In a country of over 325 million people we are faced with the nomination of a person to be one of nine people who will interpret the laws of the United States who belongs to a group of about two thousand people called the “People of Praise.”
It is not so much that she belongs to that group that had me wondering about her it is that as far as I can tell she hid her membership in it when she was before the United States Senate in 2018 when she was being questioned about a position on the Court of Appeals, the second highest federal court in the land. That article quoted M. Cathleen Kaveny, a professor at Boston College Law School who studies the relationship between law, religion and morality who said: “I’m concerned that this was not sufficiently transparent. We have to disclose everything from the Elks Club to the alumni associations we belong to — why didn’t she disclose this?”
Not only did she hide her membership there, it is reported: “In recent years, it removed from its website editions of a People of Praise magazine — first those that included her name and photograph and then all archives of the magazine itself.” there have been reports that the People of Praise tried to erase any traces of her membership. There has even been a refusal by the group to tell whether or not she is a member when clearly she is one.
What is the People of Praise? Its small membership is reminiscent of the People’s Temple which eventually ended up in Jonestown, Guyana, which had as a leader Jim Jones who led his people in a mass suicide where over 900 died. Although it seems to be far from that as best we can tell at the moment, it is important to understand the nature of the group to which she belongs.
I say that because she may not be a free agent. She may be directed by the leaders in her group to decide issues in a certain way not based upon the laws of the country but upon the whims of her leaders. Despite disclaimers that will happen, it is important to assure oneself that it cannot happen.
I suppose we must try to determine what is the “People of Praise?” It appears to be a group of individuals who possess the same beliefs which are the man is the head of the household and the woman’s purpose is to serve the man. The leadership of the group is male. The women, at one time referred to as handmaids, have their own group but it is subject to the male leaders directions.
The first thing to do I figured was to try to separate the chaff from the wheat. I went to its site on the internet. It tells us it is: “a charismatic Christian community. We admire the first Christians who were led by the Holy Spirit to form a community. Those early believers put their lives and their possessions in common, and “there were no needy persons among them.” While supposedly embracing all major forms of Christianity it is mostly a Roman Catholic group having among its membership priests and endorsements by bishops. It should not be surprising then that the male leadership is the model of the group because the Roman Catholic Church is a male leadership organization that makes the rules for others.
Exploring her membership in this group will be exploited by Republicans who will tell us that we are intruding into her religious beliefs in discussing this. That is not so; it is not her membership in a religious group that will be questioned but her beliefs in how that membership will affect her decisions. Will she really be a free agent or will she be guided by some unknown hand telling her how to act?
Will she decide laws based on her “charismatic Christian” beliefs as seems to me must be necessary and if she does is that bad? As I see it lifting the curtain and only having the slightest peek at the “People of Praise” it is a group of white Christian people who want to live in such a way that resembles the manner in which the monks lived sharing goods among themselves, celebrating their beliefs peacefully, attempting to do some good in the world helping others, and being organized, as many religious groups are, with a male leadership that directs the actions of others who freely accept the rules.
I believe Amy Comey Barrett will take her Christian charismatic beliefs with her in deciding the future of the laws in America. I do not see anything pernicious about them. But as I said, I only have had a slight look at her group. I would like to know more about it. I would like to know if she understands the diversity of America and what is good for a group of 2,000 people may not translate into being good for all Americans.