The University of Iowa (UI) is going to pay nearly $2 million in legal fees to Christian groups after being banned from campus over their marriage views, local outlet The Gazette reported.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, based in Washington, D.C., represented the two Christian groups and is set to receive $1.93 million from the State Appeal Board following an approval vote, the Gazette reported. The two suits were filed by Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) in 2017 and the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in 2018.
Becket’s third annual Religious Freedom Index shows broad and revitalized support for religious liberty, with its score reaching a new high of 68.
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BLinC filed a lawsuit against UI on religious freedom grounds after it was penalized for denying an openly gay student a leadership role who refused to ascribe to Christian marriage tenants, the Gazette reported. The suit pointed out that other faith-based groups on the UI campus were able to discriminate between potential-members on the basis of ideology, faith and gender.
The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship filed a second suit as a companion to the first against the UI, according to Becket Law, after the UI deregistered the organization as well as 38 other groups, such as the Sikh Awareness Club and Chinese Student Christian Fellowship. The group was temporarily banned from the UI campus, along with other religious groups, though the ban was rescinded after the suit was filed. (RELATED: University Of Texas Students File Lawsuit Claiming Alma Mater Song Is ‘Racially Offensive’)
Becket will receive $1.4 million for representing BLinC, according to the Gazette. The firm is also slated to garner an additional $553, 508 for representing InterVarsity, with the UI directly paying the fellowship $20,000 in damages.
“When university officials target students of faith, it comes at a price.” Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The blatant discrimination against religious students at the University of Iowa was entirely preventable.”
“The University of Iowa had several off-ramps early in the case, including direct warnings from the court to stop the religious targeting. Instead, it doubled down with its attacks against Protestant groups by adding Sikhs, Muslims, Latter-day Saints, and others to their target list,” he added. “Now, the University has paid the price, and other universities should think twice before treating religious student groups like second-class citizens.”