Supreme Court Nominee Barrett Tied to Group That Subjugates Women to Their Husbands
Amy Coney Barrett, nominated by Donald Trump to assume women’s right champion Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat, has close ties to a charismatic Christian religious group that believes men are divinely ordained as the “head” of the family and faith, according to a report Tuesday morning by The Associated Press (AP).
The group, People of Praise, teaches that wives must submit to the will of their husbands, according to former members.
Barrett has not commented publicly about her own or her family’s involvement with the group. The AP report indicates that “a People of Praise spokesman declined to say whether she and her husband are current members. But Barrett, 48, grew up in New Orleans in a family deeply connected to the organization and as recently as 2017 she served as a trustee at the People of Praise-affiliated Trinity Schools Inc., according to the nonprofit organization’s tax records and other documents reviewed by The Associated Press.
AP also reviewed 15 years of back issues of the organization’s internal magazine, “Vine and Branches”, which has published birth announcements, photos and other mentions of Barrett and her husband, Jesse, whose family has been active in the group for four decades. On Friday, all editions of the magazine were removed from the group’s website.
On its website, People of Praise says it was founded in 1971 in South Bend, Indiana and has “grown into a community of about 1,700 members. We are currently in 22 cities across the US, Canada and the Caribbean.” It’s a movement that grew out of the influence of Pentecostalism, which emphasizes a “personal relationship with Jesus” and can include baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.
Those who support Barrett’s nomination say that questions about her involvement in People of Praise is anti-Catholic bigotry. But others familiar with the group and charismatic religious groups like it say it’s appropriate to examine her involvement in it before she receives a lifelong appointment to the Supreme Court.
“It’s not about the faith,” Massimo Faggioli, a theology professor at Villanova University, told The AP. He says a typical feature of charismatic groups is the dynamic of a strong hierarchical leadership, and a strict view of the relationship between women and men.
Several people familiar with People of Praise, including some current members, told The AP that the group has been misunderstood. They call it a Christian fellowship, focused on building community. One member described it as a “family of families,” who commit themselves to each other in mutual support to live together “through thick and thin.”
But the group has also been portrayed by some former members, and in books, blogs and news reports, as hierarchical, authoritarian and controlling, where men dominate their wives, leaders dictate members’ life choices and those who leave are shunned.
The AP report continues: “People involved in People of Praise can choose to make a lifelong covenant pledging love and service to fellow community members and to God, which includes tithing at least 5% of their gross income to support the group’s activities and charitable initiatives and following the teachings and instructions of the group’s pastors, teachers and evangelists.
“It’s unclear whether Barrett took the covenant. But members of the organization and descriptions of its hierarchy show that members almost invariably join the covenant after three to six years of religious study or they leave, so it would be very unusual for Barrett to continue to be involved for so many years without having done so.”