Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is once more being harassed by media and activists, this time over a flag flown at a family home in New Jersey.

Photographs purporting to be from last summer show “The Pinetree Flag” flapping in the breeze beside the Alito home on Long Beach Island.

Also known as “An Appeal to Heaven” or “An Appeal to God” flag, the historic banner predates the American Revolution.

Nobody really knows when people started flying flags, though there is evidence of them dating back thousands of years. Seen as symbolic expressions of all kinds of messages and passions – from national unity to the political, social and spiritual – they’re popular and widespread due to their distinctness and ability to grab and hold attention.

Prior to the adoption of the Stars and Stripes on June 14, 1777, there was no single flag flown in the American colonies. Benjamin Franklin designed a “Sons of Liberty” banner that was emblazoned with the phrase, “join or die,” and featured nine vertical red and white stripes, along with a disjointed rattlesnake. Franklin’s intent was clear: the colonists needed to stick together.

Most of us are familiar with the “Gadsden” or the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag – a yellow banner featuring a coiled black rattlesnake. General Charles Lee also designed a red flag bearing the motto, “Liberty.” Another flag featured the phrase, “Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God,” a line that came from a popular pastor named Jonathan Mayhew.

 Designed by Colonel Joseph Reed, General Washington’s secretary, the “Pinetree Flag” was partly a nod to New England’s prized white pine, which was everywhere in the area and eventually exported elsewhere. The tree represented the area’s strength and might.

The “Appeal to Heaven” motto was said to have been inspired by the writings of John Locke, the Christian philosopher best known for his influence and contribution to the Enlightenment, especially his “Second Treatise on Civil Government.”

“And where the Body of the People, or any single Man, is deprived of their Right, or is under the Exercise of a power without right, and have no Appeal on Earth, there they have a liberty to appeal to Heaven, whenever they judge the Cause of sufficient moment,” wrote Locke.

The Pinetree flag was flown on Naval ships and flag poles, and quickly became one of the most popular symbols found in the American colonies.

Sentiment similar to an “appeal to Heaven” was uttered elsewhere, too, including in Patrick Henry’s famous, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!” speech in which he said, “An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts, is all that is left us!”

Critics of Justice Alito are questioning his objectivity simply because others who have chosen to fly the same flag have done so in partisan settings. It’s an ignorant and insulting argument that not only exposes a bias – but also a bitterness to people of faith.

Christians in government “appeal to Heaven” all the time, and well they should. “If any of you lacks wisdom,” urged James, “you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

What’s wrong with seeking the Lord’s guidance? Nothing at all – unless you’re someone who despises Christians or doesn’t appreciate the wisdom Heaven holds to help those here on earth.

Objection to the flag also reveals a historic ignorance. A justice or politician who flies the Pinetree flag is acknowledging his nation’s long history and reliance on God.

You can expect sales of the Pinetree Flag to now soar as citizens who appreciate our country’s history want to express their feelings publicly.

Yet, most importantly, it would be best of all if there was a resurgence in appeals to Heaven for revival via the prayers of our people.


Image from Shutterstock.