I got a phone call this morning from Susan in Windsor, Ontario.
Susan’s rightly infuriated that her city council is violating it’s own policy by raising the Christian Flag as part of the annual “March for Jesus” campaign, hosted by a local Christianist organization.
The council’s policy on flag raising (PDF) states:
At no time will the City of Windsor display flags deemed to be inappropriate or offensive in nature or those supporting discrimination, prejudice, political or religious movements.
According to the Windsor Area Rational Free Thinkers’ League, one city staff member disregarded the rule last year using some twisted logic:
City Hall chief administrative officer Helga Reidel told CBC Windsor, “The application is in compliance with the City’s policy because this is not a religious movement. Religious movements try to bring about religious reform, and that’s not what this is.”
To use the word “movements” as an excuse to allow the religious flag is disingenuous, as it in all likelihood betrays the policy’s intended function of preventing the City of Windsor officially endorsing religion. The prevention of such an endorsement would be in accordance with Sections 2 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
A Christian organization that has a “commitment is to lift up the name of Jesus, in our city, and to show the world that Jesus is the answer to their life’s situations” is not a movement? Give me a break. This is a clear affront to the separation of church and state, and unless the City of Windsor plans to give equal space for atheist, Muslim, Jewish, and other religious groups, it ought to stick with its ban on religious messages.
Quoting from Susan’s letter (with permission):
Raising a Christian flag at City Hall is the epitome of endorsement. It sends the message that this is a “Christian city” which it is not. Individual cities cannot violate our Canadian Constitution.
As a non-Christian, raising a Christian flag sends the message that the City of Windsor favours one religion over others. This is not only illegal, but it is inconsistent with the goal of equality for all.
March for Jesus is planning on raising their flag on August 19th. Until them, I’m hoping to help Susan raise some noise through various organizations that might be able to provide her a hand. Let me know if you can help Susan Keep Windsor Secular.