Religious freedom vs. gay rights at the center of Christian group's lawsuit against university

The lawsuit filed by a conservative Christian student group against the University of Iowa is also seen as a battle between freedom of religion and gay rights, according to a report.

(REUTERS / Koh Gui Qing)School mascot Herky the Hawk stands in front of the Old Capitol Museum at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, Iowa, U.S. May 22, 2016.

In December, the conservative Christian student group Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) filed a lawsuit against the University of Iowa after the latter evicted it from campus over its decision to bar gay student Marcus Miller from holding a leadership position. This case pits the right of a person to have his/her religious beliefs against the rights of the LGBT community, Fox News observed.

The university said BLinC had violated both the Iowa Civil Rights Act and its own Human Rights Policy. It added that the Christian group discriminated against the gay student based on sexual orientation.

BLinC, on the other hand, explained that though they were open to anybody, its leaders were required to affirm a statement of faith against homosexuality. The conservative Christian student group said this requirement falls well within their right to freedom of religion.

Eric Baxter of Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents BLinC in the case, asserted that every group had the right to choose leaders that "embrace its mission. As an example, he said an environmental group would never appoint a climate denier to a leadership position.

In a separate situation, another conservative student group called the Young Americans for Freedom claimed victory last month after the University of Virginia's decision to deny them official recognition was reversed. The Charlottesville university denied them recognition because of its policy where members of the group had to be political conservatives, The Christian Post reported.

Anthony de Bruyn, a spokesperson for the university, told Cavalier Daily that there were concerns that YAF had violated the school's nondiscrimination policy. The denial prompted the group to contact Alliance Defending Freedom, which sent a demand letter to the university that said the move violated both the First Amendment and the law in Virginia.

While YAF had already claimed victory in the case, the university said it would not make any decision on the matter until the Student Council meets again this January.