Religious Purge on University of Iowa’s Campus Halted for Now

IOWA CITY, IOWA - August 13, 2017: The old state capitol building, now part of the University of Iowa. In addition to the university, the city is also a UNESCO-designated City of Literature.

By Gillian Richards Published on August 14, 2018

On August 13 the University of Iowa reinstated InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship and other deregistered religious groups while Becket’s litigation against the university takes place.

David Blomberg, Senior Counsel of Becket, announced on Twitter that the religious purge on campus has temporarily been halted.

InterVarsity is a Christian group that has served graduate students at the University of Iowa for 25 years. The university suddenly threatened to deregister the group in an email sent on June 1. According to university officials, InterVarsity’s rule that group leaders share its Christian mission doesn’t comply with the school’s non-discrimination policies.

The group responded that it could not survive if it were prevented from selecting leaders who believe its Christian mission. The university maintained the group cannot even “encourage” this. Soon after this correspondence, the university deregistered InterVarsity. It also deregistered 38 other student groups on campus, most of which were religiously affiliated.

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InterVarsity, represented by Becket, filed a lawsuit on August 6 against the university.

Becket maintains that the school is engaging in religious discrimination. After all, it did not force fraternities and sororities, sports clubs, and political groups to change their requirements for leaders to share the group’s mission.

The University of Iowa is a public university. Thus, Becket argues, it has no right to interfere with the inner workings of religious groups.

The university has relented for now, allowing InterVarsity and the other groups to be reinstated during the litigation process.

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