The winner in this case sums it up about as well as anyone could: You can’t target religious groups for being religious.
But the secular left is trying pretty hard to pretend it’s not doing that, and it’s using homosexuals as their props in the effort. The decision of Judge Rose to side with the Christian student group is one of the most important in recent years because it draws a line in the battle between biblical truth and the cultural assault on so-called “discrimination.”
Business Leaders in Christ did not attempt to ban homosexuals from being members of their student group at the University of Iowa, just as no Bible-faithful Christian church would tell a homosexual he or she couldn’t attend services. Of course you want them there. That’s where they have the best opportunity to be convicted by the Word and surrender to Christ.
And we want that because we want them redeemed just as we are.
But leadership in the group is a different matter. To be a leader of a Christian group, you obviously have to demonstrate an already established commitment to to Gospel. It’s no different than a church body saying to a practicing homosexual: Of course you’re welcome here, but you can’t be the pastor in the state you’re in.
For this, the University of Iowa came down on the group, rejecting its status as a legitimate student organization and as such denying it access to all kinds of resources – such as meeting rooms and channels for making announcements – that other student groups enjoy.
The university’s position was that every student group had to give homosexuals the right to serve in any position in the group, regardless of whether they supported the full mission of the group. To that, Judge Rose said no:
U.S. District Judge Stephanie M. Rose on Wednesday granted a permanent injunction banning the university from rejecting the status of the group, Business Leaders in Christ, The Des Moines Register reported.
Rose found that the university had unevenly applied its human rights policy by allowing other groups to limit membership based on religious views, race, sex and other protected characteristics.
“Particularly when free speech is involved, the uneven application of any policy risks the most exacting standard of judicial scrutiny, which the defendants have failed to withstand,” she said.
Business Leaders in Christ member Jake Estell said the group is happy with the outcome.
“This victory reinforces the commonsense idea that universities can’t target religious groups for being religious,” he said.
This is an important ruling precisely because the secular left is trying to use homosexuality as the pretext to invalidate the entire Gospel. If the believing the Gospel requires you to oppose homosexuality (and it does), then the actual practice of Christianity is by definition discriminatory, and public institutions are duty-bound to sanction it whenever and wherever possible.
This is the same reason Karen Pence is being attacked for teaching art classes at a Christian school. The media are emphasizing that the school requires teachers to oppose gay marriage. But what the school really requires is that you affirm the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of which all teachings on sexual morality are a part.
This is the reason Jack Phillips is being harassed by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It’s not enough for them that he takes no action against homosexuals. They want him to actively take part in the celebration of their sin by baking them a cake, and when he refuses because of his commitment to the Gospel, they come after him legally.
Had the university’s action against the student group been allowed to stand, it would have been one more instance of a public institution marginalizing Christianity on the premise that it’s “discriminatory,” and using homosexuals as the pawns in this fight.
Kudos to Judge Rose for upholding the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion, and a tepid half-cheer to the University of Iowa for agreeing to abide by the ruling and not appealing the case. But they should never have gone after the students in the first place. Maybe now they’ve learned their lesson.