Thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, the Christian flag flew above Boston’s City Hall briefly on Wednesday as supporters stood in celebration, singing songs of praise.
Harold Shurtleff — whose organization, Camp Constitution, was involved in the case — spoke at the flag-raising ceremony, celebrating the decision as a win for the First Amendment and thanked God for his hand in the decision.
“I do want to give the glory to God because God’s hand was in this from the very beginning,” the conservative activist said.
“We have a great Constitution and a wonderful First Amendment, but just like when it comes to muscle, if you don’t use it, then you get weak. When I got the rejection email from the city and it said ‘separation of church and state,’ I knew we had a case,” he added.
Our legal team flanks Hal Shurtleff after the Christian flag was raised at Boston City Hall Plaza yesterday morning. Following the SCOTUS ruling on May 2, the flag-raising symbolizes freedom from viewpoint discrimination in Boston and nationwide.https://t.co/BuEFuZsHav pic.twitter.com/fmDCoMoYct
— Liberty Counsel (@libertycounsel) August 4, 2022
While Shurtleff and other supporters celebrated the moment, the city of Boston began work on crafting a new policy that could soon give the local government more power over the decision as to which flags are approved to fly at City Hall.
According to a Tuesday report from The Boston Herald, the city expects to propose a change to its flag policies following the Christian groups’ victory in the Supreme Court case.
CBS News Boston reported that the city’s proposal would make it so that any group that wants to fly a flag on City Hall Plaza will “now need either a proclamation from the mayor or a resolution from the council.”
The city’s actions come despite the Supreme Court’s 9-0 decision in May which ruled in favor of allowing the Christian flag to fly over Boston’s City Hall.
The case centered around a 2017 incident in which the city denied the Camp Constitution’s request to fly the Christian flag outside Boston City Hall, despite the fact that Boston had a custom of allowing groups to use one of the city’s three flag poles to fly an event, organization or movement-specific flag for special occasions.
Approximately 50 different flags had been flown by the city between 2005 to 2017 for nearly 300 activities and celebrations. Flags that Boston had previously approved to be flown above City Hall included those from communist China and Cuba, and an LGBT-related pride flag.
“We conclude that, on balance, 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,’” Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the court’s opinion.
Following the high court’s ruling, an official request was made public on Twitter by the Satanic Temple to fly their flag as part of “Satanic Appreciation Week” in May.
“Religious Liberty is a bedrock principle in a democracy, and Religious Liberty is dependent upon government viewpoint neutrality,” Lucien Greaves, co-founder of The Satanic Temple, said in the statement.
“When public officials are allowed to preference certain religious viewpoints over others, we do not have Religious Liberty, we have theocracy,” he added.