Johnson Displays Symbol Of 'Christian Warfare' Outside Speaker's Office

Mike Johnson

Speaker Mike Jo

Mike Johnson

As Mike Johnson’s far-right religious beliefs have become a subject of concern for many, two authors who have written on Christian nationalism reveal in a Rolling Stone op-ed just how strongly tied to the far Christian right the new Republican Speaker of the House appears to be.

“The newly elected House speaker has ties to the far-right New Apostolic Reformation — which is hell-bent on turning America into a religious state,” write Bradley Onishi and Matthew D. Taylor.

Johnson, they write, is “a dyed-in-the-wool Christian conservative, and there’s a flag hanging outside his office that leads into a universe of right-wing religious extremism as unknown to most Americans as Johnson was before he ascended to the speakership.”

“The flag — which Rolling Stone has confirmed hangs outside his district office in the Cannon House Office Building — is white with a simple evergreen tree in the center and the phrase ‘An Appeal to Heaven‘ at the top. Historically, this flag was a Revolutionary War banner, commissioned by George Washington as a naval flag for the colony turned state of Massachusetts. The quote ‘An Appeal to Heaven’ was a slogan from that war, taken from a treatise by the philosopher John Locke. But in the past decade it has come to symbolize a die-hard vision of a hegemonically Christian America.”

The flag, Onishi and Taylor write, is now a “symbol of Christian warfare.”

“It is simply untenable to think that Johnson is unaware of what the Appeal to Heaven flag signals today,” they write. “It represents an aggressive, spiritual-warfare style of Christian nationalism, and Johnson is a legal insurrectionist who has deeply tied himself into networks of Christian extremists whose rhetoric, leadership, and warfare theology fueled a literal insurrection.”

op-ed just how strongly tied to the far Christian right the new Republican Speaker of the House appears to be.

“The newly elected House speaker has ties to the far-right New Apostolic Reformation — which is hell-bent on turning America into a religious state,” write Bradley Onishi and Matthew D. Taylor.

Johnson, they write, is “a dyed-in-the-wool Christian conservative, and there’s a flag hanging outside his office that leads into a universe of right-wing religious extremism as unknown to most Americans as Johnson was before he ascended to the speakership.”

“The flag — which Rolling Stone has confirmed hangs outside his district office in the Cannon House Office Building — is white with a simple evergreen tree in the center and the phrase ‘An Appeal to Heaven‘ at the top. Historically, this flag was a Revolutionary War banner, commissioned by George Washington as a naval flag for the colony turned state of Massachusetts. The quote ‘An Appeal to Heaven’ was a slogan from that war, taken from a treatise by the philosopher John Locke. But in the past decade it has come to symbolize a die-hard vision of a hegemonically Christian America.”

The flag, Onishi and Taylor write, is now a “symbol of Christian warfare.”

“It is simply untenable to think that Johnson is unaware of what the Appeal to Heaven flag signals today,” they write. “It represents an aggressive, spiritual-warfare style of Christian nationalism, and Johnson is a legal insurrectionist who has deeply tied himself into networks of Christian extremists whose rhetoric, leadership, and warfare theology fueled a literal insurrection.”

Onishi posted photos of the flag outside Speaker Johnson’s office. Jeff Sharlet, the well-known Dartmouth College professor and author of books on right-wing Christian nationalism including “C Street” and “The Family,” responded, writing: “I believe that’s Mikki Witthoeft, Ashli Babbitt’s mom—who since her daughter’s death has moved wildly right to become a minor fascist icon—outside Mike Johnson’s office w/ the Christian nationalist Appeal to Heaven flag Brad writes about in @RollingStone.”

Onishi and Taylor do a deep dive into the background of the “Appeal to Heaven” flag and the “world of Christian extremism animated by modern-day apostles, prophets, and apocalyptic visions of Christian triumph that was central to the chaos and violence of Jan. 6.”

They focus on The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) “networks of Christian leaders that formed in the 1990s around a renegade evangelical seminary professor named C. Peter Wagner,” and “one of Wagner’s key disciples, an apostle-prophet named Dutch Sheets.”

“In 2013, Sheets was given an Appeal to Heaven flag by a friend who told him that, because it predated the Stars and Stripes, it was the flag that ‘had flown over our nation at its birthing.’ Sheets describes this experience as revelatory, and he seized upon the flag as a symbol of the spiritual-warfare driven Christian nationalist revolution he hoped to see in American politics.”

That’s important, according to Onishi and Taylor, because “Hundreds of Christian figures supported Trump’s effort to overthrow the 2020 election, but, having spent years researching and tracking the direct influences on Christians who actually showed up on Jan. 6, we contend that no single Christian leader contributed more to this effort to mobilize Christians against the very structures of American democracy than Sheets.”

Read their full Rolling Stone op-ed here.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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