Christian flag raising criticism in legislature
No policy against flying religious flag, says Premier
Some members of the Newfoundland legislature are asking why there is a Christian flag flying outside Confederation Building.
The MHA for St. John's Centre, Gerry Rogers, said she was approached Tuesday by constituents and people who work in the building, "who were really concerned about really what does this flag represent?"
People in the province support religious freedom, said Rogers, but felt "this was a flag that represents a very divisive approach to Christianity, that it's homophobic, that it's against choice for women."
The flag raising on Confederation Hill, and by city councils in St. John's and Mount Pearl, has touched off a #TakeTheFlagDown furor on Twitter.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/CityofStJohns">@CityofStJohns</a> St. Stephen the Martyr church condemns homosexuality and same-sex marriage and promotes conversion therapy. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/taketheflagdown?src=hash">#taketheflagdown</a>—@reneeryan99
To make the assumption that just one flag encompasses the views of an entire religion is idiotic. Plain and simple. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TakeTheFlagDown?src=hash">#TakeTheFlagDown</a>—@RyanMcdons
A violation of policy?
Mount Pearl North MHA Steve Kent said according to policy, the "courtesy" flagpole outside the building is meant for "international organizations or to recognize occasions or events of provincial, national or international significance."
He said when the Progressive Conservatives were in government, there was "an understanding that the flags to be flown had to be non-political, non-religious, non-confrontational, non-controversial."
Kent said he and then premier, Paul Davis, met last year with church leaders who decided that particular Christian flag should not be flown.
"At that time, I believe that was a good decision," said Kent.
"There is really no clear policy," said Premier Dwight Ball, who told reporters Tuesday the guidelines were in "draft" form.
The premier acknowledged that those guidelines did specify that flags should be "non-religious," but the Liberal government decided to approve flying the flag anyway.
"The request came in asking to fly the Christian flag during Easter Week, during Holy Week. That request was granted," said Ball.
"This was about being tolerant and open to the views of all people in the province."
It's not about being "anti-anything," said Ball.
"I've participated in pride parades and flag raisings and I'm sure I will do so in the future."
With notes from Jeremy Eaton and Katie Breen