Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s affiliation with obscure Catholic charismatic community People of Praise is sure to come up during senate confirmation hearings that start today, in particular because of the organization’s ultraconservative views on women. But others say scrutinizing Barrett’s beliefs and relationship to the organization would be anti-religious bigotry.
People of Praise is not a church, but more like a denomination or faith community. It was founded in 1971 in South Bend, Indiana, growing out of the Catholic charismatic movement rooted in Pentecostalism that began in the late 1960s. The group emphasizes a personal relationship with Jesus and can include baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and prophecy. People of Praise now has 22 branches and around 1,700 members across North America.
The AP has published a detailed look at Barrett’s relationship with People of Praise, including that an old directory listed her as being one of the organization’s “handmaids,” now called a “woman leader.” She was a trustee of the group’s Trinity Schools, and as a young law student, lived in a house owned by one of its co-founders.
Among People of Praise’s teachings are that men are divinely ordained as the “head” of both the family and faith, and it is the duty of wives to submit to them. Some former members told AP of practices such as leaders deciding who can date who.
The group emphasizes community. People of Praise encourages members to live in the same neighborhoods. Single people often live with families in the community or together in same-gender communal households, where they pool resources or even turn their paychecks over to be shared. People who join the community must sign a “covenant,” in which they pledge love and service to fellow community members and to God. Members agree to give at least 5% of their income to the community.
It’s worth reading the AP’s deep dive. But what this faith affiliation will ultimately mean for Barrett’s potential confirmation to the Supreme Court is yet to be seen. Either way, it’s an interesting look into her theology and faith involvement over the years.