Judge: Boston City Hall Can Refuse to Fly Christian Flag despite Flying Other Religious, Cultural Flags
The city of Boston does not have to raise a Christian flag at City Hall Plaza, a federal judge ruled this week.
According to the Christian Post, the decision comes even after the City Hall Plaza has raised flags for other groups, including an LGBT support flag.
In 2018, Harold Shurtleff sued the city after the city government refused his 2017 request to fly a Christian flag outside City Hall.
Shurtleff heads Camp Constitution, an organization that intends to “enhance understanding of our Judeo-Christian moral heritage.” The organization has previously hosted Constitution Day and Citizenship Day events at City Hall.
Shurtleff had requested that the city fly a Christian flag on Constitution Day on Sept. 17, 2017. The city denied the request under its policy that the city has the discretion to decide which flags may be flown outside City Hall.
Liberty Counsel, the group representing Shurtleff, says the city has never rejected any flag from flying until Shurtleff’s 2017 request.
Court documents show that the city of Boston raised nearly 300 flags between 2005 and 2017 from different organizations.
U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper issued an order, saying the “display of flags outside City Hall is government speech.”
“The [then-head of the property management department Gregory Rooney] had never considered a religious flag prior to the Plaintiffs’ application,” Casper said.
“There are no additional facts in the record that would suggest any improper preference for non-religion over religion or selective treatment of any person or group based on religion. The City did not alter its procedures for review of flag applications because of Camp Constitution’s request, instead, Camp Constitution’s request presented a novel issue for the City’s consideration, which the City considered consistent with its practice and policy.”
Liberty Counsel has appealed Casper’s decision.
“The city of Boston’s open censorship continues against Camp Constitution’s Christian viewpoint,” Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver said in a statement. “There is a crucial difference between government endorsement of religion and private speech, which government is bound to respect. Censoring religious viewpoints in a public forum where secular viewpoints are permitted is unconstitutional.”
Photo courtesy: Phil Thep/Unsplash
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.