A flag program in Boston allows various banners to be raised on the City Hall Plaza flagpole in recognition of various nation’s and causes.
Flags that have been allowed have recognized the transgender agenda, Juneteenth, Brazil, Ethiopia, Italy, Albania, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Mexico, and the communist nations of Cuba and China.
But for the first time, a flag request has been rejected, and it’s because it is the Christian flag.
The denial is a clear example of viewpoint discrimination, according to Liberty Counsel, which is re-submitting the request.
The religious-rights organization says it has sent a demand letter to Boston officials asking them to discontinue their discrimination against people of faith.
The request was made on behalf of Camp Constitution, which wanted to celebrate the contributions of Christianity to American freedom and the rule of law.
“In addition to the flag raising on the steps of Boston City Hall Plaza, the event will include short presentations by clergy members from diverse national and ethnic backgrounds, and a brief history of Boston as ‘the city set on a hill,’” the legal team explained.
But the request, submitted repeatedly and most recently by Camp Constitution’s Hal Shurtleff, was rejected.
“I am writing to you in response to your inquiry as to the reason for denying your request to raise the ‘Christian Flag.’ The city of Boston maintains a policy and practice of respectfully refraining from flying non-secular flags on the City Hall flagpoles. … According to the above policy and practice, the city of Boston has respectfully denied the request of Camp Constitution to fly on a City Hall flagpole the “Christian” flag, as it is identified in the request, which displays a red Latin cross against a blue square bordered on three sides by a white field. … The city would be willing to consider a request to fly a non-religious flag, should your organization elect to offer one,” the city said.
Liberty Counsel responded: “This denial is unconstitutional. The city’s past and current practice (and permit application) provides that City Hall Plaza flagpoles are available for privately selected flags to be flown upon request of virtually any private association or activity.”
The organization continued: “Numerous private organizations have raised flags related to their respective events. These events have included ethnic and other ‘cultural celebrations,’ corresponding with the raising of the flags of various countries or causes, and announcements of the same on the CityHallPlazaBoston.com website.”
Explained Mat Staver, the chairman of Liberty Counsel: “Government officials cannot just cry ‘Establishment of Religion’ whenever Christians seek access to a public forum. The Free Exercise and the Free Speech Clauses also protect religious expression. There is a crucial difference between government endorsement of religion and private speech, which government is bound to respect. Private religious speech in a public forum where secular viewpoints are permitted does not violate the Constitution. Censoring religious viewpoints does violate the First Amendment. Where the city of Boston allows any other flag by numerous other private organizations, it may not ban the Christian flag as part of a privately-sponsored event.”
The demand letter to the city, dated Thursday, was addressed to Mayor Martin Walsh. It explained the city’s invitation to submit a “non-religious” flag was declined.
Staver cited the wide range of flags that have been allowed, from the “‘transgender’ pink and blue” to one for the “National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.”
“Government must treat private religious messages on equal terms and conditions with private non-religion messages,” the letter said. “Whatever the ultimate extent of a forum, government must treat all persons and groups seeking to use the forum equally, regardless of their viewpoint.”
The letter continued: “Here, the city has opened a ‘forum’ – flagpoles in front of City Hall Plaza – and the opportunity to fly privately selected flags on them pursuant to a permit scheme. Where this is true, the government cannot then prohibit flags it deems ‘religious’ in nature.”