Samuel Alito / Appeal to Heaven
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An “Appeal to Heaven” flag was apparently flown at one of Justice Alito’s homes. The flag has reportedly been used by extremists.

The New York Times reports that an “Appeal to Heaven” flag was flown at one of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s homes, as well as at the home of Supreme Court power broker Leonard Leo. The flag has a Revolutionary War history but has also reportedly been adopted in modern times by extremists and appears in footage of the attack on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

  • The New York Times reports that an “Appeal to Heaven” flag was flown at one of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s homes. It was reportedly also flown at the home of Supreme Court power broker Leonard Leo.

    NY Times: Alito flew at one of his houses the “Appeal to Heaven” flag that was “carried by rioters at the Capitol”on January 6 and has been appropriated by pro-Trump extremists.

    Last summer, two years after an upside-down American flag was flown outside the Virginia home of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., another provocative symbol was displayed at his vacation house in New Jersey, according to interviews and photographs.

    This time, it was the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, which, like the inverted U.S. flag, was carried by rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Also known as the Pine Tree flag, it dates back to the Revolutionary War, but largely fell into obscurity until recent years and is now a symbol of support for former President Donald J. Trump, for a religious strand of the “Stop the Steal” campaign and for a push to remake American government in Christian terms. [The New York Times, 5/22/24]

    ProPublica reporter Andy Kroll posted a photo of the “Appeal to Heaven” flag flying at the home of right-wing Supreme Court power broker Leonard Leo. Kroll later posted a statement of Leo explaining why he flew the flag and distancing himself from “a bunch of insurrectionists.” ProPublica has extensively reported on Leo’s role in the right-wing supermajority at the Supreme Court. [Twitter/X, 5/23/24; Twitter/X 5/23/24; ProPublica, 10/11/23]

  • The “Appeal to Heaven” flag was seen on January 6 and at related events

    The “Appeal to Heaven” flag appears to have been raised at the January 6 “Stop The Steal” rally featuring Trump and on the subsequent march to the Capitol building. [Twitter/X, 1/8/21; Getty Images accessed 5/23/24, accessed 5/23/24; WBUR, 1/6/21; Tow Center for Digital Journalism, 2/24/21]

    The “Appeal to Heaven” flag was reportedly flown by rioters who breached the Capitol on January 6. [Wisconsin Examiner, 1/13/23]

    The “Appeal to Heaven” flag was reportedly “on a pole that was used to attack police” officers on January 6. [Seacoastonline, 1/6/24]

    The “Appeal to Heaven” flag appears to have been flown on stage at an extremist pro-Trump rally on January 5, 2021. [Twitter/X, 1/5/21; The Hub, 1/6/21; The Washington Post, 1/5/21]

    The “Appeal to Heaven” flag was “common on January 6,” and the flag and concept were embraced by others linked to attempts to invalidate the 2020 election. [Written Testimony of Andrew L. Seidel of the Freedom From Religion Foundation on the role Christian Nationalism played in the lead up to and during the attack of January 6th, U.S. House of Representatives, 3/18/22]

    An “Appeal to Heaven” flag apparently was carried at a Richmond, Virginia, Second Amendment rally. Coverage of the rally noted that it featured threats of insurrection but was peaceful. [Twitter/X 1/20/20; The Washington Post, 1/20/20]

  • MAGA figures and right-wing extremists have touted the “Appeal to Heaven” flag in recent years

    Stephen Bannon praised an audience member who brought up the “Appeal to Heaven” flag. [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 1/29/24]

    Far-right figure Kirk Cameron suggested that the “Appeal to Heaven” flag replace the Pride flag. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, 1/19/22; Media Matters, 4/19/23]

    Podcaster and Patriot Academy founder Rick Green said he wished that Boston City Hall would fly an “Appeal to Heaven” flag. [Real America’s Voice, The Water Cooler, 1/19/22]

    Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed the “Appeal to Heaven” flag in an op-ed. [Breitbart, 6/27/15]

  • The “Appeal to Heaven” flag has been linked to extremism more broadly

    Tow Center for Digital Journalism: The “Appeal to Heaven” movement’s tenets contain overtones of both Christian nationalism and Christian dominionism.

    As of 2013, though, the flag was adopted as the emblem of South Carolina-based preacher Dutch Sheets’ Christian initiative aimed at “gathering a network of fellow believers serving Christ in public office” across the U.S. The initiative is aptly named, “An Appeal to Heaven.” Sheets also published a book with the same title and travels all over the country promoting his movement, posting daily prayer sessions to his more than two hundred thousand followers on YouTube. According to Baylor University communications professor, Leslie Hahner, the “Appeal to Heaven” movement’s tenets contain overtones of both Christian Nationalism and Christian Dominionism.

    “Christian Nationalism,” she explained, “is a set of ideological beliefs expressed by [some] white, evangelical Christians. Their beliefs champion the U.S. as a Christian nation, as one that is ordained by God. It’s often connected to, if not an outright embodiment of, ideologies of white supremacy.”

    Sheets and his supporters are concerned with spreading their ideology among elected representatives across the country. In October 2020, Sheets tweeted a picture of himself with the Pine Tree flag at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, where he was “decreeing America’s reset.”

    Hahner notes that, “Christian Dominionism is a set of beliefs and practices [that] often manifest through a smaller sect of white, evangelical Christians and some sections of Catholicism.” According to Hahner, followers of Christian Dominionism, many of whom are supporters of former Pres. Trump, believe that “God gave [them] the [United States]…and that God’s battle with Satan is currently playing out in the arena of politics and elsewhere.” In that way, she says, “Dominionism suggests that white supremacy manifests through God’s hand.”

    Sheets’ “Appeal to Heaven” movement is but one example of a marked rise in Christian Nationalism in the U.S., according to both experts in the field and my research for the Tow Center’s VizPol tool. [Tow Center for Digital Journalism, 2/24/21]

    AZ Mirror: The “Appeal to Heaven” flag has also been used by the Proud Boys and some neo-Nazi groups.

    In recent years, the flag has been adopted by evangelical Christians and Christian nationalists, who see the flag as a rallying call. Christian nationalists believe that the United States is Christian nation that should base its laws and practices around the teachings of Christianity. For followers of the movement, the flag symbolizes what they view as America’s Christian roots. 

    The flag has also been embraced by far-right extremist organizations like the Proud Boys and some neo-Nazi groups. [AZMirror, 6/14/23]

    Mississippi Free Press: An anti-abortion protester carried an “Appeal to Heaven” flag outside an abortion clinic in Mississippi. [Mississippi Free Press, 1/28/22]