What Under The Banner Of Heaven’s Title Quote Means For Dan’s Demise
WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Under the Banner of Heaven episode 4.
Under the Banner of Heaven episode 4 finally sees its characters mention the title scripture quote, with the line meaning far more to Dan’s demise than simply his polygamous interests. The true story of Brenda Lafferty’s murder explores the dangers of religious fanaticism, delusions, and fundamentalist beliefs, with the killers using Mormon scriptures as validation for their crimes. While polygamy was outlawed nearly a century before Under the Banner of Heaven’s story takes place, Dan Lafferty becomes increasingly obsessed with following the original practice, as justified by a Mormon prophet John Taylor’s 1880 polygamy-defending address.
When Dan and Robin go to a farm in Colorado City, they come into contact with fundamentalist Mormons, who continue to practice polygamy and various other fundamentalist beliefs against the laws of the United States government. When Dan signals interest in polygamy, the Under the Banner of Heaven Mormon fundamentalist responds with the quote: “God is greater than the United States, and when the government is in conflict with heaven, we will be arranged under the banner of heaven against the Government. The United States says we cannot marry more than one wife. God says different.”
The quote was meant to defend the Mormons’ previous practice of religion in the 1800s, but the “under the banner of heaven” section has much broader implications for Dan. As Dan’s descent into fundamentalism continues throughout Under the Banner of Heaven’s story, he’ll keep using the sentiment of fighting for his heavenly pursuits to justify any heinous crimes or illegal acts he commits. Under the Banner of Heaven‘s Dan Lafferty has already exhibited that he’s apt to use the Book of Mormon, The Peace Maker, or teachings from early Mormon prophets like Joseph Smith as an excuse to defy any U.S. governance he dislikes. Whether it be taxes or monogamy, Dan uses the notion that he’s fighting for heaven’s acceptance and God’s will to justify his disobedience of such laws.
Not only does Dan believe that following such long-outlawed beliefs will secure his place in heaven, but he also subscribes to the idea that he’s protected from persecution while “under the banner of heaven.” As such, the further Dan descends into his fundamentalist ideals, the less he’ll fear any repercussions or feelings of guilt for his actions, as he’ll claim that they were all just under God’s will. With Under the Banner of Heaven episode 4 already seeing Dan pull the other Lafferty family brothers into his dangerous crusade, there will soon be dire consequences for those who defy them, with the biggest opponents being their wives.
While Dan’s only response to the title “under the banner of heaven” quote was that he recalled it came from John Taylor, his muted reaction doesn’t mean it won’t have a profound impact on his actions. Dan is headed down a dark path in Under the Banner of Heaven, which is all the more worrisome when considering he’s the prime suspect for Brenda’s murder in the series’ 1984 timeline. The true story of Dan Lafferty is even more disturbing than depicted in Under the Banner of Heaven, with his heinous acts supported through the implications of the show’s title quote.