Washington, D.C.—American Atheists has joined Americans United for Separation of Church and State in filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case Shurtleff v. Boston. The organizations urge the Justices to refrain from forcing the Boston government to fly the Christian Flag, also known as the Protestant Flag.
In 2017, the Christian organization Camp Constitution applied to raise the Protestant Flag outside Boston City Hall. The city government denied the request, explaining that it has authority over which flags to fly and that it has never flown a religious flag. According to the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, the government cannot endorse a particular religion. Nonetheless, Camp Constitution filed a lawsuit.
“Christian nationalists are trying to force the Boston government to declare allegiance to Christianity. This is an attack on religious freedom,” said Geoffrey T. Blackwell, Litigation Counsel at American Atheists. “Once again, Christians are viewing equal treatment as persecution. It isn’t. Boston isn’t flying the flag of any other religious group. Christianity is not entitled to special treatment.”
American Atheists warns of far-reaching consequences if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Camp Constitution. The Justices would set the precedent that groups and individuals can force governments to fly the Protestant Flag.
“Let’s be honest about what will happen: Small towns, especially in the South, will fly the Protestant Flag again and again. This Christian symbol will become a common sight at government buildings across the country,” added Blackwell.
American Atheists’ Reality Check: Being Nonreligious in America report found that nonreligious Americans face more discrimination and stigma in rural areas than in urban and suburban communities. American Atheists believes that nonreligious people in rural areas would suffer more harm if the Supreme Court allows the Protestant Flag on government buildings.
“Blatantly endorsing evangelical Christianity with the Protestant Flag would further stigmatize atheists and religious minorities who already face discrimination,” said Alison Gill, Vice President for Legal and Policy at American Atheists. “The Supreme Court should decide Shurtleff v. Boston in a way that guarantees religious equality for everyone—not swing the balance even further toward Christian nationalists.”