S3, Ep. 08: Flying the flag and Christian nationalism: Previewing Shurtleff v. Boston

Does Boston have to fly the Christian flag?

Jan 13, 2022

The Christian flag is at the center of a case the Supreme Court hears next week. Amanda and Holly preview Shurtleff v. Boston, share how this situation made it to the highest court, and look at the central legal question presented before the justices. They discuss the best arguments from both sides that the Court will consider when it determines whether this flagpole outside Boston City Hall is government speech or a public forum. In segment three, Amanda and Holly discuss the Christian nationalism aspects to the case, and they talk about the Christian flag’s history, including how this powerful symbol has been appropriated in destructive ways.

Segment one: Happy New Year and a peculiar case for the Supreme Court  (starting at 01:09)

For a discussion of religious liberty and vaccines, listen to episode 3 of this season: What’s going on with religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates?

Read more about the Shurtleff v. Boston case in this article on BJC’s website: U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear bit do fly Christian flag at Boston City Hall


Segment two: Is the flagpole government speech or a public forum? Arguments and amici (starting at 16:10)

You can see a list of the various parties’ amicus briefs filed in Shurtleff v. Boston and read them online on this page provided by SCOTUSblog.


Segment three: The broader context and why it matters (starting at 31:48)

Amanda mentioned this piece by Brian Kaylor and Beau Underwood at Word & Way that shares the history of the Christian flag: Has the Christian flag become a lost cause?

They also released another article with context on this case: The man behind Shurtleff v. City of Boston

For more on the overlap between Christian symbols and white supremacy, check out this webinar from the Christians Against Christian Nationalism initiative: White Christian Nationalism: How Racism Undergirds Christian Nationalism, featuring Dr. Jemar Tisby, Dr. Robert P. Jones, and Amanda Tyler.

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