West Roxbury man threatens to sue city if mayor won't let him fly his Christian flag from a City Hall flagpole

Citing the First Amendment, Mayor Walsh is refusing to let Hal Shurtleff, who runs a New Hampshire camp to teach kids his version of the Constitution, fly a Christian flag from one of the three flagpoles in front of City Hall, the Herald reports.

Shurtleff, whose name is familiar to devotees of the bulletin board at the West Roxbury Roche Bros., and who spent some 26 years as a New England coordinator for the John Birch Society, says this is outrageous. His Florida-based lawyers are demanding Walsh change course by Sept. 27 or suffer the consequences for not letting him fly a white flag with a red cross on a blue field in the corner and hold a ceremony on City Hall Plaza about our "Judeo-Christian moral heritage."

He might have to stand in line with the local Satanists, who periodically demand they be allowed to give a convocation at the start of a City Council meeting.

Shurtleff was a New England coordinator for the John Birch Society until 2016. He claims he was forced out when the society, which believed Eisenhower was a Communist infiltrator and which believes the UN wants to take over local government in the US, gave him a choice between continuing his work with them or with his Camp Constitution.

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I Miss Med State

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Sure it was all kinds of one flew over the cuckoo's nest but it kept people like this away from the general public.

Incidentally don't try to look up Camp Constitution on the web as their site is seriously hijacked or infected. But you can rest assured if it has any active enrollment those children will need a lot of counseling to rejoin society.

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website

I've had no trouble accessing the website:campconstitution.net

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the right is mining christian religious liberty in the courts

MAFamilyCouncil, through the courts, got churches exemption from the "bathroom bill" public accommodation clauses.

You've seen the arguments about whether pizza places and bakeries have to serve teh gays. That's also a religious freedom argument.

Boston's favorite Bircher is trying to establish a legal president and he may have picked a good target, Marty Walsh. I hope the mayor is positioning himself for the legal battle rather than defense of his refusal to the request. He would do that by discussing the issue with experts on the first amendment like the ACLU rather than just corporation counsel.

Koch brothers' father founded the John Birch Society and it's seeing a resurgence now in the Trump era. I think the HQ was in Belmont.

What conservatives understand is that people do care about their culture and how it is changing. That is why they pick issues like this one and stoke islamophobia. For example, a large of number of southern state legislatures passed or tried to pass resolutions in opposition sharia.

SPLC:

The John Birch Society publishes the Manifesto and sells it for six bucks a pop at gatherings of its conspiracy theory-loving, U.N.-hating, federal government-despising, Ron Paul-supporting, environmentalist-bashing, Glenn Beck-watching true believers, attending, in this case, a luncheon celebrating the group’s 54th anniversary.

After more than five decades of secret socialist plots and accusations of treason at the highest levels of American government — these are the people who once called President Dwight Eisenhower a communist — the arch-conservative John Birch Society is still waging its Cold War-era crusade against the Red menace and American “insiders” who, in the society’s view, are hell-bent on handing the country over to the socialists at the U.N.

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Ah John Birch

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14 year old me took a four-question survey from a John Birch table at a local fair, and the results of that survey labeled me a communist. I got such dirty looks from the people manning the table.

Greatest compliment of my life.

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Fun fact

His legal representation is the Liberty Counsel, which famously defended Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences to same sex couples.

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As Fringy as Kelly Leak's Jacket

Anytime I hear someone needs to promote their Judeo Christian heritage I like to remind them that we are under serious threat in the US of falling under UN control with Sharia law soon after. Their squirming is a thing of beauty.

Hold fast Marty and tell these kooks to beat it.

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Well

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Marty did fly the Trans Flag!

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So?

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That's not a religion. You might want to read the First Amendment. It's really not very long.

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Cobalt Thorium G

There is no fighting in the war Room!

have you never wondered why I drink only distilled water, or rain water, and only pure-grain alcohol?

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Hal Shurtleff is a ..

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.. deviated prevert. He's gonna have to answer to the Coca Cola company!

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Too many fifedoms

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You are correct Adam, and I myself am a firm believer in the Constitution and separation of church and state, though being quite religious myself. But I think Anon makes an unintentional point. There are far to many random flags being flown at City Hall at various times. The LGBT flag (and I speak as an LGBT man), the Puerto Rican Flag, Trans flag, Polish flag, this flag, that flag. It makes it seem like everybody is in their own little fiefdom rather than one people united under the American Flag.

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Fiefdoms or celebrations?

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For the most part, the third flagpole on City Hall aza is used to celebrate who we are and where we come from - or to honor guests from different countries. They're a reminder, as they fly up there with the American and state flag that E pluribus unum, that we can remember where we come from while still being American.

The trans flag that flew before the legislature voted for trans rights had a more political message, I'll grant you. But in a city where the City Council had voted unanimously for a similar measure, and with a mayor who was a strong supporter, why not? And even there, it was a reminder that we are our brother's keeper, that we stick together as a community and support all among us. And that's a place I'd want to live in.

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nothing burger

BostonHerald

Constitutional law experts say the city is likely on solid legal ground in denying the request.

“The city’s choice of which flags to fly is likely to be government speech, and thus within its discretion, unless the city really has a policy of accepting all nonreligious flags without any real review,” said Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor.

Mark Tushnet, a Harvard law professor, said the city’s interpretation that flying the flag on a city flagpole could be viewed as an endorsement would, in his opinion, hold water with a judge.

“I think it’s much more likely for people to think if it’s on the city flagpole, then the city must be standing behind it,” he said. “If that’s right, then the city in my view is entitled to say no.”

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establish favor for religion

I'd endorse flying religious flags in such a way as not to establish favor for one religion over another. Perhaps we could simultaneously fly the coexist flag, christian flag, Israeli flag, al bayrak (white star and crescent on red field), hindu flag, budda flag, and satanist flag.

Do this man fly that flag on his property in NH? Either way, good for him.

Last time he made the papers he was looking to get expemptions on residential property from EPA regulation. Time before that he was praising a Democratic state rep. gun safety policy.

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Not following.

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Which mayoral campaign? What's the link?

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Man, you've gotta be a

Man, you've gotta be a serious wingnut to be too crazy for the John Birch Society. This guy can piss up a rope.

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Request form

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Here is the city's request form.
https://www.cityofboston.gov/propertymanagement/event_application.asp

Use this form to request the use of Faneuil Hall, Sam Adams Park, City Hall Plaza, City Hall Lobby, North Stage or the City Hall Flag Poles.

Not a lawyer, but seeing all these things grouped together would make it more complicated? If the city has allowed non-secular use of any of these sites, does that ruin the argument that the flag pole can only be used for secular flags?

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Simple solution

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Cease flying random flags in City Hall Plaza. Stop doing convocations before City Council meetings.

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Little known fact....

Little known fact....

Campers at Camp Constitution all enjoy using locally sourced, artisan made outhouses constructed of native New Hampshire birch trees. After their first visit, they automatically become members of 'the Birch John society"

I have never used a birch john, but imagine that it must be a lovely experience.

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The issue places Walsh in the corner where he belongs

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Mayor Walsh's willingness to promote the transgender flag and all things liberal while denying the Christian flag (who would have noticed?) really says it all. Perhaps we can have a flag for all of the murdered "ho's" referenced in the lyrics of Bel Biv Devoe, the Mayor's choice for City Hall family entertainment.

Has any journalist interviewed Cardinal O'Malley on this issue or is "Irish Catholic" Walsh allowed a free pass? The Catholic church once had influence in Christian issues in this city. May the Knights of Columbus fly their flag at City Hall? K of C is a Catholic group that does tremendous charitable work in Boston but differs with Walsh and his liberal pals on the sanctity of life. Speak up, Cardinal, your flock is waiting.

This non-issue becoming public is a good thing since it places Walsh further into the extreme-left corner where he belongs. A "no-factor" for any higher office, thank God (pun intended.) Maybe the illegals in Walsh's sanctuary at City Hall or the Teamsters accused of intimidating the female Indian chef (their acquittal was a "relief" according to Marty) can fly their flag.

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There was a time I questioned

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There was a time I questioned Adam's sanity at not blocking/deleting your posting privileges.

These days, in the era of the Orange Embarassment, I actually applaud Adam's testicular fortitude at letting you continue to vomit vile absurdities and hostility toward others unlike yourself.

Your utter, hysterical, pointless, baseless, ______-phobic ridiculousness makes me giggle. (I suspect we all need the occasional giggle if we're gonna survive until the next president takes office.)

So, thanks for the laughs. And, may God have mercy on your soul.

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Um, Uncle Bigot?

Little Jonny's still asking you to pass the stuffing. Been like five minutes ...

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First Amendment, pure and simple

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"Mayor Walsh's willingness to promote the transgender flag and all things liberal while denying the Christian flag (who would have noticed?) really says it all. "

This has nothing to do with Marty Walsh when you get right down to it. You show a distinct lack of knowledge of the principals this country is founded on. THIS is why a Christian flag, or any other religious flag will not be flown at City Hall:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Furthermore, in a January 1, 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut, Jefferson wrote:

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."

Get that? A WALL OF SEPARATION BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE.

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Well, we don't

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I've never seen a Bible produced in Massachusetts courts (caveat: it's not like I've spent a ton of time in court, but I have seen people sworn in there). But, in any case, people who object to telling the truth so help them God can instead affirm they are telling the truth.

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Oh, for Christ's sake

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If nothing else, because few people would be at work on Christmas.

And, yes, I know your next question is going to be "Why do we have 'In God We Trust' on our money?"

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Because...

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...we live in a Christian supremacist country. Happy now?

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Did you know?

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Keith Ellison, a practicing Muslim, was sworn into Congress on Thomas Jefferson's Koran!

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You know that when the

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You know that when the constitution and the bill of rights were signed, many of the states, including Massachusetts, had established churches, right? That amendment binds congress, not the states.

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You know it's not 1791, right?

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And that the US Constitution, including its amendments, has been held to apply to states and cities, too? Don't believe me? Take it up with the Supreme Court (why, there's even a 1982 decision throwing out, on First Amendment grounds, a Massachusetts law that let churches veto nearby liquor stores).

In any case, Massachusetts ditched the idea of an established church in the 1830s, so your argument is moot.

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"so your argument is moot"

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"so your argument is moot"

For what it's worth, in legal terms this doesn't mean "irrelevant".

Moot refers to an issue that remains unsettled, open to argument or debatable. It is especially refers to a legal question which has not been determined by any decision of any court

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Well, OK

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The question of whether the First Amendment applies to non-federal government bodies was settled long ago, so my apologies if I got the definition of "moot" wrong.

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Do you?

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Do you?

The first amendment didn't do any of that by itself. The fourteenth amendment had to be ratified first.

Jeffersons private letter is always held up as some demonstration that all the founding fathers understood the first amendment to apply to states -- the founding generation's practice of writing established churches into state constitutions indicates they believed the 1st and 10th amendments actually meant exactly what they said.

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How the actual fuck

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is the transgender flag "something liberal?"

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"Christian issues within this city"

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The Catholic church once had influence in Christian issues in this city.

They still do, within their purview, which is the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is their own clubhouse, and they can run it as they please, and fight amongst themselves about the whys and wherefores of all that. Neither they nor any other religious institution has any standing outside their own little club, and when they attempt to assert such standing, they should be invited by every respectable citizen to go pound sand.

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What if?

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I understand this guy is probably trying to prove a point regarding his aversion to political correctness. I think the city is right in denying him this flag raising based on the church and state criteria, provided no other religious group gets to fly their flag. I don't know if any others ever have done it or even asked. I know the city flies all sorts of flags celebrating all sorts of different events, countries, lifestyles, etc. This brings to mind a scenario: The city, on many occasions, has celebrated LGBT with various flags on city hall. If a group were to come forward asking that the city fly the flag representing the straight or heterosexual lifestyle, would they do it, and if not, would this expose the city to legal ramifications based on equal treatment type criteria? I'm wondering if, in order to avoid these lawsuits, it might be wise to just fly the city, state, and American flags on the plaza. Please share your thoughts.

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Heterosexual lifestyle doesn't exist

Neither does the homosexual lifestyle.

They aren't lifestyles. Being gay or straight or bi is just what you are. You don't pick that.

If they were, then stereotype declares that I and my husband of nearly 30 years are absolutely lesbians, given our penchant for driving our Subaru with kayaks on the roof while blasting kd lang.

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Ok

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Ok, I'll agree it's not a lifestyle, it's just who one is. I'm just asking if anyone thinks the man would have legal standing under some kind of equal treatment criteria if Instead of asking to fly a religious flag and being denied, if he were to ask the city to fly the straight/heterosexual flag and was denied.

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Straight/heterosexual flag?

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If so, could you post a photo of it? I'd be most curious to see what it looks like.

Again, as I mentioned earlier, read the First Amendment. It's exactly one sentence long and it's pretty straightforward, and it specifically refers to religion, not sexual preferences, hair color, etc.

So if we're going to raise First Amendment issues, the guy would have a case if, say, the city let a local temple or mosque fly flags with their respective religion's symbols on them and then refused to let him fly a flag with a cross on it.

Yes, the city could let the guy fly his flag - but only if they let every other religious group fly theirs as well; the courts have a binary, all or nothing approach to the Establishment Clause.

Christians who demand to use public property to advertise their beliefs often don't think it through - ask the Florida legislature, which wanted a creche in the State House but wound up with a creche and a Festivus pole.

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Brilliant!

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The best U-Hub response ever! Thank you, Swirly.

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"Almost Cut My Hair"

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"I feel like letting my freak flag fly."
-David Crosby
1970

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I work in West Roxbury, and

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I work in West Roxbury, and one morning I noticed fresh graffiti on a bridge, it read "Stop the Zionist UN!" or something along those lines. I kinda shrugged and thought how bizarre it was that somebody in 2017 thought West Roxbury needed to hear that fringe message. After reading this I think I have a suspect...

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how weird our politics are

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This is how weird our politics are.

Far-right Birchers are anti-Zionist (opposed to Israeli nation) and anti-Semitic because Jews, they believe, control to much power and wealth.

Millennials and others are anti- Israeli occupation and anti-apartheid in occupied West Bank and pro-BDS and not because they're anti-Semitic but because they believe in equal protection under law and they oppose colonialism.

In a testament to the power of recognizing intersectionality, Black Lives Matter at Furgeson announced their support for Palestianian liberty.

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