Media outlets have been working hard to find something scandalous about Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. One focus has been her affiliation with the Christian group, People of Praise, and certain outlets have attempted to link the group to “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a dystopian novel in which women are subjugated and forced into submissive gender roles.
This is a bigoted attempt to smear both Judge Barrett and People of Praise in order to make people fearful of the prospect of Judge Barrett on the Supreme Court. I can assure you, there is nothing to fear.
For six years, I attended one of the three schools run by the People of Praise, Trinity School at River Ridge in Eagan, Minnesota. During that time, I also participated in a two-week mission trip to an impoverished neighborhood in Louisiana and worked as a camp counselor at the yearly summer camp hosted by the People of Praise.
The People of Praise model is not particularly complex: members participate in weekly prayer and community meetings and often live in neighborhoods together, further strengthening their sense of community. The community is an eccumenical Christian organization that strives to follow the example of the “first Christians who were led by the Holy Spirit to form a community.” According to their website, since the group’s founding in 1971 in South Bend, Indiana, People of Praise has grown to around 1,700 members in 22 cities across the US, Canada and the Caribbean.
In my experience, individuals involved with the People of Praise community are generous, kind individuals who strive to build a Christian community with a remarkable focus on working and living in poor neighborhoods throughout the country. For example, when I participated in the mission trip to Shreveport, Louisiana, the trip participants went into a community where People of Praise members were living year-round and ran a summer camp as well as doing various manual-labor projects for neighborhood residents. The community has now founded an elementary school in the same neighborhood.
But despite this positive reflection on the People of Praise, Judge Barrett’s involvement with the community should not be a consideration. The Constitution says that “no religious Test shall ever be required as Qualification to any Office or Public Trust under the United States.” And Judge Barrett herself has spoken to the impartiality of judges when during the hearings after her nomination to the federal bench in the 7th Circuit Court: “It’s never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions, whether they derive from faith or anywhere else on the law.”
Indeed, Judge Barrett said in her remarks following her nomination by President Trump: “If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle, and certainly not for my own sake. I would assume this role to serve you. I would discharge the judicial oath, which requires me to administer justice without respect to persons, do equal right to the poor and rich, and faithfully and impartially discharge my duties under the United States Constitution.”
Those who oppose Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court will find many ways to attack her personally, and already have, but attempting to link the People of Praise to “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a disingenuous smear campaign.