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Christian flag raising at Manteca City Hall for Holy Week sparks controversy

Raising of Christian flag creates fallout in Manteca
Raising of Christian flag creates fallout in Manteca 02:18

MANTECA — For Holy Week, the city of Manteca raised a Christian flag. This is only the second flag to be raised outside city hall since the Pride flag back in June.

While some community members see the Christian flag raising as a great thing, others see it only as a response to the Pride flag.

For Pride month, the city of Manteca raised the Pride flag at the request of several city workers.

"It's a way for citizens in our community to express their freedom of speech," said Toni Lundgren.

Lundgren is the city manager for Manteca. She has the say over what kind of flags are flown over city hall.

"We have a new policy that was adopted in '23. It gives [me] authority to raise a flag at my discretion," she said.

In July, after the Pride flag was raised, someone requested another flag raising.

"We had a request to raise the Christian flag during Holy Week," said Lundgren.

This prompted the city to create a new policy where a commemorative flag — representing a date, event, cause, nation or people – can be honored and raised.

The person who requested the Christian flag, Pastor Theo Pope, drew inspiration from the Pride flag raising.

"There were other flags that were flown, so I thought, 'Well, why not the Christian flag?' " said Pope.

However, some people we spoke with who are members of the LGBTQ+ community, feel the Christian flag raising was a rebuttal against the Pride flag raising.

Pastor Pope said that's just not true.

"We pray for everyone whether they are LGBTQ+ or not. We don't isolate anyone," Pope said. "We disagree on certain things, obviously, but it's about the Lord — what he wants — and I believe what he wants is our city to prosper."

Other opposers feel the raising of the Christian flag shouldn't have happened since it mixes government with religion.

In Lundgren's eyes, there are a lot of taxpayers and people in the city who want and should be represented.

"I think at the end of the day, we represent everyone," she said.

The city manager will listen to any and all flag-raising requests from people in the city.

So far there are no solid plans for another flag raising at City Hall, but come June, you could see the Pride flag up there again. Opposers also want to see other religions displayed, such as the end of Ramadan or Passover.

The commemorative flags can only be on display for seven days at a time, and only one flag is allowed to be flown at a time.

You can email the city manager on the Manteca city staff directory here.

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