BOSTON — The Satanic Temple is requesting to fly a flag over Boston City Hall after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that 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 tweeted a request filed Tuesday with the city property management department to raise a flag marking “Satanic Appreciation Week” from July 23-29.
Mayor Michelle Wu’s office declined to comment on the group’s request other than to say it’s reviewing the high court’s decision while also evaluating its flag-raising program.
Lucien Greaves, the organization’s co-founder, said in an email Wednesday that the group wants to show that religious liberty must mean respect for “all forms” of religious practice and religious opinion.
“When government officials are able to impose arbitrary restrictions on claims of conscience, or to abridge the civic capacities of some based on their religious identity, we fail to be a free, democratic republic,” he wrote in part.
The organization hasn’t decided which of its official flags it will ask the city to fly, Greaves said, but one likely option echoes the American flag, only with black and white stripes and an emblem of a pentagram and goat skull where the 50 stars would be.
The Satanic Temple is separate from the Church of Satan, which was founded in the 1960s. Founded in 2013, the Satanic Temple doesn’t believe in Satan and describes itself as a “non-theistic religious organization” that advocates for secularism.
It has lodged freedom of religion challenges nationwide, including a federal lawsuit arguing the Boston City Council’s traditional opening prayer at its public meetings is discriminatory and unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that Boston discriminated against activist Harold Shurtleff because of his “religious viewpoint,” even though it had routinely approved other flag raising requests.
In 2017, Shurtleff and his Camp Constitution wanted to fly a white banner with a red cross on a blue background called the Christian flag to mark Constitution Day on Sept. 17.
Philip Marcelo reports for The Associated Press.