Saturday, September 26, 2020

Handmaiden Nominated for Supreme Court

Amy Coney Barrett, nominated to replace Justice Ruth Ginsberg, is a member of the group People of Praise. This ecumenical, but mostly Catholic, group subscribes to non-Catholic theology in their belief that husbands are the "head" of the family and wives "handmaidens". 

I'm being a bit unfair with the "handmaiden" label. In 2017 when Ms. Barrett was nominated for her first judgeship on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals the leader of the group People of Praise, Mr. Lent, said the group’s system of heads and handmaids promotes “brotherhood,” not male dominance. He said the group recently dropped the term “handmaid” in favor of “woman leader.” 

Catholic doctrine does not teach "male headship", which is a belief held by some evangelical sects.

"Male headship" contradicts Catholic doctrine which states that in the mutual relationship of man and woman in marriage -

The woman cannot become the "object" of "domination" and male "possession".

The group People of Praise also believe in prophecy, speaking in tongues, divine healing and most troubling - discriminating against some of God's children, namely LGBTQ people.

This snippet from a South Bend Tribune article is illustrative of the groups treatment of LGBTQ people, specifically a young woman named Flannery who joined the group at 18 -

When she returned to South Bend after graduating, she was allowed to transfer to the South Bend branch. At that time, Flannery was realizing that she was lesbian or at least bisexual. During a women’s group meeting, she talked about her “big life change” and how she had met a woman she was interested in, and she was struggling with the fact that she no longer identified as straight, she said.

“I did not ask them to approve of what I did or to pat me on the back and say ‘good job,’” she said. “I just needed to tell somebody so I could talk about it.” 

Flannery said she was shocked to learn that the women then reported what she said to her leader, who, a few days later, called her to a meeting at her house and said the women “were very uncomfortable that you were talking about that.” 

“She said, ‘Either you never mention this again, or you leave.’ I said, ‘I’ll leave, I don’t want to live like that.’” 

Not commenting specifically on Flannery’s case, Lent said the group would end the membership of a person who admits to homosexual activity, or any other “ongoing, deliberate, unrepentant wrongdoing.” He said the group believes that only married people should have sex, and only men and women should marry. Homosexual attraction is not sinful, but acting on it is, Lent said. 

Aside from the group’s views on homosexuality, Flannery said she “absolutely” would have been concerned if Barrett had received the Supreme Court nomination.

I don't know anything about Amy Coney Barrett - she sounds like a good person from what I've read. Looking at a group like People of Praise as an outsider doesn't tell me what it's like to be in the group interacting with it's members. It has some aspects that sound appealing to me but there are other aspects that sound quite disturbing. I don't  have any issue with people joining non-traditional religious groups it's just that I'm not sure if being a member of a group like People of Praise should not be disqualifying for anyone wanting to be a judge in secular society or at least that a member of that group should be questioned and explain how her membership does not skew her ability to be an impartial judge.