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On the Washington Post’s People of Praise Confusion

Judge Amy Coney Barrett attends a meeting with Senator Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 1, 2020. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

As Rich Lowry noted earlier this afternoon here on the Corner, the Washington Post has just published an article that the paper seems to view as a blockbuster, detailing Amy Coney Barrett’s involvement with the Christian charismatic community People of Praise.

This article is only the latest in a series of pieces focusing on People of Praise since Barrett’s name began being floated for the Supreme Court opening. Reporters thus far seem unable to find a more potent way to villainize Barrett than to point out her leadership role in a group whose members, among other nefarious activities, donate 5 percent of their annual income to the community and “meet regularly for spiritual, social, and service projects.”

In their nearly bottomless ignorance of religion, reporters from the Post and other supposedly neutral outlets seem unable to grasp that People of Praise isn’t a misogynistic cult, that the word “handmaid” comes not from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel but from the Bible, and that these Christians use the term not to subjugate women but to invoke Mary the Mother of God — the most famous and most revered woman in history.

In other words, the practices and beliefs of People of Praise are neither sinister nor shocking, and Barrett’s purported membership in the group is evidence of little more than her desire to live out her Catholic faith intentionally with the support of a like-minded community.

These attempted hit jobs reveal that almost no one in the national media manages to attain an even somewhat sophisticated understanding of Christianity before reporting or opining on the subject. Routinely, articles such as this one in the Post present the fact that a public figure embraces the basic tenets of Christianity as though this is an earth-shattering and disqualifying revelation. Though the religiously illiterate members of the press might believe otherwise, Barrett’s membership in People of Praise is not proof that she is poised to impose a regressive, anti-science, anti-woman theocracy through her role on the Court.

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