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Satanic Temple Asks Boston To Fly Its Flag After Supreme Court Ruling for Christian Flag

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The Satanic Temple (TST) is requesting to fly a flag over Boston City Hall after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that the city violated the free speech rights of a conservative activist seeking to fly a Christian flag on a pole outside the downtown building.

Based in Salem, Massachusetts, TST tweeted a request filed Tuesday with the city property management department to raise a flag marking "Satanic Appreciation Week" from July 23-29.

As CBN News reported, the high court ruled unanimously Monday that Boston discriminated against local resident Hal Shurtleff because of his "religious viewpoint," even though it had routinely approved other flag-raising requests. 

Shurtleff's civic organization, Camp Constitution, petitioned to raise a Christian flag, a white banner with a red cross on a blue background, on the pole to mark Constitution Day in 2017.

There are three flagpoles outside of Boston City Hall. One flies the U.S. flag, another, the flag of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the third flagpole is intended to celebrate other countries, cultures, and causes.  

Over a 12-year period, Boston received nearly 300 applications to fly various flags on the third flagpole. They approved all of them, except Shurtleff's. The city maintained that despite policies, the private flags when flown on that pole, are actually government speech.

The justices acknowledged that rejecting the flag because it was referred to as a Christian flag on the application was discriminatory and there is no Establishment Clause defense. 

Mayor Michelle Wu's office declined to comment on the group's request other than to say it's reviewing the high court's decision while also evaluating its flag-raising program.

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Lucien Greaves, the TST's co-founder, said in an email to the Associated Press that the group wants to show that religious liberty must mean respect for "all forms" of religious practice and religious opinion.

"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," he wrote in part.

The TST hasn't decided which of its official flags it will ask the city to fly, Greaves said. But one likely option echoes the American flag, only with black and white stripes and an emblem of a pentagram and goat skull where the 50 stars would be.

The Satanic Temple is separate from the Church of Satan, which was founded in the 1960s. 

Founded in 2013, TST says it doesn't believe in Satan but describes itself as a "non-theistic religious organization" that advocates for secularism. On its website, under the question "Do You Worship Satan?" in the Frequently Asked Questions section, TST answers: "No, nor do we believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural." 

It has lodged freedom of religion challenges nationwide, including a federal lawsuit arguing the Boston City Council's traditional opening prayer at its public meetings is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

TST claims it has a Boston area membership of 2,449 people.

As CBN News reported late last month, a federal judge said TST had acted in "bad faith" by using questionable tactics, accusing the group of merely trying to gain publicity for its legal fight.

Despite the judge's rebuke, the Satanists' legal battle will proceed in the courts. In Boston, city council members are allowed to invite any religious leader of their choosing to offer an opening prayer. The city contends that it is perfectly legal for council members to select specific individuals to pray, and last year U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs agreed with the city on that issue.

The group also recently sued an elementary school in Pennsylvania after the school board voted not to allow an After School Satan Club. 

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