The Supreme Court recently issued a unanimous ruling saying that the City of Boston discriminated against a Christian group by refusing to fly their flag at City Hall, despite having flown flags for other organizations. Celebrations of this victory for the freedom of religion may be a bit more muted this week, however. Sensing an opportunity to garner some headlines and stir the pot, the Satanic Temple has sent a request to Boston to fly their flag for one week in July. The Mayor’s office declined to comment on the request, saying only that they are currently reviewing the court’s decision and going over the City Hall flag guidelines. So will we wind up seeing an image of Lucifer flying over a government building in Beantown this summer? (Associated Press)
The Satanic Temple is requesting to fly a flag over Boston City Hall after the U.S. Supreme Court this week ruled the city violated the free speech rights of a conservative activist seeking to fly a Christian flag outside the downtown building.
The Salem-based group on Tuesday tweeted a copy of its request to raise a flag to mark Satanic Appreciation Week from July 23-29.
The application filed online with the city’s property management department doesn’t provide any details about what the flag would look like or what the weeklong celebration entails.
I clearly don’t get out of the house often enough because I was completely unaware that there is a “Satanic Appreciation Week” or that it takes place from July 23-29. I tried to find out what the flag would look like by visiting the shop on their website. (Yes, they have a shop. You can even buy t-shirts there.) They actually have a number of flags, with one of them being the stars and stripes, but in black and white, with the tradition starfield being replaced by a circle of stars surrounding a Baphomet symbol. I suppose if the flag doesn’t contain any pornographic images, they might be allowed to fly it.
If you browse their website you can learn all manner of amazing things about this organization. They are heavy supporters of abortion, as you might expect. and are very much opposed to the recent court decision impacting Roe v. Wade. They also run an education program for students called “After School Satan.” (No, I’m not making any of this up.) Thir Satanic holidays were recently officially recognized by the state of Maryland. As an aside, I really don’t want to even think about what my browser history looks like this morning.
The bottom line for this flag flying issue is the question of whether or not the Satanic Temple is actually a religion as understood in the American legal system. As much as it irks me to say it, I don’t see any serious argument to say that it’s not. It has all the normal trappings of other religions and they boast an alarming number of members. Any Christian or Jewish religious sect likely includes information about the Devil in their religious texts. So if the government must respect your right to believe in and worship God, on what basis could they forbid or limit the rights of those who have pledged themselves to the hordes of hell?
As I already mentioned, Mayor Wu has not answered the request from the group yet. But in the end, if she is forced to allow the Christian group’s flag to fly there, she will likely just have to bite the bullet and let the Satanists fly theirs as well. Alternately, they could change City Hall policy and say that no flags will be allowed except for the American flag and the state flag of Massachusetts. But the city won’t be allowed to pick winners and losers in the flag wars, so perhaps that would be the best option.