UWindsor Lance: Waving the Flags of Special Interest Groups

UWindsor Lance
Issue 10, Volume 85
Sept. 5, 2012
Jon Liedtke

History was made in Windsor recently when a Christian flag was raised at City Hall in a ceremony that precluded the ‘March for Jesus’.

The flag raising, which was focused around a message of love and peace, drew about 100 attendees, and upon its rising into the air, chants of “Praise the Lord” and “Hallelujah” could be heard throughout Charles Clark Square.

Having been raised in the 1990s in Canada, I was ironically taught that there is a separation of church and state. The irony is that separation of church and state is an American ideal (though not a constitutional idea), not that the notion of separation of church and state is ironic in itself.

I was also taught the benefits of inclusivity and that Canada was a ‘cultural mosaic, ‘ rather than the traditional composite ‘melting pot’ that the United States was and still is described to be.

Thus, the situation at City Hall is indeed a perplexing one to the masses. One the one hand, when viewed through the lens of separating church and state, there is no defense to flying a Christian flag at City Hall. The imagery conveyed is that of a theocracy, promoting the beliefs of one religion, while limiting that of others.

On the other hand, through the lens of inclusivity and multiculturalism, there is no defense to not allow the Christian flag to be flown at City Hall. This is especially true when you consider that the Pride flag was flown at City Hall for Windsor Pride festivities.

Indeed, the raising of the Pride Flag has become a traditional symbol of the beginning of Pride Festivities in many communities around the world.

While it may not be a direct response, the raising of the Christian flag can be seen as a general response to the flying of the Pride flag. If the purpose of flying the Pride flag is to champion the LGBTQ community while promoting inclusivity, then the same basic argument can be applied to flying a Christian flag; the notable difference being that a Christian flag would champion the Christian community and promote inclusivity.

I feel deep sympathy for city administration in regard to this situation, for at what point, does the line have to be drawn? If the city allows a Pride flag and a Christian flag, then surely, they must allow the flying of a flag from a different group of constituents.

Under this logic, all flags would have the right to be flown, unless the flag were to promote hate speech. If the city were presented with a proposal to fly an Israeli flag one week and a Palestinian flag another week, the question arises, would both flags be flown?

And what would happen if a group wanted to fly the Confederate flag, or on the more extreme end, a Ku Klux Klan flag? How do these decisions, so infused with politics, get made? And who is it that makes them? Is it the mayor or council, administration or a committee?

It is my honest belief that for all the messiness that can be raised, the city should abstain from flying anything other than flags that recognize Canadian institutions: whether it is the flag of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, a sister city’s flag or a monarchical one.

Promoting and participating in inclusivity is a noble ideal that all residents should practice. However, when it comes to the city attempting to cater to every group, invariably, someone will be offended due to a perceived injustice; whether real or otherwise.

Putting my personal belief aside that the state should indeed stray far away from religion, I don’t believe that the city made an error in judgment in allowing the flag to be flown.

Indeed, it is telling and surprising to many who discover it, that rather than adhering to the strict doctrine of the separation of church and state in Canada, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms explicitly begins with the preface: “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law. “

Fortunately, that very same document enshrines the basic notion that every Canadian citizen has the freedom of conscience and religion.

UWindsor Lance
Waving the Flags of Special Interest Groups
Issue 10, Volume 85
Sept. 5, 2012
Jon Liedtke
Page 3

Jon Liedtke was the Features and Opinions Editor, Advertising Manager and Deficit Consultant at the UWindsor Lance.



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