Dominionists’ Battle Flag Flown Over Justice Alito’s Beach House

New Apostolic Reformation "apostle" Dutch Sheets made the Appeal to Heaven flag a dominionist banner.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that an “Appeal to Heaven” flag was flown over Justice Samuel Alito’s beach house last summer. Like the upside-down American flag flown at the Alito’s home in the days following the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, the Appeal to Heaven flag was carried by insurrectionists who believed that fighting to keep Donald Trump in office was a righteous cause.

The flag, featuring an evergreen tree and the words “Appeal to Heaven” was used by some patriots in the Revolutionary War. But in recent years it has become what religious-right expert Frederick Clarkson calls “the battle flag of the New Apostolic Reformation,” a symbol of dominionists who rallied around Trump’s presidency and his efforts to stay in office after losing the 2020 election. House Speaker Mike Johnson has also drawn criticism for displaying the flag outside his office.

NAR “apostle” Dutch Sheets has been promoting the flag since 2013. In 2014, Right Wing Watch reported that Sheets and anti-choice activist Janet Porter were invoking the flag to support her abortion-banning “Heartbeat Bill.” In a video at the time, Sheets says of the flag, “this is the banner we were born under.”

Sheets preaches that the church, or ekklesia, is meant to be “God’s governing force on the Earth.” Promoting a 2018 gathering at Trump’s hotel in Washington, D.C. called “The Turnaround: An Appeal to Heaven,” Sheets declared, “The Church is about to move into a completely new level of enforcing Kingdom rule and the will of God on earth.”

During Trump’s term in office, Sheets was intensely focused on the Supreme Court, praying that God would create multiple vacancies for Trump to fill.

Like other religious-right figures, Sheets promotes false Christian nationalist narratives about history and the U.S. founding—which takes on added importance at a time when right-wing Supreme Court justices have used a “historical practices and understandings” test to undermine church-state separation.

Sheets was extremely active in the religious-right wing of the “Stop the Steal” movement to help Trump stay in power, insisting that God did not want Joe Biden to be president. As Biden’s popular and electoral victory margins grew in the week after the election, Sheets declared, “We are in the middle of an evil attempt to overthrow the government of the United States of America,” adding on a hopeful note, “We still have time to see the rod of Christ’s authority fall and crush the rebellion at the gate.”

People For the American Way, which had already called on Alito to recuse himself from cases related to the Jan. 6 insurrection, released a statement from President Svante Myrick saying the news about the Appeal to Heaven flag “calls into question his ability to be impartial not just in cases related to the January 6 insurrection but on a range of other issues as well.”


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