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The Satanic Temple in Massachusetts is asking the city of Boston to fly its flag after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that City Hall had unconstitutionally discriminated against a Christian group by refusing to fly its flag.
On Tuesday, the Satanic Temple tweeted a copy of a request the group filed to have Boston fly the flag for “Satanic Appreciation Week” July 23-29. The tweet indicated the request was filed in response to the Supreme Court ruling.
“Religious Liberty is a bedrock principle in a democracy, and Religious Liberty is dependent upon government viewpoint neutrality,” said Lucien Greaves, co-founder of the Satanic Temple in a statement to MassLive. “When public officials are allowed to preference certain religious viewpoints over others, we do not have Religious Liberty, we have theocracy.”
A spokesperson from Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s office told CNN the city was “carefully reviewing the Court’s decision and its recognition of city governments’ authority to operate similar programs.”
“As we consider next steps, we will ensure that future City of Boston programs are aligned with this decision,” the mayor’s office added.
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Camp Constitution, a New Hampshire-based Christian organization that petitioned the city to hoist its flag in front of City Hall in 2017. The city refused, even though it had previously agreed to flags from a variety of private groups beforehand. The court ruled that City Hall had unconstitutionally discriminated against the Christian group based on its religious viewpoint.
“We conclude that, on balance, Boston did not make the raising and flying of private groups’ flags a form of government speech,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote.
In response, the Salem-based Satanic Temple wants to raise its own flag, but has not determined which one.
“We have several flag designs that have already been in production, and have not yet discussed which might be best for this specific purpose,” Greaves told MassLive.
The Satanic Temple was formed in 2013 and is separate from the Church of Satan, which was created in the 1960s. The Massachusetts group describes itself as a “religious organization dedicated to the practice and the promotion of individual rights.” It practices “non-theistic Satanism,” a secular religion that does not believe in the supernatural but instead celebrates Satan as “a symbol of defiance, independence, wisdom, and self-empowerment.”
In a recent letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the group claimed that abortion is one of its religious rituals and that laws preventing access to treatments that kill unborn children in the womb violate its religious liberty.
Reacting to the impending Supreme Court decision that could overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, Greaves said, “I hope that with the leaked draft of the Supreme Court majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, more people will wake up to the fact that these efforts by The Satanic Temple are actually high stakes frontline battles to preserve the basic rights of all, and not merely clever ‘pranks’ to expose already well-known hypocrisies.”