‘Government officials cannot single out a religious viewpoint for disfavored treatment…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) The city of Boston refused to let a conservative organization fly the Christian flag in front of city hall because of its policy against “non-secular flags.”
Boston City Hall flew the flags of multiple foreign countries, including those of dictatorships like China and Cuba, Liberty Counsel reported.
Homosexual and transgender groups also were allowed to fly their flags, too.
Liberty Counsel sued Boston on July 6 on behalf of Camp Constitution and Boston resident Hal Shurtleff, who heads the organization.
“Government officials cannot single out a religious viewpoint for disfavored treatment to a public forum that is open to non-religious viewpoints,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The First Amendment protects the religious expression of all, and it prohibits the open hostility to religious viewpoints.”
Shurtleff requested a permit on July 28, 2017 to fly the Christian flag in honor of Constitution Day, on Sept. 17.
He gave three potential dates to fly the flag, and they were all denied despite the city’s availability.
Gregory T. Rooney, Boston’s commissioner of property management, responded on Sept. 8 by denying Shurtleff’s request.
“The City of Boston maintains a policy and practice of respectfully refraining from flying non-secular flags on the City Hall flagpoles,” Rooney wrote. “The City would be willing to consider a request to fly a non-religious flag, should your organization elect to offer one.”
Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit on the grounds that the city’s policy allows for “virtually any private association or activity” to fly their flags upon request.
The lawsuit would also require Boston to fly Shurtleff’s flag around Constitution Day in 2018 to honor Christianity’s contributions to the city and promote Jesus Christ as a solution to race relations.
“The Massachusetts Constitution recognizes that ‘the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality,’ and the Boston City Flag—flying on the same flagpoles denied to Camp Constitution—includes the Latin inscription, ‘God be with us as he was with our fathers,’” Staver said. “The city’s censoring of religious viewpoints is not only unconstitutional, but also violates the historical and deeply held values of Boston, the Commonwealth, and the country.”