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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Is There a Way Out of Israel’s Political Deadlock?

On Tuesday, leaders of the Jewish state’s largest political parties, Blue and White and Likud, met to negotiate the terms of a coalition agreement—and failed to come to an agreement. If none of the parties in the Knesset succeeds in forming a governing coalition, there will be a third election, with no guarantee that it will be more conclusive than those that preceded it. Identifying six moves by key politicians that have created the deadlock, Shmuel Rosner speculates as to whether they can be circumvented or undone:

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli politics