Amy Coney Barrett Proves It: Freedom Is Weird

By John Zmirak Published on July 4, 2018

Who would be the best Supreme Court choice to replace the amorphous moral blob we call (for convenience’s sake) “Anthony Kennedy”? Honestly, I dunno. Given the makeup of the court at the moment? I’d like to make it more representative by appointing an Evangelical Christian. Ideally, I’d like to troll America’s intolerant secular Left by picking someone who gets slain in the spirit by Benny Hinn. But we live in an imperfect world.

All kidding aside. A country with a Protestant majority should have a few faithful low-church Protestants on the court. You know, alongside the secular liberals, burnt out ex-Catholics, and varying shades of Thomists. I’d love to see an orthodox Jew appointed, too — talk about mastery of the Law!

When I met my first Protestant at Yale, I almost asked him, “How do you like our country?”

I’m not sure if any of the candidates on Trump’s short list belongs to an Evangelical church. But given their share of the U.S. population, their historic role in building up our country, and their outsized importance to Trump’s coalition, I think at least one voice on SCOTUS should have that background. Maybe next time. (More visible Evangelicals would help poor kids like me, who grew up in provincial Queens thinking everyone was either Irish, Italian, or Greek. When I met my first Protestant at Yale, I almost asked him, “How do you like our country?” Of course, it was his country!)

The Handmaid’s Tale That Wags the Dog

One of the leading candidates, who’s attracting a lot of support, is Amy Coney Barrett. She’s not an Evangelical, but she is a Catholic who belongs to an ecumenical, charismatic group that includes Catholics and Evangelicals.

The People of Praise is a small, voluntary group of adult Christians who work together for spiritual betterment. It doesn’t have compounds. Or hoard guns. Or abuse children. Or keep anyone against her will. But like most intense organizations, to outsiders it looks a little … weird.

All These Voluntary Groups … It’s Creepy

Not as weird as the Freemasons. They have secret rituals that entail taking oaths of silence supposedly punishable by death. Yet they provided many of our nation’s Founders and presidents. The Washington Monument? A Masonic obelisk. The lidless Masonic eye watches us from our money.

Not nearly as weird as Skull and Bones, an elitist Yale secret society that conducts adolescent skeleton rituals in a tomb-like building on campus. That group gave us both Bushes, John Kerry, and also William F. Buckley. Make of that what you will.

Nor as weird as the Mormons, whose belief in spiritual polygamy, personal planets in the afterlife, and ritual underwear, combined to produce a figure as exotic as Willard Mitt Romney.

Clutching Pearls of Wisdom

But People of Praise is offbeat enough that a snotty reporter like Laurie Goodstein can manage a pearl-clutching hit piece in the New York Times. She wrote (if you can hear her over all the liberal dog-whistles):

Members of the group swear a lifelong oath of loyalty, called a covenant, to one another, and are assigned and are accountable to a personal adviser, called a “head” for men and a “handmaid” for women. The group teaches that husbands are the heads of their wives and should take authority over the family.

Current and former members say that the heads and handmaids give direction on important decisions, including whom to date or marry, where to live, whether to take a job or buy a home, and how to raise children.

Free Association: A Menace

Over at Slate, Ruth Graham does a much more responsible job of reporting on People of Praise. She explains:

Group members often make an effort to live near each other in certain neighborhoods. Single people sometimes live with families, and there are some households of single men or single women living together. Members pledge to donate 5 percent of their gross income, and many give more, with the idea of supporting fellow members.

After about six years of participation, members can opt to commit to living in the community permanently, a ceremony that consists of pledging to attend weekly meetings and, as Lent paraphrased it, “to care for each other physically, financially, materially, and spiritually.” The term handmaiden was chosen in 1971, 14 years before Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, to evoke the Biblical Mary’s description of herself as a “handmaid of the Lord,” or a woman who has an important relationship with God. “It has acquired worse resonances, and all we were looking for was a neutral term,” Lent said, explaining the recent change to “woman leader.”

Shocking stuff. Shades of Jim Jones and the Bronies.

Alexis De Tocqueville observed in the 19th century that groups like this were what kept American liberty ordered. Unless you want the State to step in and micromanage every aspect of life, you need citizens who’ll control themselves.

In fact, People of Praise is one of those “small battalions” of independent organizations that make up civil society. Alexis De Tocqueville observed in the 19th century that groups like this were what kept American liberty ordered. Unless you want the State to step in and micromanage every aspect of life, you need citizens who’ll control themselves. And hold each other accountable. Criticize each other, using social opprobrium to blunt the edges of human sin and conflict — instead of incessant lawsuits, and the guns and jails of the State.

The Left Wants Neither Liberty Nor Order

The only alternative to a society full of distinctive little groups like People of Praise is a full-on nanny state, like the ones in Western Europe. There you can go to prison for making fun of Muslims, or making a stupid video on YouTube where your dog does a Nazi salute. Because no society can serve without mores and morals.

The left prefers a single, monolithic set of values that the State imposes by force. That’s why liberals are so offended by groups like People of Praise. It’s bad enough that they’re orthodox Christian in their teachings. But much, much worse is the prospect that someone other than the government is telling people how to live, and they’re just doing it willingly. Bullying, busybody statists resent such blatantly unfair competition.

That’s why wherever socialism takes over, religious schools and churches either dry up or simply get seized. Private charity shrivels. Private clubs and civic organizations fall under suspicion, and fold their tents. In fact, the only thing that doesn’t wither away is the State. Which is pretty much the opposite of what socialism’s founder, Karl Marx, predicted.

Words Have Meaning

Beyond the crass violation of the State’s monopoly on ordering people’s lives, what really gets the left about Barrett is her careful Constitutionalism, her deference to actual texts of laws. And her respect for the meaning of words and phrases in the context that they were written. She would never, I suspect, look into the Civil Rights Act, and find between the lines that the lawmakers in 1964 meant to make homosexuals a protected class. Not given the context, which was that sodomy was then illegal in 49 of 50 states.

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The fight right now comes down, in the end, to abortion. That’s the Moloch who gave us the covenant called the Sexual Revolution. Cut off the ritual sacrifice, and he stops the flow of cheap, bad, litigious sex. The non-Christian natives of Pentecost Island have long understood such causal relationships. If they didn’t go bungee-jumping, the gods would stop sending them yams.

Would Barrett vote to give the life issue back to the grubby, deplorable voters? Or would she bow before the strange god that is Precedent, which once guarded segregation and anti-miscegenation laws? We don’t know, which unsettles me a bit.

The Democrats Will Immolate Themselves

But we do know that if Barrett gets nominated, the attacks will focus on her religion and her family. You see, she bore five children, and adopted two. That shows an unhealthy tolerance for living, intact children. Along with her membership in People of Praise, it proves that the “dogma lives loudly” in Barrett. And that dogma isn’t Moloch’s.

The Democrats won’t be able to keep their pants on. They will spend the run-up to the November elections sliming a brilliant, appealing woman for having kids and going to church. Both of which, last time I checked, are common practices, even in blue states.

Maybe President Trump ought to throw us into that there briar patch.

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  • Chip Crawford

    Yeah, Molech; ain’t that the truth. Few mention that obvious connection. Unfortunately, Ms. Feinstein’s own “dogma” lives loudly in her state mate, Ms. Waters. Must be; she doesn’t say anything against it. We need more quiet, measured voices like Ms. Barrett to explain why some of us don’t care to live in Babylon. If she is not chosen, I hope she will speak up and speak out. Others please begin to do the same.

  • Rick

    I agree, it is weird that no Protestants seem to be on the list. But Prof. Barrett seems like she’d be a constructionist judge. I suspect many recent “invented rights” would not be seen in her reading of the constitution.

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Perhaps the resistance would prefer a transgendered “woman” so called who regrets “she” never enjoyed the experience of empowerment a legally sanctioned abortion would provide. One who “worships” at the alter of progressive self indulgence & bows her head before the “gods” of Darwinian theory . The likes of Sanger, Marx & Mao …

  • Ineverleavecomments

    I feel like too much news these days- (between the pervert bishops (McCarrick) and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal -which I had forgotten existed) comes from 1990s Wanderer news articles.

    I’d like to be the a-hole and ask the ugly, inside Catholic baseball question: isn’t this group heretical? What am I missing here? What did Fr. Hardon have to say about this (Peopel of Praise) or other groups? I thought Catholics shouldn’t simulate a “sacrament” of the Holy Spirit in their home? If they want to be like Protestants then just leave the Church already? I thought fhe Charismatic Movement was a gimmick to keep Midwesterners from fleeing terrible NO Masses for Evangelical churches. I think my notion of this group is shaped by charismatic Masses from the Midwest in the 90’s ( never in a million years would I expect you to be talking about anything related to this-CCR in a positive way). I feel like there is a simple, nuanced answer to this and haven’t seen it spelled out anywhere yet.

    I hope I’m missing something. I think there is a super tiny group of Catholics who are going to say the dogma doesn’t live nearly loudly enough in this Catholic woman *bc* she is in this charismatic group.

    Finally, I am a member of a Catholic women’s accountability group and everyone’s husband is too (some of whom are non Catholic). This is sometimes more of a social club that prays the rosary and has play dates than anything else, but our purpose is to work on our spiritual lives, marriages and get everyone’s family to heaven.

    I think it’s fantastic this lady does not live in an isolated bubble in her community but has taken clear and intentional steps at Christian community building (hell, If there were more Evangelicals around here I think they would only improve our little club of Catholics).

    Happy Independence Day! Stay cool!

  • Patmos

    “But People of Praise is offbeat enough that a snotty reporter like Laurie Goodstein can manage a pearl-clutching hit piece in the New York Times.”

    It’s not the substance of their target that offends progressives, but rather their own useful idiocy that gives rise to offense. Case in point: The numerous videos on YouTube where a person goes around asking young people (i.e. progressives) what they think of Trump’s policies, only to then read them a list of Obama’s policies, which these fools then promptly reject because they are presented as Trump’s.

    Stupid in young people has always been there, but combine that stupid with thinking they should rule the world and you get today’s useful idiot.

    This isn’t going away any time soon either, and will probably only get worse. I think the best that can be hoped for is a flattening out of the downward trend. Unraveling decades of progressive foolishness is a ton of work, so roll up your sleeves.

    • I think you’re largely right, but we may be at something of a crossroads that could at least mitigate the worse part into the near future. The left has controlled the culture for almost 50 years now (longer really), and they’ve thus controlled the narrative of what “liberalism” is. Those are the people that care, are tolerant, bla, bla, bla. The service that Trump has provided is to unmask the il-liberalism at the heart of modern liberalism. They are relativist totalitarians in the mold of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and other tyrants. But since this has always been masked by the culture and feckless Republicans and so-called conservatives, the cultural narrative won out, and they had more political power than they could ever deserve. I think they are starting to forfeit that political power. It started with the Obama overreach and his desire to “fundamentally transform America,” and it seems to be picking up steam. We’ll see, but if they lose the courts, they’ve really lost it all. They can’t get their left-wing policies enacted via actual votes.

  • History All the TIme

    Informative, but the smug, self-satisfied tone makes it hard to read, or stomach.

  • Bin Trantum

    Its exciting. Hafta admit. Awesome woman.

  • PursueJustice

    Liberals are the reason we need a bill of rights. Our forefathers were geniuses to come up with the system we have. They must have foreseen the Schumers, Pelosis, Obamas, and Clintons would try to lead the country into tyranny. Many, if not all, politicians need to be sent to the worst country in the world for a year before they can serve (oh what a misnomer that is) in our government. Venezuela or North Korea would be nice testing grounds for them.

    • Andrew Mason

      Or would regressives shred a bill of rights and reinterpret it in their own image? Consider how grounds for SSM were found in the Constitution, and how courts are finding religion isn’t protected in cases where it’s untouchables v privileged groups.

  • michael

    That group could be bad . It depends on how strictly they enforce their rules .that is what makes a cult. That said it would be interesting to see how she would rule.

  • Sapient

    Well, it’s a fallen world. Among a cast of imperfect candidates I’m happy to settle for the most committed Constitutional Originalist.

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