FFRF laments Christian flag flying at Boston City Hall, even once lauryn@ffrf.org (Lauryn Seering) News Release Archives – Freedom From Religion Foundation – Freedom From Religion Foundation

Read More News Release Archives – Freedom From Religion Foundation – Freedom From Religion Foundation While pronouncing as chilling the symbolism of a Christian flag flying with the flags of the United States and state of Massachusetts over Boston City Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 3, the Freedom From Religion Foundation hopes it will be only once.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on May 2 that the city of Boston had engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination under the First Amendment’s free speech clause when it refused to fly the Christian flag. Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the majority decision, noted that there is nothing to prevent the city from changing its policy to close the flagpole as a public forum.
Under a consent judgment, even though the city had closed the flagpole forum during litigation, it apparently allowed the plaintiffs to conduct what FFRF believes is a one-time flag-raising event. FFRF is watching the situation closely and will apply to fly its own freethinking flag if Boston misguidedly resumes the forum.
FFRF notes that the same kind of flag, with a giant red cross on it, was paraded at the Jan 6, 2021, insurrection along with other symbols of Christian nationalism. Once an obscure and rare symbol, the Christian flag has been increasingly forced upon the American landscape. According to Christianity Today, the flag parallels the red, white and blue of the U.S. flag, with white representing purity and peace, blue fidelity and red “for Christ’s blood sacrifice.” There are even pledges to the Christian flag.
Boston City Hall has three 83-foot-tall flagpoles standing prominently in front of the entrance: one that flies the U.S. flag, one that flies the Massachusetts flag and a third flagpole flying the city flag. Occasionally, the city approves replacing the city flag with another flag, usually representing another country or an officially recognized event, for limited periods of time. Over 90 percent of such flag raisings were of national flags, and city employees are present for each flag-raising.
FFRF submitted an amicus brief asserting that the flagpole should “properly be considered a nonpublic forum, if it is a forum at all.” Liberty Counsel, a Christian nationalist legal outfit which now masquerades as a church so it can avoid 501(c)(3) disclosure laws, represented the plaintiffs, Hal Shurtleff and Camp Constitution. The group was apparently motivated to fly the Christian flag in response to an LGBTQ flag flown by the city during Pride Month.
The Liberty Counsel indicates the flag-raising ceremony will include Mat Staver, Liberty Counselor founder, and a variety of pastors such as William Levi from Operation Nehemiah Missions and Earl Wallace from Liberty Christian Fellowship.
FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor calls it “more than distressing to see the Christian flag juxtaposed with the nation’s and state’s flags.” She asks: “How can any nonbeliever, Jew, Muslim or other non-Christian possibly feel included or comfortable at Boston City Hall on Wednesday with a Christian nationalist flag at the helm?”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 37,000 members across the country, including roughly 800 members in Massachusetts. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.