A smear campaign has already gained traction against Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Since President Trump announced Barrett as his nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, opposition research took a look into her personal life to find any opportunity to derail her confirmation. Apparently, her life is pretty clean because the best oppo they could find was her not-so-exciting religious background. Democrats used this same tactic during Barrett’s confirmation to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017, with Sen. Feinstein, D-Calif., suggesting that Barrett’s faith would compromise her ability to rule objectively, ultimately resulting in a “nay” vote from the California senator.
Now, much of the focus is on not only Barrett’s Catholic faith but on her membership in a group called the People of Praise. Many of Barrett’s critics are referring to People of Praise as a cult.
But is that true?
The idea that the People of Praise is a cult comes from the mistaken idea that Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” is based on the People of Praise. Newsweek recently published an article claiming that the group inspired the novel, but as was reported in the Washington Examiner, Newsweek issued a retraction with a transparent insert of regret:
“Correction: This article’s headline originally stated that People of Praise inspired ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. The book’s author, Margaret Atwood, has never specifically mentioned the group as being the inspiration for her work. A New Yorker profile of the author from 2017 mentions a newspaper clipping as part of her research for the book of a different charismatic Catholic group, People of Hope. Newsweek regrets the error.”
Atwood’s novel is based on various dystopian novels, articles, and events from around the world, one of which is a group called the People of Hope, a separate group from the People of Praise. People of Praise refer to themselves as “a charismatic Christian community.” The group’s website provides a broader description:
“Our community life is characterized by deep and lasting friendships. We share our lives together often in small groups and in larger prayer meetings. We read Scripture together. We share meals together. We attend each other’s baptisms and weddings and funerals. We support each other financially and materially and spiritually. We strive to live our daily lives in our families, workplaces, and cities in harmony with God and with all people.”
Their website states that the group is not confined to one denomination and allows people of various denominations to join their community. They are not a church and encourage members to remain involved in their churches.
Critics claim they promote the subjugation of women. Peggy Noonan quoted Joannah Clark, a leader in the Portland People of Praise community as saying, “I consider myself a strong, well-educated, happy, intelligent, free, independent woman.” Noonan would quote her further, “We are normal people—there’s women who are nurses, doctors, teachers, scientists, stay-at-home moms” in the community. “We are in Christian community because we take our faith seriously. We are not weird and mysterious,” she laughs. “And we are not controlled by men.”
This claim of the subjugation of women is particularly suspect considering that Barrett has just been nominated to the Supreme Court and hardly fits the left’s caricature of conservative women as barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.
O.Carter Snead, a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, defended Barrett in an article for the Washington Post:
“There is no need to fear Barrett’s faith. To the contrary, her commitment to treating others with respect grows directly out of her religious convictions. But Barrett’s love of neighbor goes beyond merely treating others with dignity. In all the time I have known her, I have never once seen Barrett place her needs above those of others.”
Anyone who knows Amy Coney Barrett seems to have only good things to say about her. There are no indications that the People of Praise is a sinister cult or that Trump’s nominee would be a puppet of controlling men. These hasty allegations are yet another example of bigotry shown by many on the left towards Christianity and any hint of the biblical model of a husband as the leader of his household.
John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America reminded his readers that the Constitution states, “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
If people want to assault Amy Coney Barrett’s religious convictions, then they can go ahead and remind all Christians what the left thinks about their faith. If all that liberals have to throw at a Supreme Court nominee is that they think she is in a cult promoting the silencing of women, Barrett is going to make quick work of this confirmation hearing.