Christian flag should be allowed at city hall, law group argues
A conservative law firm argued in federal court that a Christian nonprofit should be allowed to fly the Christian flag at Boston, Massachusetts’ city hall.
The Liberty Counsel presented oral arguments in the case on Wednesday, arguing that local resident Hal Shurtleff and his group Camp Constitution should be able to fly the Christian flag at the city hall, just like other civic organizations are allowed to.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Liberty Counsel said, “The undisputed facts reveal that Boston has allowed more than 300 flag raisings by private organizations on the City Hall flagpoles, including the Turkish flag (which depicts the Islamic star and crescent) and the Portuguese flag (which uses religious imagery).”
“City officials have also never denied the ‘messages’ communicated by the ‘Chinese Progressive Association,’ the LGBT rainbow flag of Boston Pride, and a ‘transgender’ pink and blue flag. The flags from other countries such as Albania, Brazil, Ethiopia, Italy, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, as well as of Communist China and Cuba have all been approved to fly on the city’s flagpoles.”
At issue in the lawsuit was a denied request by Camp Constitution to fly the flag during a Constitution Day and Citizenship Day event in 2017.
Camp Constitution sued the City of Boston over the rejection, in the hopes of being allowed to fly the flag at the City Hall Plaza for future events.
In late August 2018, however, U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper ruled against the Christian group, concluding that Boston had not “unlawfully restricted Plaintiffs' ability to speak publicly.”
“The City has only denied Plaintiffs permission to compel the City to endorse a particular religion by raising the Christian flag,” ruled Judge Casper.
“Given the range of options available to Plaintiffs for their event on City-owned property, the Court concludes Plaintiffs are unlikely to suffer irreparable harm without an injunction.”
Casper also wrote that the flags that had been approved to fly at city hall all passed the "Lemon test" since their "primary effort is not to advance or inhibit religion."
"The names of the flags alone are enough to reveal their primary purposes," continued the judge. "The Christian flag primarily represents a specific religion, while the other cited flags represent a sovereign nation, a city government and a group committed to remembering a military victory."