(Official Washington Examiner editorial, May 3) A unanimous Supreme Court on Monday again made clear that government may not act with hostility against religion.

This bears repeating because so many leftist ideologues and willfully misguided fellow travelers keep insisting that the First Amendment requires government to erect actively a “wall of separation” between itself and faith so high that one can barely acknowledge the other. That wall of separation claim is nonsense that is not only erroneous but acrid as well.

The First Amendment means that government may not establish or favor one religious denomination over another. It does not empower government to keep the free expression of religion completely away from the public square. Indeed, its aim is to encourage all faiths to flourish publicly unhindered, both in the private and public arenas.

The case at hand, Shurtleff v. City of Boston, arose when Boston refused to allow a Christian group to fly a flag at City Hall Plaza despite allowing other groups to do so. The plaza contains three flagpoles. Two of them permanently display the U.S. and state flags. As for the third pole, it usually displays the flag of Boston. However, there is a tradition of letting private groups hold ceremonies on the plaza and fly their own flags from it instead.

This changed when a Christian group duly and properly reserved the plaza for its ceremony, only to have city officials forbid its flag. In response, the Christian group sued. Bizarrely, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Christian group. Now, a 9-0 Supreme Court ruling has wisely reversed the decision.

In the use of the third flagpole, it is abundantly clear that the government of Boston is not expressing its own viewpoint or endorsing the content of the flag…. [The full editorial is here.]


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