some sports clubs from its policy prohibiting sex discrimination and allows some groups to require members of specific racial groups, the appeals court said. It even allowed one group, LoveWorks, to require its members to sign a “gay-affirming statement of Christian faith” while disqualifying groups that required members to affirm different religious statements of faith, the court said.

“The university’s choice to selectively apply the Human Rights Policy against InterVarsity suggests a preference for certain viewpoints — like those of LoveWorks—over InterVarsity’s,” Circuit Judge Jonathan Allen Kobes wrote for the panel. “The university focused its ‘clean up’ on specific religious groups and then selectively applied the Human Rights Policy against them. Other groups were simply glossed over or ignored.”

Attorneys with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office listed on court filings as representing the university in the lawsuit did not immediately return phone messages Friday seeking comment.

A UI spokeswoman, Anne Bassett, said in an email Friday afternoon that the university “respects the decision of the court and will move forward in accordance with the decision.”



Keep in touch with Julie and get updates in your inbox!

Don’t worry we won’t spam you.

More to explore

2 thoughts on “Court Rules Against University That Pushed Out Christian Clubs”

  1. Other universities also cracked down on Christian groups, following the University of Iowa’s example. So this is very good news!

  2. As a lawyer of a quarter of a century and a law academic, it’s nice to see a court of appeals actually apply the First Amendment. That Amendment has taken such a beating in the law year or so, glad to see at least one federal circuit hasn’t completely jettisoned it to be trendy.

The Roys Report seeks to foster thoughtful and respectful dialogue. Toward that end, the site requires that people use their full name when commenting. Also, any comments with profanity, name-calling, and/or a nasty tone will be deleted.

Leave a Reply

The Roys Report seeks to foster thoughtful and respectful dialogue. Toward that end, the site requires that people register before they begin commenting. This means no anonymous comments will be allowed. Also, any comments with profanity, name-calling, and/or a nasty tone will be deleted.
MOST popular articles


Hi. We see this is the third article this month you’ve found worth reading. Great! Would you consider making a tax-deductible donation to help our journalists continue to report the truth and restore the church?

Your tax-deductible gift helps our journalists report the truth and hold Christian leaders and organizations accountable. This month we’re offering a beautiful “The Roys Report” branded mug to anyone who gives a gift of $25/mo or more.