What Are the Christian Fascists Trying to Hide About Amy Coney Barrett?

| revcom.us


Editors’ Note: As we go to press, more information continues to come out about how Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, has attempted to hide her history of anti-abortion activity, along with her close and long-standing affiliations with a Christian fascist, mostly Catholic organization, People of Praise (PoP), an effort abetted by the organization itself in scrubbing mentions of her from its website. 

As we wrote upon her nomination, Barrett told graduating law students in 2006 to “always keep in mind that your legal career is but a means to an end... that end is building the kingdom of God.” In addition, in a 1998 law journal article, she took issue with the stance of former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan that in a conflict between his Catholic faith and his duties as a justice, he would be governed by the “oath I took to support the Constitution and the laws of the United States.” i.e., subordinating his religious beliefs to the law, and not allowing it to influence legal interpretation and rulings. Brennan was correctly adhering to the principle of separation of church and state (it is one thing for religious beliefs to inform personal morality, but it is a whole other thing to have it dictate interpretations of the law, applying to all people).

Leading Democrats, instead of leading the fight to expose Barrett’s religion-based misogynistic and oppressive views as part of opposing her confirmation to the Court, have conceded to the Republican position that even to raise questions about this is “anti-Catholic” bigotry. Senators like Blumenthal have said they have “no intention” of questioning Barrett in her upcoming confirmation hearings about her “religious faith or religious affiliation.” This position was echoed by Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, saying there is “ZERO” chance of asking about what he termed her “personal characteristics.”

In a recent interview with The RNL Show, the Pulitzer Prize-winning legal writer Linda Greenhouse warned that America is “hurtling towards theocracy.” This means ending the constitutional “separation of church and state” and imposing the Christian fundamentalist “vision” of “God’s kingdom” on everyone. In that light, recent revelations about Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, and her connections with People of Praise (“PoP”)—a cult-like Christian fundamentalist group—are chilling.

Amy Coney Barrett and the People of Praise

Amy Coney Barrett, now a judge (appointed by Trump in 2017) on the U.S. Court of Appeals, was nominated to the Supreme Court. As we have covered before, this immediately set off alarm bells based on what was then known about her deep adherence to Catholic doctrine opposing all abortions, a vague sense that she had links to PoP and her public record of statements and rulings. 

Since then, it has now further come out that Barrett is much more heavily involved in PoP, and that PoP is even more reactionary and “controlling” than was previously known. And that both she and PoP have systematically and dishonestly tried to hide this relationship.

PoP openly and strongly opposes abortion, as well as gay marriage, but it turns out that is the tip of an iceberg of oppressive ideas and practices.

Based on extensive interviews with present and former members, and examination of PoP documents, the Associated Press reports that PoP was formed in 1971 in conscious opposition to the liberating social and “counterculture movements” of that time which were challenging traditional gender roles and the oppression of women.

In contrast, PoP is built around St. Paul’s biblical instruction that the husband is the “head” of his wife and the wife is to “submit in all things.” According to former members, “[a] married woman is expected always to reflect the fact that she is under her husband’s authority.” This includes “providing sex on demand” to him and being forbidden to use birth control because women should bear “as many babies as God would provide.”

Leadership is hierarchical and male dominated. Some women (until recently known as “handmaids”) are assigned to lead other women, but these handmaids are subordinate to PoP’s all-male leadership. One former member said that she was instructed to share her innermost feelings with her “handmaid”—who then “repeated what she said to the male heads, who would consult her husband on the proper correction.” Members are encouraged to “speak in tongues,” and then their gibberish is “interpreted” by male leaders and “relayed back to the wider group” as guidance.

Almost everyone who remains in the group for more than six years takes an oath (“covenant”), which includes, “We agree to obey the direction of the Holy Spirit manifested in and through these ministries [i.e., PoP] in full harmony with the church.” [Emphasis added.]

Barrett was brought into PoP as a child and has belonged for decades. She and her husband lived in a PoP house while in law school in the 1990s. In 2006 she attended a PoP women’s leadership conference; in 2010 she was a PoP “handmaid.” Her father sat on PoP’s all-male national leadership. Her mother was a handmaid in the New Orleans chapter. Amy Barrett was on the board of a Christian school connected to PoP in which most classes were segregated by gender.

Barrett and People of Praise Deliberately Concealed Their Connections

PoP is clearly an enormous influence in shaping Barrett’s view of the world, and quite possibly her life decisions. And yet:

  • In 2017, Barrett was required to give written responses to questions about her personal and professional life as part of being confirmed to the appeals court. This included: “List all professional, business, fraternal, scholarly, civic, charitable or other organizations” that she had belonged to since law school. According to the AP, she did not mention belonging to People of Praise, nor the affiliation of the school on whose board she sat with PoP.
  • She filled out a very similar form in 2020, and again “forgot” to mention PoP.
  • Barrett has repeatedly and for years “declined” to discuss PoP or even confirm that she had a relationship to it, and PoP has likewise refused to affirm or deny her connection.
  • In 2017, before her confirmation hearings for the appeals court, and at a time when she was reportedly on Trump’s “short list” for future SCOTUS appointments, PoP began scrubbing their website of any mention of Barrett, even deleting birth announcements of her children.
  • In 2020, after Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, PoP stepped up this effort, including deleting all copies of their own magazine from their website.

Despite Barrett telling graduating law students in 2006 to “always keep in mind that your legal career is but a means to an end ... that end is building the kingdom of God,” Republi-fascists claim that even to ask questions about PoP amounts to “anti-Catholic bigotry.” And key Democrats have already capitulated to this, saying they have “no intention” of questioning Barrett about her “religious faith or religious affiliation.” For the Democrats to abandon this line of questioning in advance is indicative of their overall inability and unwillingness to stand up to the fascists—the Christian fascists in particular—and is an urgent reminder of the need not to rely on the Democratic Party or on just voting, but instead for people to take up the call of Refuse Fascism, to be out in the streets in massive and growing numbers to drive out this regime and end this nightmare.


"Because of the cataclysmic devastation that the fascist government of Germany wrought on the world, our attention has tended—and rightly so—to focus on the twelve-year period that it was in power. During that period, James Luther Adams—one of the revered theologians of my generation who taught at Chicago and Harvard—went to Germany as was then the tradition among all newly-minted PhDs where he pursued post-doctoral studies. Adams saw the clash of the church with German fascism first-hand. A quarter-century ago, as he watched the emergence of the religious right in this country as a political force dedicated to 'taking back the nation for God,' Adams said to his students that they would find themselves having to fight 'the Christian fascists' in this nation. He warned that the American fascists would not come wearing swastikas and brown shirts. The American variety, he said, would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance."


Reflections on Pacific School of Religion's Response to the Religious Right

by Dr. Hubert Locke

Read more



Get a free email subscription to revcom.us:

Volunteers Needed... for revcom.us and Revolution

Send us your comments.