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Satanic Temple pushes Boston to fly its flag after Supreme Court ruling in favor of Christian group

Boston City Hall
Boston City Hall in Boston, Massachusetts. |

Days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Boston, Massachusetts, was wrong to prohibit a group from flying a Christian flag at city hall, The Satanic Temple wants to fly a flag over the downtown building.

The Salem-based group wrote on Twitter that it has filed a request with Boston’s property management department to raise and lower a flag to observe “Satanic Appreciation Week” from July 23–29.

“The Satanic Temple replies to the Supreme Court ruling that found Boston violated First Amendment rights by refusing to fly Christian flag at City Hall Plaza,” the organization wrote, with a screenshot of the request.

“When government officials are able to impose arbitrary restrictions on claims of conscience, or to abridge the civic capacities of some based on their religious identity, we fail to be a free, democratic republic,” Lucien Greaves, the organization’s co-founder, told The Associated Press in an email.

Greaves added that The Satanic Temple has yet to decide which of its official flags it will ask the city to fly.

One of its flags looks like the American flag with only black and white stripes and an emblem of a pentagram and goat skull where the 50 stars would be.

On Monday, the high court unanimously ruled in the case of Harold Shurtleff, et al. v. Boston, MA, et al., to reverse a lower court decision and remand the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the court’s opinion, concluding that “the First Amendment prevents [the government] from discriminating against speakers based on their viewpoint.”

At issue, according to the court's opinion, was whether Boston’s flag policy represented government speech; if it did, then it had the right to reject the Christian flag.

“We conclude that, on balance, Boston did not make the raising and flying of private groups’ flags a form of government speech,” wrote Breyer. “That means, in turn, that Boston’s refusal to let Shurtleff and Camp Constitution raise their flag based on its religious viewpoint ‘abridg[ed]’ their ‘freedom of speech.’”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh authored a concurring opinion, in which he wrote that “a government does not violate the Establishment Clause merely because it treats religious persons, organizations, and speech equally with secular persons, organizations, and speech in public programs, benefits, facilities, and the like.”

“Under the Constitution, a government may not treat religious persons, religious organizations, or religious speech as second-class,” he added in his brief concurrence.

In February, Christians gathered, prayed and read scriptures outside an Arizona hotel that hosted a three-day event by The Satanic Temple called “SatanCon,” which included such sessions as “Raising Children in a Satanic Household” and “Abortion as a (Religious) Right.”

The Catholic demonstrators prayed, read from the Bible, held signs, banners, rosaries, crosses and images of the Virgin Mary outside the Saguaro Hotel in Scottsdale, the site of the Satanic Temple’s event, Fox 10 reported at the time.

“We’re out here to let the satanists know that there’s no place for evil in Arizona,” a protester was quoted as saying. “And we’re here to combat that. And we’re here to say that Jesus is Lord.”

In 2016, The Satanic Temple launched a nationwide After School Satan Club to counter Christian student organizations in public schools.

The group’s creation came in response to the Christian Good News Club that was meeting at public schools throughout the nation.

Greaves told The Christian Post at the time that the Christian club’s presence at public schools “created the need for a counter-balance in the extracurricular options.”

Moises Esteves, vice president of USA Ministries for Child Evangelism Fellowship, told CP at the time that he believed the Satan club was “yet another atheist PR stunt” that “has no staying power.”

“The ‘After-School Satan Club’ is simply another attention-seeking atheist club. The choice of mascot reveals that its leaders simply hate God, and are trying to provoke or spook parents and schools,” said Esteves. “Like those before it, this club will fizzle out, because parents don't view their children as pawns for a ‘blend of political activism, religious critique and performance art’ by angry atheists.”

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