Two and a half centuries ago, the town of Boston and Massachusetts Colony were the epicenters of the American revolutionary movement. Dr. Joseph Warren, a noted Boston physician, ran a spy ring out of his office, feeding information to Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, and many other patriots who sought freedom from British rule. The colony hosted such notable events as the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party. After the battles of Lexington Green and Concord, the British retreated to Boston. Besieged there by local militia in the Siege of Boston, the British were forced to flee to New York after the battles of Chelsea Creek, Bunker Hill, Gloucester, and Dorchester Heights.
Given this illustrious history, it is scandalous and shameful that the City of Boston flagrantly denied Camp Constitution founder Hal Shurtleff’s First Amendment right to fly a “Christian Flag” as part of their Constitution Day ceremonies at City Hall Plaza.
The City of Boston allows private speakers to hold a public forum on the City Hall Plaza and temporarily raise a flag on one of the city’s flagpoles during the event. Over the past twelve years, 284 public speaking events with flag raisings have occurred. A permit was required primarily to maintain orderly scheduling so that each group had uninterrupted time on the plaza.
Since the program began, all 284 applications were approved, including flags with religious symbols such as the Turkish flag containing the Islamic star and crescent as well as flags celebrating communist nations and a variety of sexual preferences and political agendas.
When Hal Shurtleff of Camp Constitution requested a permit to raise a “Christian Flag” at a Constitution Day event in September 2017, however, the application was denied. In the subsequent court case, a city official testified under oath that the term “Christian Flag” on the application triggered the censorship. Camp Constitution’s lawsuit will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this year. Arguments are scheduled to begin this month.
The City of Boston’s website used to proclaim, “We commemorate flags from many countries and communities at Boston City Hall Plaza. We want to create an environment in the city where everyone feels included.” As a result of the lawsuit, the website now reads:
“Please note: Effective October 19, 2021, the City of Boston is no longer accepting flag-raising applications. We’re re-evaluating the program in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to consider whether the program as currently operated complies with Constitutional requirements.”
Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit ministry that operates a pro bono litigation program, is bringing this case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Its mission is to advance religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the family through strategic litigation. Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman said, “We look forward to the U.S. Supreme Court hearing Boston’s unconstitutional discrimination against Camp Constitution’s Christian viewpoint. The city cannot deny the Christian flag because it is ‘Christian’ and allow every other flag to fly on its flagpoles. There is a crucial difference between government endorsement of religion and private speech, which government is bound to respect. Censoring religious viewpoints in a public forum where secular viewpoints are permitted is unconstitutional and this case will set a national precedent.”
Trust in Freedom and Resist Tyranny!
Dr. Dan’s guest on Freedom Forum Radio this weekend is Hal Shurtleff, Co-Founder and Director of Camp Constitution. Shurtleff teaches the genius of our United States Constitution and the benefits of free-market economic principles, which together gave our nation an unprecedented history of growth and prosperity, making us the envy of the world.
Camp Constitution takes place for five days each summer at the Singing Hills Christian Camp in Plainfield, New Hampshire. The camp’s motto is “Honoring the Past, Teaching the Present, Preparing the Future.” This year’s camp dates are Sunday, July 17 to Friday, July 22.
Shurtleff is a U.S. Army Veteran who spent two years in West Germany and a year in the 101St Airbourne, and he is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Shurtleff hosts a weekly radio show that airs on WBCQ The Planet and has appeared as a guest on hundreds of radio shows. Hal is married with five homeschooled children and two grandchildren.
Don’t miss part one of this three-part interview beginning this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, January 8-9 on WJRB 95.1 FM and streamed live over the Internet.
Part Two – January 15 – 16
Part Three – January 22 – 23
All programs are available by podcast following airtime here.