Alitos' flag sent a message – whether they knew it or not

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In a letter to members of Congress, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has again blamed his wife for flying flags associated with the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection and adopted by supporters of Donald Trump’s effort to steal the 2020 presidential election.

One of the flags, an upside-down American flag, has long been used as a signal of distress and to protest the government, including by Trump’s backers.

The other, a white flag with a lone pine tree and the words “An Appeal to Heaven,” is a flag that dates to Colonial times. But as communication scholars Leslie Hahner and Scott J. Varda explain, over the past decade the “Appeal to Heaven” flag has become a clarion call for the U.S. government to be recast using the principles of evangelical Christianity.

Even if, as Alito has now claimed, he and his wife didn’t know what the flag stands for, a lot of people around the country definitely do.

[ Miss us on Sundays? Get a selection of our best and most popular stories (or try our other weekly emails). ]

Jeff Inglis

Politics + Society Editor

Demonstrators display a call for Christian nationalism at the Jan. 6, 2021, ‘Stop the Steal’ rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Outside Supreme Court justice’s home, a Revolution-era flag, now a call for Christian nationalism

Leslie Hahner, Baylor University; Scott J. Varda, Baylor University

Flagpoles outside homes owned by Justice Samuel Alito have displayed symbols used by Trump supporters and Jan. 6 insurrectionists.

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