Guest opinion: We are missing the point about the BLinC v. U of I


Joseph Cress

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.

Discourse surrounding religious freedom and the university misses the mark.

Business Leaders in Christ v. the University of Iowa is being framed as a pushback against anti-Christian religious persecution at the university. An NBC news headline says the lawsuit pits “gay rights against religious freedom.” On the website of Becket, the nonprofit law group that took the group’s case, the summary of the case states, “University officials claimed that because [Business Leaders in Christ] requires its leaders to sign a Statement of Faith … it is violating the school’s antidiscrimination policy.” The group is intentionally misleading the public, reframing this issue to make the Christian group look like victims of persecution, and people are buying it.

RELATED: In Their Own Words: What are your thoughts on a lawsuit between the UI and a Christian student group?

This intentional reframing is creating a false equivalence. The group bases its complaint on the notion that the university is selectively enforcing rules, stating the “student group Imam Mahdi, for example, reserves leadership posts for Shia Muslims.” But the Christian group wasn’t reprimanded for having a faith requirement, it was reprimanded because the faith requirement was being used to discriminate against an LGBT member, and that discrimination is what sets it apart from the other religious entities the Christian group compares itself to.

RELATED: UI expels Christian student club over leadership requirement

According to the suit, Hannah Thompson, the then-president of the group, said, “[The member] would not be eligible for a leadership position because his decision to enter into same-sex relationships was inconsistent with Business Leaders in Christ’s religious beliefs.” This exposes the false equivalency; the group was not reprimanded for demanding leadership positions be filled by Christians. In fact, it banned a Christian from leadership positions because he was gay. 

RELATED: Finding a home in faith

The idea that same-sex relationships are “sexually immoral,” according to the language used in its mission statement, is the issue: Business Leaders in Christ’s mission statement discriminates against LGBT people, of the Christian faith or otherwise. It’s that discrimination the group was reprimanded for, and the university rightfully enforced its Human Rights Policy, which the group broke.

— Riley Wilson


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