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Boston Officials Refuse to Raise "Christian Flag"

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

The constitutional freedom of religious is the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights.

-Thomas Jefferson

Does a private citizen have the First Amendment right to hang a religiously-affiliated flag on a public flagpole? The United States Supreme Court will hear a case to determine as much, after Camp Constitution was denied the right to hang their flag, which bears a cross, on Constitution Day.

The city of Boston created a public forum at Boston Hall Plaza that permits private speakers to raise flags on one of their poles following an application process. Their goal in allowing different flags to be flown from various owners is to “commemorate flags from many countries and communities” and to “create an environment in the city where everyone feels welcome.”

Prior to Camp Constitution, there were 284 previous applicants, all of whom were approved to fly their flags. Examples of flags that were previously flown include the Turkish flag and the Portuguese flag, both of which use religious imagery.

Referring to their flag as a “Christian flag” on the application, Camp Constitution was denied the opportunity to temporarily raise their flag by the city of Boston. The application would have granted them the privilege to fly their flag for about an hour on Sept. 17 as part of a ceremony to celebrate the Constitution’s Christian founders.

Boston officials, who never saw the flag prior to issuing their denial, argued that there would have been no issue flying the flag had the group not referenced Christianity on their application. One city official testified in early hearings that he had never heard of a “Christian flag” and wouldn’t have censored it had it not been described that way. They also argued that they did not violate the First Amendment because the flags represent government speech and the city’s argument that the Establishment Clause justified the censorship was accepted by previous courts.

Boston officials quite possibly violated Camp Constitution’s right to free speech because they have never rejected an application on religious grounds prior to the current case before the Supreme Court. Boston officials can argue that flags raised represent government sponsored speech, but they had a 100% approval rating prior to Camp Constitution’s request. Over the course of 12 years, the only flag that has ever been denied by the city of Boston is the one that was described as a “Christian flag” on its application.

Regardless if Boston officials deliberately censored a Christian conservative organization, people will perceive their actions as another attempt to silence their views. Conservatives have been arguing tirelessly that their ideology is under attack by censors while liberals deny any such attempts. However, it’s hard to deny that Camp Constitution may have been targeted for their views, as they are the only organization to ever have their flag denied by the city.

Freedom of speech goes both ways. If the government is going to permit the flying of “Pride” and “Transgender” flags, viewpoints that aren’t unanimously endorsed by the public, then they should grant opposing ideas the opportunity to be represented in the public forum. Or, city officials should stop flying private flags altogether and not risk endorsing any ideology.

According to the details provided, I would argue that the Supreme Court should rule in favor of Camp Constitution. There does appear to be an attack on right-wing views, and Boston’s actions seem to be running parallel with the national narrative. Camp Constitution wasn’t applying to raise a flag that promotes violence or endorses terrorism, they just wanted to pay respects to our country’s Christian founders. If Boston can raise flags that represent communist China and Cuba, they shouldn’t have an issue with raising a flag that bears a Latin cross.

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