On Tuesday, the Montgomery City Council again tabled a resolution to proclaim September as American Christian Heritage Month.
The American Christian Heritage Month resolution is sponsored by outgoing councilman Brantley Lyons, who didn't run for re-election in 2023.
A city attorney for Montgomery advised the council against passing the resolution at their meeting on September 5 because it possibly opened up a precedent for other groups to request their flags be featured on city property.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2022 that the city of Boston violated the Constitution when it rejected an application to fly a Christian flag on one of the three flagpoles in front of city hall. Because the city program that allowed other private groups to raise and fly their own flags was not speech by the city, the court held the city could not refuse permission to fly a particular flag because of the views that it expressed. The flag that Harold Shurtleff, the director of a group known as Camp Constitution, wanted to fly on City Hall Plaza in September 2017 featured a red cross on a blue field set against a white background. When the city denied Shurtleff's application, Shurtleff went to court, where he alleged that the denial violated (among other things) his right to free speech, according to SCOTUSblog.
Shurtleff told 1819 News recently, "I agree with the city attorney that letting the Christian flag fly would open it up to other groups, some good and maybe some not so good. He is correct, and our attorney Matt Staver mentioned it in his oral argument to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, the city has already done so by flying the Rainbow flag."
"So, either fly all flags that are requested by local groups or only fly the U.S., State, County, POW-MIA and City flags which is what many towns and cities around the country have been doing in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision," Shurtleff said.
Gay pride flags were spotted in June on city property in Montgomery.
A resolution declaring September American Christian Heritage Month was tabled for the council's next meeting. A compromise resolution also sponsored by Lyons stated only the flags of the United States of America, of the State of Alabama, or of any United States or State military organization may be flown or placed upon any of the city of Montgomery's public properties. That resolution was also considered at the meeting on Tuesday but didn't garner enough support to suspend the rules and pass as a new resolution. Both resolutions will be considered at the council's next meeting.
William Green spoke in favor of the American Christian Heritage Month resolution.
Green said at the meeting, "All I'm asking from the city council is to allow me and other Christians that feel this way is to get our time to fly our Christian flag as others have already been given that."
"The reason that I even petitioned was because the city had already set a precedent for the last four years that they do allow the flags to express an opinion and it was similar to the Supreme Court case that just decided within a year 9-0 by the Supreme Court that once the city established a precedent that once you allow other flags to be flown it's not government speech, it is free speech," Green said. "Therefore, the city can not then prohibit any free speech. Therefore, with Shurtleff vs. the city of Boston, it was decided 9-0 that it was okay to fly the Christian flag and thus they did fly the Christian flag in the city of Boston. What I'm asking again is I'm not here to be anti-anything. As a matter of fact, I'm for anyone else that wants to come up here and ask if their flag be flown also. I would be hypocritical if I was against any other flag. I'm here as lifting up the name of Jesus, and I'm pro-Christianity."
Another resolution regulating the flying of flags on city property did pass on Monday, but it only applied to flag poles on city property during business hours. It didn't apply to all city property.
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