Flag flown by extremists posted on AZ Senate security desk
A small “An Appeal to Heaven” flag can be seen posted on the upper left corner of a security desk in the Arizona Senate building. Photo submitted anonymously
A flag flown by extremists and Christian Nationalists that was quietly removed from a Senate security desk last session has been put back on display on a security desk out of public view, the Arizona Mirror has learned.
The white flag with a pine tree on it and the phrase “An Appeal to Heaven” was originally used by George Washington and the Continental Army. It was later adopted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as its naval and maritime flag from 1776 until 1971, when it was replaced by a similar flag that did not include the phrase “An Appeal to Heaven.”
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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.
Earlier this month, the Mirror reported on the flag’s display by Surprise Republican Sen. Janae Shamp, who displays the flag on her desk. The story noted the flag’s history of appearing in the Arizona Capitol as well.
Last year, the Secular Coalition of Arizona pointed out that a small version of the flag was being displayed on the security desk in the Arizona Senate; it was later removed. A larger version of the flag was displayed in the second-floor lobby of the Arizona House of Representatives last year, as well. Again, after the Secular Coalition of Arizona inquired about the flag, it was quietly removed. The flag had previously been displayed in the chamber in 2017.
The Secular Coalition of Arizona sees the flag as a violation of the constitutional doctrine requiring a separation of church and state.
“Though this was originally a revolutionary war flag, it’s been co-opted by white Christian nationalists, and was prevalent in DC on January 6th, 2021 To deny this is willful ignorance,” Secular Arizona Executive Director Jeanne Casteen said in a statement to the Mirror. “One’s governance should not be based on biblical principles or any other religious principles. The Constitution should guide one’s governance, and this flag is a signal that notifies people that any elected official who displays it will push evangelical extremism and the will of the few over what’s needed for the Common Good.”
After the publishing of the Mirror’s story, the flag reappeared but this time at a security desk that is not public facing and in an area only accessible by staffers and lawmakers. The Mirror reached out to the Arizona Senate Republican caucus but they did not respond to multiple requests for comment about what policies, if any, the Senate has regarding the display of flags.
The flag was seen carried by a number of individuals during the violent events of Jan. 6, 2021. The flag has also been heavily adopted by hate groups and other extremist groups. The flag is mainly popular with Christian Nationalists and Christian Dominionists.
While Christian nationalism centers on the idea that God intended America to be a Christian nation — one without religious pluralism — and that Christians should control all levels of government and society, Christian dominionism holds that Christians should take total control over most aspects of society.
One of the more popular Dominionist beliefs is in the so-called “Seven Mountain Mandate,” which draws from the biblical book of Revelations and requires Christians to invade the “seven spheres” of society: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business, and government. In doing so, American life can be reshaped to hew to conservative Christian values.
The idea has been embraced and promoted by people like Turning Point USA leader Charlie Kirk and Paula White, the televangelist who served as a “spiritual advisor” to Donald Trump while he was president.
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