The University of Iowa to Christian Student Groups: Limiting Leadership Positions to Committed Christians is Disallowed

Nov. 28 2018

According to the bylaws of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a Christian campus organization, people of all faiths are welcome to join and participate in its events, but those in positions of leadership must be committed Christians. The University of Iowa, a public institution, has ruled that the fellowship’s chapter on its campus be disbanded—along with similar Muslim, Sikh, and Mormon groups—because such requirements violate university “human-rights policy.” Howard Slugh comments:

InterVarsity attempted to compromise [by replacing] the requirement that its leaders be practicing Christians with language indicating that it “strongly encouraged” leaders to share its faith. The school responded that even that language would violate the human-rights policy. The ministry was not allowed to indicate that it had any preference for leaders or members who shared its faith. That is not a fine-tuned requirement aimed at rooting out hidden discrimination; it is a blunt instrument that the university is wielding to bring the ministry to heel. . . . The state is forcing the ministry to choose between the integrity of its faith and its ability to function efficiently.

Combating discrimination is noble, but the University of Iowa has taken its pursuit of that cause to an absurd degree. When a Christian group sued the university, claiming, in part, that other groups were allowed to violate the human-rights policy, the school responded by deregistering 38 groups that limit their membership or leaders to those who meet cultural or ideological qualifications. To judge from the list of deregistered groups, the school simply could not abide a Chinese dance society whose members were Chinese dancers, a German club made up of German students, or a Malaysian student society populated by Malaysians. The fact that this policy has descended into farce makes it no less dangerous to religious groups. . . .

Jews should stand in solidarity with Christians in reaffirming the foundational American principle that the government has no role in dictating who may serve as a religious leader. . . . If left unchecked, the action by the University of Iowa would establish a dangerous precedent. The constitutionally protected right of religious minorities to select their own leaders is a buffer that protects them from meddling by their neighbors and the government. Their neighbors cannot join a religious organization en masse and vote for leaders who do not share its religious purpose. . . . Jews and members of other minority religions have an interest in speaking out against the university’s policy.

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More about: Freedom of Religion, Religion & Holidays, University

“Ending the War in Yemen” Would Lead to More Bloodshed and Threaten Global Trade

Dec. 13 2018

A bipartisan movement is afloat in Congress to end American support for the Saudi-led coalition currently fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. With frustration at Riyadh over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, reports of impending famine and a cholera outbreak in Yemen, and mounting casualties, Congress could go so far as to cut all funding for U.S. involvement in the war. But to do so would be a grave mistake, argues Mohammed Khalid Alyahya:

Unfortunately, calls to “stop the Yemen war,” though morally satisfying, are fundamentally misguided. . . . A precipitous disengagement by the Saudi-led coalition . . . would have calamitous consequences for Yemen, the Middle East, and the world at large. The urgency to end the war reduces that conflict, and its drivers, to a morality play, with the coalition of Arab states cast as the bloodthirsty villain killing and starving Yemeni civilians. The assumption seems to be that if the coalition’s military operations are brought to a halt, all will be well in Yemen. . . .

[But] if the Saudi-led coalition were to cease operations, Iran’s long arm, the Houthis, would march on areas [previously controlled by the Yemeni government] and exact a bloody toll on the populations of such cities as Aden and Marib with the same ruthlessness with which they [treated] Sanaa and Taiz during the past three years. The rebels have ruled Sanaa, kidnapping, executing, disappearing, systematically torturing, and assassinating detractors. In Taiz, they fire mortars indiscriminately at the civilian population and snipers shoot at children to force residents into submission.

[Moreover], an abrupt termination of the war would leave Iran in control of Yemen [and] deal a serious blow to the global economy. Iran would have the ability to obstruct trade and oil flows from both the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandeb strait. . . . About 24 percent of the world’s petroleum and petroleum products passes through these two waterways, and Iran already has the capability to disrupt oil flows from Hormuz and threatened to do so this year. Should Iran acquire that capability in Bab el-Mandeb by establishing a foothold in the Gulf of Aden, even if it chose not to utilize this capability oil prices and insurance costs would surge.

Allowing Tehran to control two of the most strategic choke points for the global energy market is simply not an option for the international community. There is every reason to believe that Iran would launch attacks on maritime traffic. The Houthis have mounted multiple attacks on commercial and military vessels over the past several years, and Iran has supplied its Yemeni proxy with drone boats, conventional aerial drones, and ballistic missiles.

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More about: Iran, Oil, Politics & Current Affairs, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen