Inside People of Praise
It's not a cult but not exactly mainstream, either.
Ruth Graham and Sharon LaFraniere’s New York Times feature “Inside the People of Praise, the Tight-Knit Faith Community of Amy Coney Barrett,” is well worth the read. It’s the first really nuanced look into the group I’ve seen. It’s decidedly fair-minded and non-alarmist.
Because of the nuance, it really defies excerpting so I commend it to you in its entirety. But here are my takeaways:
- Barrett was raised in this community and her father his risen to be part of its 11-member leadership council. This has likely been widely reported elsewhere but I had somehow come away with the impression she joined it while an undergraduate at Notre Dame.
- I don’t think it’s fair to think of this group as a “cult,” even though that had been my impression. Or, at least, if it qualifies as a cult so do the Mormons, the Amish, Mennonites, Haredi Jews, and other extremely communitarian groups that practice folkways that are different from the mainstream.
- The group’s view of women is old-fashioned but frankly not much different from any other conservative religious tradition.
Yet, at the same time, I must admit to finding the whole thing a little creepy. The whole arrangement is just too invasive and depersonalizing for my instincts.
By all accounts, Barrett is a superstar legal mind. Even her fellow Supreme Court clerks, including those who worked for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, found her extremely impressive. And, leaving aside her views on abortion, contraception, and LGBTQ issues—which are hardly out of the mainstream for even ordinary practicing Catholics—she seems to be a genuinely decent and giving human being.
The Constitution prohibits “religious tests” for government offices. Liberals would quite reasonably be outraged if, say, Joe Biden named a hijab-wearing Muslim woman to the Court and conservatives objected on the basis of her faith. Yet, I can’t help but find Barrett’s lifelong enmeshment in this group unsettling.
“And, leaving aside her views on abortion, contraception, and LGBTQ issues—which are hardly out of the mainstream for even ordinary practicing Catholics—she seems to be a genuinely decent and giving human being.”
Yes, leaving aside her willingness to force women to become pregnant, send women to prison if they have an abortion, and sentence gays to a life in which they are unable to share in the most basic expressions of their existence, she’s really a nice person! We should definitely put her on the court because of that, and if that causes millions of Americans to suffer under laws that only a small percentage of citizens agree with, heck, we owe her that just ’cause she’s such a swell kid!
@wr: By that logic, practicing Catholics and, indeed, most religious people are disqualified from judgeships.
Beyond that, the courts aren’t supposed to serve as a super-legislature. No state would ban contraceptives today even if Griswold were overturned. The Full Faith and Credit Clause would require gay marriages be recognized everywhere even if Obergefell were overturned. If Roe were overturned, some states would likely ban abortion. But it’s nearly impossible to get an abortion in those states now.
If husbands are enjoined to correct their wives, may a wife correct her husband if she feels he’s going astray?
@CSK: Even in the strictest, most paternalistic traditions, wives offer advice to their husbands in private.
I think @wr: covered it. I would only add that once again we are being told that someone is brilliant, a rock star, a genius! The conventional wisdom in Washington is conventional all right, but very seldom wise or accurate.
If she were the moral paragon she’s supposed to be she’d withdraw her nomination. She’s participating in an unfair, divisive power play meant to ram right-wing religious opinions down the throats of a population that does not want it. And, it is fervently hoped by her sponsor, she will help him steal the election and end American democracy.
She’s a grubby careerist doing whatever it takes to advance her career, and a nut to boot. Brilliant my ass.
The world cult has extreme negative meanings in modern times because of Jim Jones and others. It’s not inherently a bad word or concept. As per wiki, the definition is “social group that is defined by its unusual religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or by its common interest in a particular personality, object or goal. ” However, there is a difference between a cult and a sect; a major distinction is cults do not typically seek integration or acceptance of the greater whole while a sect is still in the process of breaking away from the mainstream but still wants to be considered mainstream.
Your example of Moromism isn’t correct because they were definitely a cult when they started. They were definitely a cult of personality in regards to Joseph Smith and viewed themselves as apart from Christianity by being the final complete version of it. It’s only been in the last few years when they’ve gotten big and powerful enough that they’ve stopped being a “cult” and are now a “religion” Much like with Christianity proper, the dividing line there is sheer power both political and social; Christianity stopped being a cult once it got the official Roman seal of approval.
The problem is she seeks to apply that “old-fashioned” view on a modern world that doesn’t want it. Her religious beliefs should have NOTHING to do with her jurisprudence but this cult makes a point of teaching that it absolutely does. It obligates her to taint her rulings with her personal convictions and to make choices not in line with proper legal thought but her group’s preferred outcome.
She cannot be a good judge because she has gone out of her way to join a group and stay with them that affects her ability to do her job. This isn’t JFK being asking he is in allegiance with the Pope; this is one of the People’s Temple being given a lifelong appointment to the SC and we’re not supposed to notice they’re in Jones’ inner circle and run the White Night gatherings. She’s an extremist by choice and proud of it. Extremism by definition doesn’t belong under Justice’s blind aegis.
Sure. But she doesn’t get a mandate to do so. Nor is the husband confined to correcting his wife in private, as far as I can tell.
Ahahahahahahaha, James come on, I was drinking my coffee! Don’t make me laugh like that!
Are you %$*^%$ being serious right now? Of course they would. The ENTIRE POINT of all of this nonsense is for them to impose their “old fashioned” religious views on a secular country that doesn’t want it. Yes, they’re going to get rid of every damn thing that displeases them because they can and you can’t stop them. That’s why they push the logic “BC = abortion”; when they eventually get their way, the seed’s been planted and they can just keep going along with their agenda. What are you gonna about it – states’ rights!!!!!!
They’re trying to ban BC *now*, James. Maybe it’s only certain versions of it but the underlying false premise applies to all BC because that’s how troll logic works. It doesn’t have to make sense to you or even be theologically sound or grounded. Just what they “believe”. They want Obergefell gone and they didn’t honor civil unions done back in the day. If you got a civil union in New Hampshire and went back down to Georgia, they didn’t accept it under Full Faith and Credit but rather found ways around it. For instance, hospitals wouldn’t recognize you as family in emergencies and by the time lawyers would get involved, it would be too damned late. That’s where the whole “personal beliefs in the workplace” got really got roaring- “I don’t accept this as legal because my personal beliefs override Constitutional agreements on whether this is counts as marriage”
Moreover, we’re telling an entire new generation of citizens that rights are *conditional* – conditional on who you are, where you live and whether someone has the right to decide if your right “counts”. Taking away any right in this country is a dangerous proposition and telling folks “hey, the old fashioned folks wanted it this way” is a good start for some old fashioned civil unrest and rebellion.
Most religious people including many Catholics practice birth control, many are OK with same sex marriage, few seek to rescind the ACA, etc.
We do not know when she had COVID-19, “last summer” might be pretty recent. If you look at photos of the Rose Garden event with the COVID-19 infections identified, they are mainly in the front and clustered around the row where her seven kids were seated. I say it’s possible she and/or her kids were “patient zero” at that event. If she had disclosed her COVID-19 situation earlier that would have tanked her nomination.
I agree with Reynold’s view stated elsewhere that religion is a gateway drug to broader irrationality. I agree with @KM: that whether or not her group are a cult is a question of what “cult” means, and that properly understood, it is. I agree with James that we should not apply a religious test, however that cuts both ways. Barrett would be the sixth Catholic on the Court, seventh depending on how you score Gorsuch. Somebody is applying a religious test.
Like the Republican Party, the forced childbearing and anti LGBTQ stuff is just the faux populist face of Barrett. She will be a disaster on these issues, but more importantly she’ll also be a disaster on money in politics, the environment, regulation generally, taxation, and voting rights. If seated before the Biden Inauguration she will do her damndest to throw the election. She really is a cult member. the Federalist Society meets the definition of “cult” quoted by KM above. The Federalist Society will happily destroy democracy in pursuit of a libertarian wet dream of maximizing liberty, liberty for their owner, Charles Koch. McConnell isn’t prioritizing her confirmation above all else because he likes her.
@James Joyner: “Beyond that, the courts aren’t supposed to serve as a super-legislature”
Oh, they’re not supposed to! That reassures me. We’ve certainly seen that Republicans never ever ever ever do anything they have the power to do but aren’t supposed to.
She is actually an extreme example and avatar of the core conflict that American politics are polarized around:
One side being normalization of the view that men hold all the important jobs while the little ladies are tasked with staying barefoot in the kitchen and pregnant and
the alternate view that women have (or at least should have) equality of opportunities.
But having the Supreme Court say gays can marry doesn’t stop those wanting to treat them as second-class citizens from finding ways to do so, either.
As noted in an OP posted previously on this blog, Barrett is being “appointed by an impeached president who lost the popular vote in 2016 and may well continue in office after losing it again in 2020. She will almost certainly be approved by senators representing less than 45 percent of the American population.”
Her religious beliefs are immaterial. At issue is her appointment being a perversion derived from minority rule. If she’s is indeed a brilliant jurist, the next Republican president can appoint her. She’s only 48. She’d only be 60 when Kamala finishes her second term.
@James Joyner: “.. but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”. This phrase is from Article VI of the Constitution which requires legislators and judicial officers to take an oath to support the Constitution. By its plain meaning and historical origins it means nothing more than the person taking the oath or making the affirmation to hold office shall not be required pledge fealty to any deity or religion. It also by implication would mean that holding certain religious beliefs or being a member of a religion is not a bar to holding office. What it does not mean is that a person seeking public office cannot be questioned as to whether those beliefs will affect that prospective office holder decision making. The Constitution does not guarantee any person a position of public trust because religious beliefs. It only means that religious beliefs are not legal bars to holding office. It is certainly fair game to use any previous public comment or writing to judge not only whether that religious belief will affect the decision making but whether the applicant’s answers are credible. Admittedly some ways to handle this are better than others and Senator Feinstein’s reference to “the doctrine” wasn’t the wisest choice of words.
Most Catholics use birth control, and a quick reminder here that Vatican II came close to allowing it. They settled on the “right to follow conscience” on the topic, which most Catholics decided to interpret as permission. When Humanae Vitae came out in 1968, Catholics were surprised at the outright ban. And promptly ignored it.
American Catholics get a lot of grief for following “cafeteria Catholicism,” but people do what works for them.
If I had any confidence that Amy Coney Barrett’s religious views were similarly separated from her decision-making processes, I probably wouldn’t be so concerned. I am unnerved by her participation in this sect, which is definitely outside of mainstream American Catholicism.
And there absolutely would be states that would try and outlaw birth control, especially the Pill. Not just Plan B, but all BC pills are considered abortive by some religious groups (they aren’t, but let’s not allow science to get in the way).
Honestly, I think the fact that the Court is overwhelmingly Catholic and Jewish has more to do with the pathways we’ve created than anything else. That Comey would be the only non-Ivy Leaguer is actually more shocking than that she’s yet another Catholic.
Moving goalposts, James. We’re talking about legal recognition. Before Obergefell, Full Faith and Credit Clause did nothing to stop states opposed to the idea from passing laws specifically banning the practice and not accepting legal action performed in other states. Hell, even Bradacs and Obergefell had to point out that Full Faith and Credit Clause was *not* being honored and that’s part of why they were suing in the first place! If civil unions had been treated the same as marriage by anti-SSM individuals (legally and not), then there wouldn’t have been such a national push over the issue.
Moreover, we’ve seen that conservatives have clearly embraced the governing principle of Might Makes Right and straight up ignoring legal principles, precedent and norms they don’t like. There is a very good chance they’ll decide that since they have their Handmaiden on the SC, they can do as they please because any challenge that manages to make it there is DOA. They have destroyed the public’s confidence and trust that they can and will abide by these Constitutional principles in the past and have no inclination to do so in the future. If somebody keeps punching you in the head despite the school not allowing it and the teachers turning a blind eye, why in God’s name would you think they won’t punch you when expressly given the power to??
I get that you really don’t want to think the worst of your party but when someone shows you we they are, believe them.
James, I think you are glossing over a few important items:
– Someone’s religious beliefs ABSOLUTELY should be considered relevant. As an extreme example, a Christian Scientist’s belief that only God can heal and medicine is sinful disqualifies them from serving as the head of the FDA or the CDC.
– Barrett is a member of an extreme religious sect whose members must accept “guidance” from church officials in even the most intimate details of their personal and professional lives. Will she accept such guidance on court cases? This is not a “gotcha question”. It’s been reported that she was required to get her Handmaid’s approval on her college choice, on her career choice. It seems logical that she would be required to seek such approval before deciding on, say, an abortion case.
– To me, one of the differences between a sect and cult is secrecy. The People of Praise keeps their internal workings, rites, rituals and practices secret. This secrecy is concerning and is not typical. Want to know what the mainline Catholic’s teachings and practices are? There are a thousand ways to find out. Same goes for mainline Protestantism or Judaism. People have every right to be suspicious of members of secretive organizations
– The history of these radically conservative organizations within the Catholic Church is extremely troubling. Just look up “Maciel” and the Legions of Christ. Or Opus Dei. Or such groups association with the death squads in Latin America.
There’s an old joke: what’s a religion? A cult plus a hundred years.
They’ll try to spin it as “religious test” but when you deliberately and defiantly drag your religion into it, it’s fair game. Religious test means you couldn’t exclude someone on the basis of their faith alone, not point out any batshit thing they insist on believing in especially if it’s outside the norm of your faith. If she is required to accept “guidance” aka instruction, she’s out period. That’s undue outside influence. This isn’t asking a pastor for spiritual advice or confessing your sins; it’s literally “what do you want me to do?” and then following it. Her group doesn’t tolerate deviation from the “guidance” so it’s not advice, it’s orders.
On the other hand, if they promote her so she’s in a high enough position that she gives “guidance” instead of getting it, now we have a cult ring-leader on the SC. They won’t since she’s a woman and naturally falls under the authority of a man to them but if they did, it would be like putting David Miscavige up there for life. Maaaaayyyyybbbbeee think about it a little more conservatives, hmmm?
@James Joyner: “The Full Faith and Credit Clause would require gay marriages be recognized everywhere even if Obergefell were overturned.”
James, consider who is President right now. Then look at the right’s ‘religious liberty’ scam.
If a SCOTUS nominee announced that she believed in leprechauns, unicorns and goblins and claimed it was her religion, would anyone doubt that we’d sure as hell be considering her religion?
Christianity is every bit as insane. In fact, it’s not just insane, it’s depraved, a conspiracy of idiocy built around the central premise that the Creator was incapable of finding any way to forgive the very creatures he made, except by nailing his son to a cross. It’s a mad death cult. But it’s a familiar mad death cult, so ho hum.
But objectively speaking? Rationally speaking? It’s batshit. And this woman’s extra helping of batshit should indeed be disqualifying.
@KM: What she said! Several thousand times.
And would add that if you run across anyone — ANYONE! — who is strongly against abortion they are always — ALWAYS — equally but quietly opposed to at least some birth control methods.
And also add that seriously Christian people feel deeply the Great Commission to go forth and convert the world until everyone worships Him. Whatever professional qualifications may be laid on top of this are secondary.
@JohnMcC: It is just not abortion but anything to do with reproduction. The ultimate goal is to define life as beginning at conception. Beside birth control, guess what else is attacked. Any kind of assisted reproduction. Like In-Vitro Fertilization which generates excess fertilized eggs. They don’t want to talk about that implication either.
I have a crazy busy day so I will make this quick, but in a fairly short post James you used the terms creepy and unsettling, so maybe you are not as comfortable with this SC Justice pick as you think you are.
I would also like to note that someone such as ACB is going to be against the traditional exceptions to abortion that conservative used to support as being compassionate. Things like rape an incest have become increasingly unacceptable as the characterization of abortion as murder goes on. The radicalization on conservatives on this point means someone who wants to overturn Roe, Griswold or any other cases would find it acceptable to have a complete ban with no exceptions. No exceptions means no states being allowed to make their own decision about this because why would they allow a state to legalize murder? “States will allow it if federal protection goes away” is the same line of thought from the 90’s that gave us “states can decide SSM if they want” and guess what happened? We got DOMA – a federal ban on something that *should* have been a states’ right thing by their own logic but they saw some states decided wrongly.
She’s not going to be OK with just overrturning a case. She’s help write a dissent that paves the way for a federal ban or personhood initiative. She’ll go out of her way to get rid of what she’s called a barbaric process because she’ll finally have the power to do so…. and it’s what she wants to do. Say bye-bye to BC and IVF – both abominations to her faith. The plan is to impose Gilead Lite and considering she’s part of the group that was based on and has been for decades, it’s suicidally naïve to expect her and her ilk to stick with old talking points and norms from over 30 years ago.
Quite right. If they refuse to tell us what they are, it’s only prudent to assume the worst. I assert above that Barrett’s membership in the Federalist Society is the cult membership we should worry about. They are also quite secretive.
@KM: It seems to me, and I could certainly be wrong about this, that if she really believes that the “old fashioned ways” were better her that she wouldn’t have the career trajectory that she has chosen. To my take, she’s just another example of people who want you to live some specified “divine way.”
@wr: Why is it that conservatives are always concerned that the courts “not act as a super-legislature” when the nation is facing a problem that Congress should address but for which it has repeatedly declined to do so? Is there something about a dysfunctional status quo that works to their advantage?
@inhumans99: You may have a point, but I see Dr. Joyner as a guy for whom “creepy and unsettling” but right wing makes an acceptable combination. The right wing-ness will cancel out the creepy and unsettling–at least for the issues that are important to him personally.
I’m Trans and I started my transition about 8 years into my marriage to a very Catholic Cis woman. I joke she’s a fundamentalist Catholic because she actually goes to church (in non-covid times). Our two children go to Catholic school. Absolutely no one at church/school has so much as blinked at my transition. I deal with a lot of Catholics and the only one that has had any issues with me, my “Trans-ness” or my transition except for my mother-in-law. The best I can tell, ACB’s views on LGBT issues are outside the mainstream of Catholic thought and are much closer to my MiL’s.
As for Griswald, I’m an attorney and I am scared out of my mind that Griswald is on the list of precedent to get rid of. Griswald is the bedrock of the right to privacy and the right to define your own existence. Griswald is what protects my right to receive the lifesaving medication that I need. I am so scared about Giswald and Roe going away that I’m contemplating surgeries that I DO NOT WANT.
Its easy for you not to have to think about things like this, and I don’t blame you for not doing so. But I don’t care how much of a genius ACB is, Justice Thomas is quite smart as well, they are both evil and actively hostile to me. I refused to cheer for either of them. I’ll ask you what I ask all my Conservative friends, why do my rights as an American depend on what state I happen to be present in?
Setting this aside for a moment, also problematic in ACB’s nomination is the rushed nature of it. NBC is reporting that she neglected to disclose her work on one of the largest nonprofit/hospital bankruptcies in US history, saying she didn’t feel her work on the project was “significant.” In the request to list the top 10 most significant litigated matters in which she had participated, she listed only three, leaving this one (and probably others) out. Note that the request is not to list those in which she played a significant role, but which were the most significant matters in which she participated.
This is justifiably being criticized not as an attempt to hide something, but as part of a rushed process.
If Sen. McConnell wants this nomination to proceed, he’d best slow it down and do it right, because the appearance of a sloppy job is just as likely to slow-roll things as is criticism.
Right. The post is in some way just musing out loud rather than taking a strong position. But, yes, I’m conflicted.
I think she’s highly qualified and accomplished. She’s very well respected by even ideological opponents in her legal circles. And the group isn’t quite what it’s being made out to be.
On the other hand, there’s a point at which difference in degree is a difference in kind. I wouldn’t object to a devout Conservative Jew or Mormon elder being appointed to the Court. I would be very nervous about an Ultra-Orthodox Jew or a Mennonite.
Is that prejudice? Maybe. But too far outside the norms of society is problematic for me if you’re going to be making decisions that bind all of us.
S he is not a Communist who would force people. Anyone who believes in Scripture is NOT forcing anyone to do anything!
They shouldn’t and don’t.
You cite Griswold. I wholeheartedly support the outcome. The notion that Connecticut was banning birth control pills strikes me as beyond asinine. But that’s clearly within the power of their legislature to do if that’s what the community wants. It’s the bedrock of our federal system. But, in Griswold, a bare majority of Justices simply made up a new right out of whole cloth, claiming they found it hiding in the shadows of other rights. Griswold begat Roe and the madness that is our national fight over the Supreme Court.
Honestly, I think abortion would be much less controversial and much easier to get nationally were it not for Roe. Everyone dug their heels in and staked their identify on it after that.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Hacker and Pierson talk about “drift”, going on without the legislature actually doing anything. McConnell’s Senate being a prime example. Drift preserves the status quo, which works to the advantage of those doing well under the status quo. Koch, using him as the face of the Billionaire Boys Club, wants tax breaks, which he’s been able to get thru Congress, regulatory relief, which he’s able to get through the administration, He wants the Court to overcome Obamacare, which he sees as increasing his taxes. Otherwise, he mostly wants nothing. No new regulation, no new taxes, and most of all, no action on AGW. The Federalist Society believes that overturning laws and substituting their views is not “activism” or “legislating from the bench” if they use originalism to claim they’re hewing to the Constitution, no matter how radical, and contrary to legislative intent, or the Founders intent, the result. There is a split in the Koch funded Federalist Society between those who want to overturn the 20th Century immediately and gradualists like Roberts who want to overturn everything incrementally. Koch needs Barrett as a hedge against Roberts.
@gVOR08: Oops, no edit function. Spell check wrote “overcome Obamacare”. I swear I wrote “overturn”, or something like it.
Do you really see a lot of daylight between People of Praise and the Hasidim in Borough Park?
The above is from far down in a very lengthy post.
Some earlier excerpts:
There is a lot more at the link, it’s pretty tl;dr
@charon: I know enough about both groups to be uncomfortable with them in positions of supreme judgment over American lives but not enough to articulate it in a way I can draw a clear line between them and other devout religious folks.
I expect you’re right. But I wouldn’t blame the Court for the subsequent controversy. Remember that at the time the decision wasn’t regarded as particularly controversial. Opposition was almost entirely Catholic, which made it clearly a matter of religious believe and thereby on the wrong side of Church/State. Then the Evangelical preachers latched onto it, rewriting their theology to do so.
Republicans were on the horns of the Conservative Dilemma, how to get votes without alienating their plutocratic sponsors. They found they could get votes by aligning themselves with the Evangelicals, who, driven by integration and the threat of taxes, were becoming politically active. Had the Court found against Roe, Republicans would still have used every cleavage to divide us. Just as a hypothetical they might have used race, guns, gay rights, tran bathrooms, and immigration. But I repeat myself, immigration is race again.
My point is that we are currently divided not so much because there a differences of opinion on social issues, but because Republicans have actively sought to divide us. Abortion is contentious because Republicans need it to be contentious.
Annnnnddd…now CNN is reporting more stuff she left off of her Senate paperwork.
For a super-genius, she isn’t great at following paperwork instructions.
It’s quite clear that if Thomas, Alito and Barrett get their way, my rights will. First, because I don’t believe for an instant that those three (or any of the other active rightwingers) will be satisfied with allowing this to be a state matter. They will absolutely allow for a federal ban on abortions, IVF and gender transition related hormone medication. They will absolutely not allow it.
Second, without a Federal guarantee that my right to access medically necessary healthcare, the legal sanctity of my marriage, employment, housing, travel, public accommodations are all at risk for me. Now, I’m a decently well off white lady who lives in IL. I can work around some of these things. What about poor black Trans people living in AL, or TX. There aren’t enough of us to effect meaningful change alone. And as you have previously pointed out, we aren’t exactly a favored minority. Its very easy for people to write us off as freaks and perverts.
Close the Federal courthouse doors to us and we won’t die (well, except for those that kill themselves), we’ll just be forced to suffer. Which, is what I suspect a lot of these rightwingers want anyway.
Seems appropriate to note that Biden and Pelosi are practicing Catholics.
@Beth: The GOPs will not overturn Roe v Wade. They’ll just allow states to impose whatever absurd restrictions they feel like. And yes, they’ll then go for some sort of national ban applicable to Blue states. A victory on abortion does nothing for Republicans, they need it as an active issue.
Too many people aren’t considering this possibility. What’s going to stop these conservatives from discovering a “Right to Life” which prohibits abortion everywhere?
Point about People of Praise: This is not Roman Catholicism, it is open to non-Catholics also.
What it is is an extremely authoritarian and patriarchal of Christianity that interprets the Bible literally, which Roman Catholicism does not.
A right to life that doesn’t include healthcare, food, clean air/water, or rights for LGBT people. I’m not convinced that these particular rightwing Justices won’t also try and gut anti-discrimination laws too.
@gVOR08: I think that’s fair.
James, this may be a little inside baseball, but that’s exactly what we heard about the Legions of Christ, for years. An incredibly influential Conservative Catholic group, with overflowing pockets spreading cash to other orders, and a pledge of “humility” that was secret in itself and contained a specific vow to never discuss scandals concerning the leadership of the order even to other members. Rod Dreher defended the founder Maciel and the other child molesters for years on that very pretext – that the order was being made out to be something it was not and it was just hysteria and anti-Catholic bigotry that was causing these allegations. Finally, even Dreher had to call it for what it was.
I don’t give a crap whether it is a Conservative Catholic group, a liberal one, a Protestant one or the frickin’ Elks Club, vows of secrecy and organized lying to protect those secrets inevitably attract those who need secrecy to shield heinous acts, no matter how innocent those intentions were at the start.
@Jen: Granting that some of these forms are ridiculous, much the way the security clearance process is, this shouldn’t be THAT hard for Barrett given that she just got confirmed to the Appeals court three years ago. Indeed, you’d think she could simply refile THAT paperwork and an amendment covering the time since she’s been on the bench.
@James Joyner: “I think she’s highly qualified and accomplished. She’s very well respected by even ideological opponents in her legal circles”
As was precisely the case with Bill Barr. All the great legal minds knew him. They all moved in the same circles and talked to the same people and went to the same schools. And so every single one of them assured us that since they knew him so well there was no way he could turn out to be anything but an honest and upstanding attorney general dedicated solely to the rule of law.
It’s this blindness that afflicts certain kinds of intelligent, well-educated people — they can’t imagine that anyone who essentially shares their life style isn’t fundamentally just like them.
Well, Barr turns out to be the most corrupt AG in history, far eclipsing John Mitchell. But now the same crowd is giving us exactly the same assurances about Barrett.
Pardon me if I’m not convinced.
These kind of omissions in disclosure paperwork strike me as somewhat silly “gotcha” hype rather than meaningful revelations or failures of candor. The missing items were fairly routine activities from quite a while ago, and she disclosed numerous other similar activities and statements, so it’s not like those omissions created a materially misleading impression of her views and activities. I mean, seriously, this latest report is about a pair of hour-long talks she gave to student groups when she was a law professor 7 years ago. Not exactly a stretch to think she just didn’t recall such banal events when she put together her disclosure paperwork!
While there shouldn’t be a religious test, religion also shouldn’t be a shield for deeply held beliefs that will be used to interpret the law.
We wouldn’t want a 9/11 Truther on the Supreme Court, or a QAnon Cultie. We wouldn’t want an environmental radical who believes that we are facing imminent extinction if we don’t halt all carbon-based energy right now. These are all people who has pre-decided a number of issues, aren’t open to arguments and new information, and who have a strong vested interest in the effects of the rulings.
I’m comfortable saying that we don’t want someone from a religious group that puts God’s Law above man’s.
A judge must be able to view the law from a mostly unbiased standpoint. From a secular standpoint. A judge must believe that it is not a sin to accept the right of other people to live in a manner that will ultimately cause them to burn in hell.
And it’s entirely fair to question whether someone who comes from a niche religious background is able to have that secular standpoint.
Barrett should be asked to name rulings she has made where her personal religious beliefs came into conflict with the law. If there aren’t any because she has only been on the court for three years, that’s a really good reason to not elevate her to the Supreme Court.
@wr: Agreed. But also, there are people who are brilliant with the law who are well qualified to be advocates, but not judges.
“Brilliant with the law” should a minimum requirement, not the only requirement.
@R. Dave: It speaks to a rushed process. As James very correctly points out, she did this paperwork three years ago. As I noted in the other comment about this, being sloppy isn’t the same as being deceptive, but it does provide a justifiable reason to slow the process down.
If McConnell wants this to go smoothly, he’d best make sure that everything is in top order. This looks rushed and messy, which absolutely makes it justifiable on the part of Democrats to say, hold on.
While your statement is not outside of my personal practice as a follower of the Scripture; it is outside of my personal experience in the ways others have acted toward me as they “followed” the Scripture.
Beyond that, forgive me for altering your words in my response to them, but “believes in Scripture” can apply to many situations where the believer has no particular relationship to the subject beyond awareness. For example, I believe in eating a balanced diet, but don’t do it nearly as well as I ought to. I believe in capitalism, but see it as greatly flawed and dysfunctional as it is practiced in the United States currently. I could go on…
What in hell are you talking about? The religious right has been pushing for years for a law that would require women who are raped to carry the fetus to term and in most cases allow the rapist parental rights.
Get it straight: we aren’t in any way, shape or form, forcing you to get an abortion. You are forcing us not to. Right? Right.
Now let’s see if you’re honest. Will you admit that this is true?
@Bet: Bet, I know you don’t expect a Catholic to force their beliefs on others, but remember: no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!
Balancing religious liberty with anti-discrimination laws is hard.
You wouldn’t require a Muslim or Jewish butcher to slaughter pigs, but there’s an expectation that Evangelical Christian bakers just suck it up and bake wedding cakes for “sinful” gay weddings.
I’m not religious, and I’m queer so one of those sinful weddings might be mine some day. But we have the balance wrong. As a rule of thumb, we should not be making people do something they will deeply resent unless there is a significant benefit to the public.
A lot of our anti-discrimination public access laws came about because of Jim Crow, and “separate but equal” being so very unequal that it limited the opportunities of blacks even in their “separate” lives. We weighed equal public access against freedom of association, and sided with equal public access. Rights came into conflict, and the courts determined a balance, and society has mostly caught up to it (like 60% caught up to it, not 100%).
But, did the courts strike the right balance? I’d be willing to experiment with tweaking that balance. I would support a law that broadens conscious clauses and religious exemptions where the damage is minimal, while simultaneously requiring that those exemptions be posted along with referrals to businesses that don’t have those exemptions. Give it five years, see what happens, tweak again.
Such-and-such pharmacy doesn’t fill prescriptions for emergency birth control, but you know that before ever picking up your prescription for your sinus medicine, and have the opportunity to go elsewhere.
Bigots R Us Floral Arrangements will not provide flowers for your wedding, and you know that when looking for somewhere to get flowers for your mother.
Forcing Backwoods Bigotted Bakery to make a cake for a gay wedding is the same type of offense as forcing gays to live in the closet — it differs on impact (it’s just a fucking cake, bigots, just bake the damn thing), but not on type. Part of living in a multicultural society is not forcing our beliefs on others when we don’t have to. The root of tolerance is tolerate, not like or embrace or approve.
Christian Scientists who want to pray away the whooping cough can go fuck themselves though. They spread disease and we have to make them get vaccinated.
In LA? Sure. In Cowpaddy, Nebraska?
If pharmacists get to decide which meds to dispense and which not, is it OK if pharmaceutical schools refuse to enroll religious objectors?
That’s an apples and oranges comparison.
You would not require a Halal or Kosher butcher to slaughter a pig. But you would require either to slaughter a lamb, cow, or chicken to be served at a same sex wedding reception.
A better comparison, and you tell me whether its fair or not, is: you would not require a church or temple of any religion, nor any officiant, to officiate a same sex marriage ceremony, but you would require a Christian baker to sell a cake for such a ceremony.
For the record, 4 days ago, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, openly signaled to their Courth Brethren and everyone else, that same sex marriage should be back on the table and open for reconsideration.
There is more to the article, but the gist is that Alito and Thomas both see Same Sex Marriage as damage to religious liberty. If this is taken up by the Court again it is not hard to imagine 5 conservative Catholics and 1 conservative protestant taking back the legal right to Same Sex Marriage.
Right now, 14 states allow pharmacists to not dispense birth control, etc. And the right is pushing for it in many others.
Pharmacies don’t have to tell you until you suddenly need something, however. I would accept defeat on the conscious clauses in general, but require posting this so customers will know. Along with a referral to someone who will do the work.
@Kathy: There is a supermarket near me where if the Muslim woman is on the checkout, she will not checkout anyone with alcohol and gets someone else to do it. That seems fine.
I mean, stupid and ridiculous, but fine.
I hate this analogy because it fails to distinguish between personal choices which don’t impact others and actually refusing service to someone. Nobody’s being discriminated against if they go into a kosher or halal store in search of ham on rye, any more than meat eaters are being discriminated against at a vegan restaurant. It’s just not what those establishments are for. That’s very different from a place that offers a particular product, but refuses to give that product to someone based on what they intend to do with it. That would be like a Jewish shop owner refusing to sell a slab of cheese because of the customer’s stated intention to go home and slap it on a hamburger. I don’t think that would pass muster in court.
Given the high costs of health care and child care, I’m not sure that is true. We (a larger “we” than just the left, “we” as in America) are certainly encouraging women in financial difficulty to have abortions.
And, if “we” attempt to balance that with government programs aimed at poor families with children, “we” (the left) are accused of creating welfare queens who have a massive brood of children for those sweet, sweet food stamps and all that government cheese.
And what is the hypothetical establishment, Bigots R Us Flowers, for? They provide floral arrangements for bigots and people comfortable with bigots. Flowers, By Bigots and For Bigots.
Being denied Flowers By Bigots is not a great harm — you can get married with less bigoted floral arrangements, or even no floral arrangements. I’d say that it is arguable whether that is a greater harm than restricting the Bigots’ freedom of association, and that the best balance for those rights may even differ over time and location.
If we accept a conscious clause for pharmacists — and in 14 states we do — I think it is reasonable to accept a similar exemption for florists and bakers and everyone less important than pharmacists.
I do, however, want people to be able to make informed decisions. If the bigots have to fly their freak flag to get the exemption, it will give you the opportunity to not create a business relationship with them, so when you need some emergency flowers for your sudden same-sex wedding, you aren’t in a bind. Or when you need emergency contraceptives, you can have the prescription sent to your pharmacy that you know will fill it.
@Matt: Wow made my entire post a quote despite the quote code being closed prior to the part I added O_o Now the buttons including the quote button have vanished.
This sounds like you’ve never lived in a rural area. Or frankly, that you’re male. BC and the morning after pill has a time component to it – that’s the *emergency* part. Forcing you to run all over God’s creation to find a place that will serve you is a deliberate attempt to waste precious time. They “accidently” send it to a place they know will say no (if they send it at all) and you go there, only to find out that place won’t do it and now the process repeats till it’s too late to be effective. If that happened in any other part of the medical process, it would be considered malicious and malpractice. Here – it’s “muh faith!!”
There are no other options in most rural places and it’s no mistake that the people pushing for this kind of thing are the ones living out there. They *know* they’re the only game in town – hell, for hundreds of miles – and still want to be able to deny you because it’s about power. If it were about conscience, then they would be thinking twice about screwing over customers with limited options…. if they cared about customers. This is about forcing what *they* believe on the world and making *you* practice what they believe. There’s not a Walgreens on every corner in most of America so when your pharmacist options are No and Hell No, what now? What good is “informed choice” when there’s no damn choices???
I think other people people have pointed out that there is a difference between forcing someone to sell something they don’t sell to anyone and something that someone won’t sell to a particular group, so I won’t beat a dead ham sandwich.
I do think you (and quite frankly everyone born after about 1970) give short shrift to how pernicious and expensive Jim Crowe was. Ok, so Bigot Florist won’t sell to you, that’s fine in LA, Chicago, NYC, where their are choices out the rear. But what about all the Queers living in AL.
Well, you might say, well they can go to Target or Walmart and get their stuff there. That’s assuming that a baker in a Costco in AL won’t refuse and then be protected from getting fired on religious grounds. Me, and I will be accused of hyperbole here, but I suspect that many of the people in power in the rural south and rural west who hate the Queers, also hate the Blacks. It’s one short hop from I have a religious exemption from helping/serving LGBT people to I have a religious objection to helping/serving Black people. You will see overtime that the major corporations will bend to the will of the local populace. Target in Chicago will continue to serve everyone, Target in rural AL will not.
Even if that is hyperbole, why should we go back to anything like that. It didn’t work particularly well the last time we as a country tried it.
@Gustopher: ” Along with a referral to someone who will do the work.”
But the winning argument in the Little Sisters of the Poor case was that forcing the poor nuns to fill out a piece of paper saying they wouldn’t allow their insurance to cover abortion was making them complicit in the act. Where does that put telling some heathen slut where she can get her murder pills?
@Gustopher: “We (a larger “we” than just the left, “we” as in America) are certainly encouraging women in financial difficulty to have abortions.”
And so the answer is… put them in prison if they have an abortion!
That certainly takes the financial difficult out of raising a child. Those Republicans are smart!!!
That’s literally the world we live in now, in 14 states. And not just the states you expect, but also Massachusetts, Illinois and Pennsyltucky.
If the pharmacy was required to post a sign on its door explaining their refusal to fill emergency birth control prescriptions in order to be protected by the conscience clause, then each time you went there to get your routine drugs, you would be reminded that you cannot rely upon them. And hopefully, you would transfer all your prescriptions to a full service pharmacy if that was important to you.
So, that would be better than the current state of the world for a lot of the country.
I would be willing to extend that to florists, etc. Because, ultimately we have to live with these people and some compromises have to be made — don’t make people do something they will resent you for if you can avoid it.
They aren’t just backwards fucktards worshipping their sky gods, they’re also your neighbors.
Sometimes, if you want someone to accommodate your dumb-ass life, you have to accommodate theirs.
@Gustopher: you’re not usually this weak in your arguments. Why would you write:
… after multiple people have told you that the alternate full service pharmacy isn’t an option for much of the country? It’s almost like writing, “If you don’t have health insurance, just go up to Canada where it’s free!” That’s not an option for most people!
I can’t find it now, but I recall some enterprising independent journalists who made calls to some of these “won’t make cake for a gay wedding” bakers, to place orders for the following:
– Celebrate my divorce cake
– Baby shower for an unwed mother
– Wiccan solstice cake
etc. And found them very accommodating to such requests.
ETA: found it! Link
You’re finally starting to get it! Oh… wait. Did you think that was a reductio?
Still waiting for someone to explain how MY marriage can somehow be a threat to YOUR religious liberty. If your religion requires you to be shitty to certain people, your religion is crap. (And is, specifically, NOT Christianity.)
@Gustopher: How did that work out in the Jim Crow era? It seems to me that businesses were just fine posting “No Coloreds Allowed” signs.
@Monala: Again, the conscience clauses for pharmacists already exist in 14 states, and there are ways to weasel out in most others — “we don’t have emergency contraception in stock, it will take 48 hours to get it”
So, that problem just exists in the here and now.
Wedding cakes and floral arrangements are way less important. I’m willing to give the bigots a bone here. Treat them like a minority and respect their beliefs while disagreeing because the harm is negligible. Just like the Muslim woman at my local supermarket who will not ring up alcohol purchases. Kind of stupid, but whatever.
@MarkedMan: Things have changed since the Jim Crow era. Attitudes have changed, we have an internet woke culture, and many, many more stores are part of national chains. If Target in Alabama doesn’t offer emergency contraception, the entire Target chain will feel the heat with boycotts — no one wants their brand associated with bigotry, except for Chik-Fil-A.
Is that enough? Maybe, maybe not. I think it is — I think that we would win because we aren’t fighting the culture war locally anymore. But it’s definitely not the same playing field.
Further, during Jim Crow, there were laws actively preventing integrated lunch counters, etc.
@Gustopher: Do you think that “giving them the bone” of wedding cakes and such would make them compromise on pharmacy conscience clauses? Somehow I don’t think so, I think it would embolden them to push for more.
@Monala: I think that a compromise where people don’t feel like they are having values shoved down their throats is in everyone’s interests.
I don’t think that allowing a religious exemption on gay wedding cakes will make the fundies any less fervent about abortion or “abortion”. But I do think it would make them feel less threatened, and it avoids making martyrs out of bakers.
The story of the baker who was sued because they wouldn’t make a wedding cake for a wedding that they vehemently disagree with is a really good story for making fundies feel like victims and showing government overreach. Politically, the right wing gets more out of it than we do.
So just strategically I think it’s a bad fight.
Healthcare, housing, jobs — those are the fights worth having.
We’re struggling on healthcare related to abortion — it’s a fight worth having because it has a very material impact on people’s lives. The conscience clauses are part of that, and we can fight a holding game on that and try to make it more transparent.
But the wedding cakes? Besides not mattering, I think it is weird and vaguely Unamerican that someone is legally required to offer their services for a religious event they find morally wrong. I wouldn’t want to have to offer my services to Scientologists or a Pray Away The Gay Church.
I think we came to the wrong balance when dismantling the Jim Crow laws and then applied that to everything else up to and including semi-religious services. A much, much less wrong balance that the Jim Crow laws, don’t get me wrong there, and a needed overcorrection at the time, but… we should have a slightly higher standard when interfering with deeply held (typically religious) beliefs.
I wouldn’t require that all gynecologists perform elective abortions. I wouldn’t require all bakeries to make all cakes.
Similarly, if I worked for a large company with government contracts, I would expect a reasonable accommodation of a transfer to another team if my team got a giant ICE contract dropped on it.