Christian Flag Flies Over Boston City Plaza Following Supreme Court First Amendment Ruling
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ABOVE: Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, appeared on the Tuesday edition of CBN News' Faith Nation to talk more about overcoming the court challenges to raise a Christian flag in Boston. Faith Nation is seen weekdays on the CBN News Channel.
The Christian flag that became the focus of a free speech legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court was raised — briefly — outside Boston City Hall on Wednesday to cheers and songs of praise.
The flag-raising took place about three months after the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision ruled the city discriminated against Harold Shurtleff and his Camp Constitution group because of his “religious viewpoint” when it refused permission for him to fly the banner on City Hall Plaza on Constitution Day 2017.
“We’re so pleased for this day,” Shurtleff, a Boston native, said at a ceremony to raise the white flag, which has a red cross on a blue background in the upper left corner.
“We have a great Constitution, and we have a wonderful First Amendment, but just like when it comes to muscles, if you don’t use it, they get weak,” he said. “When I got the rejection email from the city, and it said separation of church and state, I knew we had a case.”
On May 2, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that the City of Boston violated the First Amendment by censoring an organization that applied to have a Christian flag flown as one of three flags displayed outside of City Hall.
CBN News previously reported that one flagpole flies the U.S. flag, another, the flag of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the third flagpole is to celebrate other countries, cultures, and causes.
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While the City of Boston argued there were clear parameters over the flags it considers acceptable, ultimately, the justices expressed that it seemed officials were operating off the belief that it would be unconstitutional to allow one of those to be religious.
Over a 12-year period, the city received nearly 300 applications for that third flagpole. They approved all of them, except one.
"These include flags of individuals, say for example, Metro Credit Union, gay pride, Boston Pride, other causes, in addition to that, they also had individuals who would raise flags of their countries," said Mat Staver, founder, and chairman of Liberty Counsel.
Boston suspended its flagpole program in 2021 pending a ruling from the high court.
The justices acknowledged rejecting the flag because it was referred to as a Christian flag on the application was discriminatory and there is no Establishment Clause defense.
Referring to its decision, the high court wrote that "Boston did not make the raising and flying of private groups' flags a form of government speech. 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.'"
5 years.— Liberty Counsel (@libertycounsel) August 1, 2022
4 defeats in lower courts.
1 UNANIMOUS Supreme Court win.
Now, on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022 at 11 a.m. EST, the Christian flag will FINALLY fly on the Boston City Hall Plaza forum flagpole.
If you're in Boston, come join the celebration! https://t.co/KVCsxRf7nO
Shurtleff and Staver were present on Wednesday for the ceremonial flag raising.
The Christian Flag is raised at City Hall Plaza Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Boston. Massachusetts. (Stuart Cahill/The Boston Herald via AP)
Additional speakers included: Rev. Steve Craft (Camp Constitution and Christian Citizenship Ministries), Pastor William Levi (Operation Nehemiah Missions), Pastor Earl Wallace (Liberty Christian Fellowship), Historian Richard Howell, and Jonathan Alexandre (Liberty Counsel).
The Christian Flag flies at City Hall Plaza Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Boston. Massachusetts. (Stuart Cahill/The Boston Herald via AP)
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