In Boston, a 59-year-old man has challenged the city’s refusal to fly a Christian flag over city hall recognizing Christianity’s historical contributions to not only Boston but the state of Massachusetts, the Boston Globe reports.
Director of Camp Constitution, a public charitable trust, Harold Shurtleff said his organization was denied a permit to raise a Christian flag last year, in connection with an event on one of City Hall’s flag poles.
According to Life Site News, Camp Constitution is a charitable trust that promotes “understanding of our Judeo-Christian moral heritage, our American heritage of courage and ingenuity, including the genius of our United States Constitution, and the application of free enterprise” through a variety of activities, events and discussions.
The flag Shurtleff wanted to fly has a red cross on a blue background, with white on three sides. Shurtleff said he wanted it at city hall to memorialize “the civic and social contributions of the Christian community to the City, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, religious tolerance, the Rule of Law, and the US Constitution.”
Boston denied him the permit stating that it “maintains a policy and practice of respectfully refraining from flying non-secular flags on City Hall flagpoles,” but that it would consider a request from Shurtleff to fly a flag that was non-religious instead.
“This policy and practice is consistent with well-established First Amendment jurisprudence prohibiting a local government ‘respecting an establishment of religion,’” Boston property management commissioner Gregory Rooney told Shurtleff in an email. “This policy and practice is also consistent with City’s legal authority to choose how a limited government resource, like the City Hall flagpoles, is used.”
The lawsuit by Shurtleff argues that Boston’s flag policy is “invidious and hostile, towards religion,” and treats religious and secular flags differently, going against the constitution. Shurtleff’s complaint also points out that Boston doesn’t apply restrictions such as these to their own government symbols, and notes the city’s official flag features the city seal, bearing a Latin inscription that means “God be with us as he was with our fathers.”
Boston was founded by English Puritans, whose religious values led to the creation of both Boston Latin School and Harvard alike. On top of this, the Massachusetts Constitution contains several references to God, including one that it’s the “right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe”; and also one that states that “the public worship of God and instructions in piety, religion and morality, promote the happiness and prosperity of a people and the security of a republican government.”
The group is represented by Roger Gannam, Liberty Counsel Assistant Vice President of Legal Affairs, who said “The city’s censoring of Camp Constitution’s Christian Flag is the ultimate insult to the First Amendment and Boston’s rich heritage as a focal point of liberty and free speech at America’s founding.” Gannam continued, “The city’s blatant discrimination against Camp Constitution’s Christian viewpoint is now a matter of record that the city can no longer deny. It should be clear to the court after today’s hearing that Boston’s unconstitutional censorship must be undone.”
In court, city attorneys argue in court documents that it has “at all times complied” with the First Amendment, and has not violated “any constitutional, statutory, or common law rights, privileges, or immunities of the Plaintiffs.”
— City of Boston (@CityOfBoston) June 1, 2018
So how is it that Boston officials have no issue raising flags that directly oppose religious principles? June 1 of this year, the City of Boston’s official Twitter account posted a video promoting the fact that it raised a rainbow flag for LGBT “pride” on City Hall Plaza.
City of Boston Mayor, Marty Walsh tweets how proud he is to have the transgender flag flying over Boston City Hall for “the 1st time in MA history – a sign that everyone is welcome,” on May 2, 2016:
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) May 2, 2016
The hopes of Camp Constitution is to have a resolution in the case before September 17th, so it will have the ability to fly the flag for a Constitution Day event the group wants to hold at City Hall.
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