Sunday, July 8, 2018


Some of the concerns that the biased Yahoo article states about the charismatic People of Praise community are similar to concerns I and others had about the charismatic Alleluia community in Augusta. Both were born at the same time, were originally a part of the Jesus Freaks hippie communal life of the 1960's with a strong authoritarian streak with lay members called "heads" wheeling that authoritarianism towards their lay subjects. The heads required submission from those they headed. It is called "headship and submission" and is fraught with the potential for promoting the susceptibility to abuse of all kinds including sexual abuse.

They also practiced "deliverance"to expel demons by name from those they presumed were oppressed or possessed.  This too was fraught with opening those "delivered" to tremendous emotional and spiritual abuse as well as manipulation.

A goodly number of the community members were members of my parish in Augusta and I voiced my concerns to that community consistently over the almost 14 years I was there, from 1991 to 2004. There are indeed cult like aspects to this community.

However the community in Augusta has matured over the years, the children of the original members are better grounded in their Catholic faith and less protestantized than their parents were with their unbridled ecumenism with fundamentalistic Protestant Pentecostalism.

They have cleaned up their act, I hope, in terms of headship and submission and the use of "deliverance" which is the Pentecostal form of exorcism.

This community has also provided numerous vocations for the Diocese of Savannah. They are politically conservative, doctrinally and morally orthodox but liturgically and devotionally Pentecostal or Protestant and progressive.

Who are the ‘People of Praise’ that Supreme Court contender Amy Coney Barrett belongs to?

Jon Ward
Senior Political Correspondent

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Screengrab via Federalist Society YouTube, Getty Images)
The appearance of Judge Amy Coney Barrett on President Trump’s shortlist of candidates for the Supreme Court has turned a spotlight on the small, previously obscure religious group she belongs to and sparked a contentious shouting match between those asserting “She’s in a cult” and those answering, “No, you’re a bigot!”
Skeptics of Barrett’s involvement with a group called People of Praise, which has roughly 1,700 members, mostly but not exclusively Roman Catholic, have questionedwhether the group has demonstrated cultlike elements. Barrett’s supporters have charged back that delving into the details of her spiritual life is reminiscent of the anti-Catholic bias that has haunted American politics in the past.
But with this crucial difference: In the 20th century, Catholic political figures, including presidential candidates Al Smith and John F. Kennedy, were suspected of harboring a secret loyalty to the Pope. Barrett’s Catholicism, per se, shouldn’t be an impediment to her nomination or confirmation. Anthony Kennedy, the justice she would replace, is a Catholic, as are four other incumbents, including the chief justice, John Roberts.
But People of Praise is a lay group, outside the church hierarchy, formed at a remarkable moment in American religious history in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was at the vanguard of a cultural and religious phenomenon that ultimately became known as “The Jesus Movement” and was featured on the cover of Time and Life.

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Many Christians view this time as a bona fide revival, a unique manifestation of God’s power, similar to the Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries.
This context — the intensity and earnestness of that time — helps explain some of the more esoteric and sometimes concerning elements of religious practice that have been attributed to People of Praise. The group’s public reticence has contributed to accusations by former members that it attempts to influence the lives of its members in ways that in the past have crossed over into control and manipulation.
Even in one of the most rigorous critiques of Barrett’s group — a 152-page bookletwritten in 1997 by a former member named Adrian Reimers — there are numerous references to the powerful experience that swept up so many young people of faith during that time.
Reimers notes “the strong sense of euphoria that permeated the movement, not only in South Bend, [Ind.,] but all across the country.
“It seemed that the Holy Spirit was carrying us along, that all we had to do was to respond to His manifest leadings,” Reimers wrote of that time.
And Reimers describes “charismatic Masses, prayer meetings and large rallies” in which participants felt “an almost tangible sense of communion.”
“Standing in a large arena full of fellow Christians singing and praising God in unison, it is easy to imagine that Christ himself is there embracing all and ready to welcome them into his Kingdom,” Reimers wrote.
What is striking about People of Praise is that unlike many charismatic Christian groups of the time, its members tended to be highly educated.
“It is a mistake to see these groups as populated with dysfunctional misfits looking for sure answers to uncertain times and a firm guiding hand through a perilous world,” Reimers wrote. “Rather they are usually highly motivated and idealistic, wanting for themselves a deeper life of faith and also an opportunity to serve Christ and the Gospel more completely.”
“Covenant community, with its demands offered a chance for Christian heroism,” he wrote.
The tradition of intellectual and academic rigor is carried on by the Trinity high schools founded by People of Praise communities in places including South Bend, Northern Virginia and the Minneapolis suburbs.

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But Reimers also shows what he considers a darker side to People of Praise, a controlling and unhealthy environment for people who committed themselves to the community. All members were assigned a “head” to advise them, and because the group believed itself to be divinely inspired and directed, this structure of personal oversight often became oppressive and intrusive.
This was most clear in the way that wives were told to submit to their husbands.
“This teaching, that the husband is spiritual head or pastor to his wife, is one of the most firmly held and foundational teachings in that community,” Reimers wrote. “The wife, as a good member of the community, has a prima facie obligation to obey her husband as the bearer of God’s will. In practice, this means that the two do not — indeed, cannot — relate as equals. His will reveals God’s to her, whereas her will is merely human. The two cannot meet as equals, because the husband always has divine authority on his side.”
Barrett, 46, a mother of seven children, was confirmed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago last October, after 15 years as a law professor at Notre Dame. Barrett is married to a federal prosecutor, Jesse Barrett, who is listed by the Notre Dame law school as a 1996 alumnus. He has served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Indiana since 2005.
Despite insinuations by Barrett’s opponents, it’s unclear what impact her membership in People of Praise would have on her jurisprudence. There have been intimations that because members of the group have depended so heavily on the counsel of their assigned “head” in the past, Barrett’s decisions in key cases would lack independence.
One of Barrett’s defenders, fellow Notre Dame law professor Rick Garnett, wrote last fall during her confirmation hearings for the 7th Circuit that “it is not inappropriate, for senators to question judicial nominees … about their understanding of the judicial role and their views about the relationship between a judge’s religious commitments (if any) and his or her understanding of that role.”
But during her hearings, Garnett said many Democratic senators relied on “activist groups’ willful misrepresentations of a nominee’s (20-year-old, co-authored) law-review article as the basis for repeated … charges regarding the nominee’s views.”
At issue was a 1998 paper written by Barrett when she was a law student when she and another student argued that in a small number of cases, judges might be obligated to recuse themselves from death penalty cases if they felt their faith conflicted with a legal obligation to impose the death penalty. But, they wrote, “judges cannot—nor should they try to—align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge.”
With Barrett’s People of Praise connection now under the microscope, conservatives like David French believe that a lack of familiarity with Christian practice is making innocuous elements of regular spiritual life appear nefarious. “Why do some progressives single her out for particular scorn? It turns out that she’s a faithful Christian who lives a Christian life very similar to the lives of millions upon millions of her fellow American believers,” French wrote.

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Similarly, John Inazu, a professor of law and religion at Washington University in St. Louis, argued that the original New York Times story from the fall of 2017 exaggerated the importance of a promise that People of Praise members make to devote themselves to the community. “Such oath-taking is common across a variety of religious traditions,” Inazu wrote.
Pledging one’s self to a religious community, Inazu said, is something that builds “on longstanding practices of fidelity and accountability present in all of the great wisdom traditions. At their best, these practices guide adherents toward honesty, humility and charity.”
Yet many questions do remain unanswered about Barrett’s role in the group. She said on her Senate questionnaire for confirmation to the 7th Circuit that she was a trustee of a Trinity School. And there were photos of Barrett in the magazine, Vine & Branches, published by People of Praise. But the link to those issues of the magazine were removed from the Internet and are no longer available, the New York Times reportedlast fall. It is not even clear how long Barrett has been affiliated with the group.
When I asked the group’s current leader, Craig Lent, about whether the group continues to practice control over members’ lives in the ways described by Reimers’ paper, he declined to talk on the phone.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with interviews over the past several days and I’m going quiet now to get some work done,” said Lent, who is a physics professor at Notre Dame. He added that the critiques leveled by Reimers came from someone who said he left the group in 1984.
Lent has not said much publicly about the degree to which People of Praise has changed or evolved since its early days. He told the Chicago Tribune that the group is “big on personal freedom.”
“Obey your conscience. The only person you can control is yourself,” he said. And Lent told the National Catholic Reporter that the religious community is “always growing up in the Lord.”


Joseph Johnson said...

I pray that the president selects this lady!

TJM said...

Wonderful woman and jurist. That's why the evil, fake catholic left fears her.

rcg said...

If her judicial reasoning is sound she should be confirmed. Attempting to exclude Catholics from the Supreme Court is the same mistake as trying to forcibly include them.

Anonymous said...

i remember the charismatic groups from the Jesus Christ Superstar days. I recall hearing about their prayer group, and about their speaking in tongues. My first impression, especially abut speaking in tongues, was "that's not Catholic." I stayed away from it. Some referred to me as not being Catholic, though think that was because I still viewed the Church from a pre-Vatican II mentality. The only part of the new Mass I enjoyed was it being in English. This isn't related to that judge candidate, but I have not heard any type of scholastic description of these charismatic groups in the priestly blogosphere. Maybe this is a good time to explain the charismatics of the 1970's to people today.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

5 Justices are Catholic, 4 are Jewish. If anyone has been trying to keep Catholics off the court, they are failing miserably.

With Kennedy's departure there is one less Catholic.

Kavanaugh and Barrett are Catholic.

Anonymous said...

"What is striking about People of Praise is that unlike many charismatic Christian groups of the time, its members tended to be highly educated."

This is different from the one charismatic group I was thinking of joining at one time.

These were not bad people -at least they did not give me that impression, but there was something different there. One could not be blamed for detecting what seemed to me to be a sort of gnosticism. I did not confront them about anything because I couldn't prove that the Spirit was not working in them in a unique sort of way. It is definitely a different kind of spirituality.

Anonymous said...

If I’m not mistaken, a majority of the Supreme Court is now Catholic, or perhaps was before Mr. Scalia s demise. No ones been kept off the court because they’re Catholic.

qwikness said...

Is Ave Maria, Florida kind of like these communities?

qwikness said...

Fr. Kavanaugh,
That seems like a selective statement. Catholics are not being discriminated against but the degree to which they adhere to their Catholicity.

Anonymous said...

qwik - I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

The bishop of Springfield (as in the "Land of Lincoln" Springfield) wrote a column recently reminding hometown pro-abortion Dick Durbin that the Constitution precludes a religious test for office---in the event she is nominated. Diane Feinstein (another reliable pro-abortion senator, as just about every Democratic senator is these days) expressed concerns about her rulings being guided by "dogma" when she was nomination for current position. Be interesting to see the fireworks tonight that will result regardless of whom Trump picks for the court.........

TJM said...


Bishop Praprocki of Springfield is both a civil and canon lawyer. He has also barred fake catholic Durbin from receiving Holy Communion (reputedly the dumbest lawyer in Springfield before he held elective office). Too bad other cardinals and bishops don't have the guts to do so.

Anonymous said...

A Supreme Court Justice must be guided by law and precedent, not by dogma. A candidate who puts his/her faith ahead of the law is not a worthy candidate for the bench.

In an odd twist, were a president to nominate a candidate for the SCOTUS because of his/her religious beliefs, while excluding those who did not share those beliefs, he/she would be violating the "No Religious Test for Office" rule him/herself.

This is not a "religious test for office." Rather it is a requirement of the job.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

qwik - I wonder if they are not being judged (or, if you prefer, discriminated against) on the basis of their adherence to the law and precedent.

That would be, I suggest, entirely appropriate, given that the job opening is a seat on the Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

Fr K (1:35pm)

Then you should have been disqualified for ordination as a Catholic priest.

TJM said...

Here is a link displaying how the Dem's really feel about abortion: God Bless Abortions:

fake catholic laity and clergy's "dream girl." I guess this loon is supposed to be a "comedian"

DJR said...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said... 5 Justices are Catholic, 4 are Jewish.

Only 3 of the present Supreme Court justices are Jewish: Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan.

All the rest are baptized Catholics. However, Gorsuch, although baptized Catholic, attends a Protestant church.

TJM said...

I understand abortion drooler and fake catholic, Pelosi, will be avenging Obama by opposing Kavanaugh, a real Catholic, even though she doesn't have a say, constitutionally. She must keep the abortion lobby's funds pouring into support fellow evil Democrats. The woman is batsh-t and Archbishop Cordileone should take a cue from Bishop Praprocki of Sprinfield and bare this evil woman from receiving Holy Communion (and eventually a Catholic burial). If he can't man up, he should resign and become a greeter at Walmart.

Anonymous 2 said...


Judging all Democrats by the over the top performances of Michelle Wolf is rather like judging all Republicans by the over the top performances of Donald Trump, whereas “some, I assume, are good people” (irony alert).

Moreover, the author of the (apparently appropriately named) “Hot Air” piece you linked is just as awful in his own way as Michelle Wolf is in hers. Specifically, he invites readers: “If pressed for time, skip to 4:45 below and drink in the final 90 seconds.” Yes, I bet he does—because, of course, he does not want his readers to put the “proof texted" segment into the entire context, which he does not address at all in the piece. And so, for example, he does not want his readers to read Wolf’s criticism of the “pro-life” movement:

“Wolf also had a message for those who call themselves “pro-life,” saying that “pro-life is a propaganda term that isn’t real, like healthy ice cream . . . .” She prefers the term “anti-abortion,” which she equated to “anti-woman.” If they were really “pro-life,” she argued, they would be “fighting hard for health care, child care, education, gun control and protecting the environment. . . . But these anti-abortion people do not care about life, they just care about birth.”

Now Wolf’s criticism is clearly unjust for a certain percentage of the “pro-life” movement, but I suspect it is quite just for another certain percentage. It is definitely a common criticism of the “pro-life” movement and one that the movement needs to answer. And this criticism, and various other things Wolf says, puts her “performance” in the “proof texted” segment in a rather different light, doesn’t it? Here is a link to the article from which I extracted the passage quoted above:

The best would be for readers here to watch the entire video linked in the articles (it is only 6½ minutes long) if they can stomach the vulgarity.

In sum, tiresomely yet one more time, we see that context is very important. The willful disregard of context through such selective proof-texting is yet another symptom of the lamentable disregard for the truth that infects our age and poisons our political discourse, just as Wolf and Trump are symptoms of how coarsened this discourse has become.

TJM said...

Anonymous 2,

It's YOUR party which is growing more unhinged and violent daily. Nuff said

John Nolan said...

I have met the odd Catholic Charismatic over the last forty years or so. My initial reaction was that they combined hysteria with heresy and that there was no guarantee that their falling about and spouting gibberish was due to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; indeed the prevalence in some pentecostal groups of amateur exorcism (a highly dangerous practice) suggested inspiration from a more malign quarter. The critique of POP by Adrian Reimers is both cogent and balanced; if POP claims the critique is now out of date it needs to say how and why.

Barrett's adherence to this cult, rather than her Catholicism, seems to be the issue here; that, and the paper she co-authored twenty years ago regarding capital punishment. I found the article interesting, since hitherto I was not aware that judges had any discretion in the matter. When we had capital punishment, once the jury had found the accused guilty of wilful murder (after 1957 the more restricted category of capital murder) the death sentence was mandatory: 'I must now pass the only sentence allowed by the law'. The conviction could be appealed, but not the sentence.

The Home Secretary, who exercised the royal prerogative of mercy and who had the last word could, and often did, commute the sentence to life imprisonment (in those days only 10-15 years), and this was entirely at his discretion. Someone with a conscientious objection to capital punishment would presumably have declined the office, since he would have known in advance what it entailed.

Anonymous 2 said...


My Party? Is that your best shot?

It seems you are incapable of non-binary thinking. Just because I am not a Republican who worships the Great Leader as you do does not mean I am a Democrat. So, for the umpteenth time—I am neither a registered Republican nor a registered Democrat and indeed am disgusted with both parties. In any event, I refuse to abdicate my independence of political thought to a political party.

I surmise that you trot out this lame taunt yet again because the Handbook from Cult HQ tells you to do so when you have no response to an argument.

Anonymous 2 said...

John Nolan:

You may be interested to read this 2002 article by Justice Scalia. He too expresses the view that a judge with a conscientious objection to capital punishment should resign from the Bench:

Anonymous said...

Trump promised to be America’s dealmaker in chief, touting his “extraordinary” ability to negotiate. But so far – whether he’s dealing with foreign governments or with Congress – Trump has shown that he can’t make a deal. Here’s the list of no-deals:

1. No deal with North Korea. Following his summit with Kim Jong Un, Trump declared on Twitter that “there is no longer a nuclear threat” from North Korea. But in fact, there’s no deal. Kim conceded nothing on weapons and missile programs. Recent satellite imagery shows the North is actually improving its nuclear capability.

2. No deal on Nafta. Mexico and Canada won’t budge.

3. No deal with China on trade. Instead, we’re on the brink of a trade war with China, which is retaliating against U.S. tariffs.

4. No deal on steel and aluminum imports. Europe has imposed retaliatory tariffs on several products exported from the U.S. to Europe.

5. No deal to save jobs at Carrier. Since Trump promised to save jobs at Carrier’s Indianapolis plant, the company has outsourced hundreds of jobs to Mexico.

6. No deal on Syria.

7. No deal on Russia. Even though Trump and Putin will soon meet, Trump has given away any bargaining leverage by playing right into his hands.

8. No deal on Iran. Trump announced America’s exit from Iran nuclear deal. Since then, no negotiations.

9. No deal on climate change. Trump simply pulled out of the Paris accords. There have been no negotiations since.

10. No deal on Cuba. Last year, Trump reinstated travel and trade restrictions on the island nation lifted by the Obama administration, promising to strike a better relationship. Since then, talks have gone nowhere.

11. No deal with Group of 7 leading economic powers.

12. No deal on DACA or immigration. Trump promised to sign what he called a "bill of love" to extend protections for DREAMers. No deal.

13. No budget deal. Trump promised he wasn’t “going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.” But he has proposed cutting Social Security disability programs, Medicare, and Medicaid, all while increasing the federal deficit. So far, no deal on any of this.

14. No deal on replacing the Affordable Care Act. Trump and the Republican Congress never agreed to a new plan.

15. No deal on gun control. After the Parkland shooting, Trump promised to tighten background checks for gun buyers and said he’d consider raising the age for buying certain types of guns. Instead, he bowed to the NRA.

E Pluribus Unum said...

Sometimes no deal is the best deal. Although sometimes things can work out, I don't believe it is good policy to make a deal which gives oneself an accomplishment to proclaim, with in the end, little to show in the way of good effect, and in some cases more harm done than good.

It take two to tango. There are deals that in what is agreed to is good, but become bad because one or more of the parties fail to abide by what was agreed to.

Iran and Climate change: Mr Trump's assessment was that these were bad agreements so he pulled out. This was his prerogative. Whether his decision turns out to be bad or good, at this point is just opinion. Where is the evidence that subsequent to the agreement reached with the previous administration, Iran has changed its behavior to the good? Have you not read about the troubling actions of that country in the region?

Syria? What do you propose that the U.S. do to get Iran out of that country? Or Russia? This was just one more bad thing among many inherited from the previous administration.

North Korea? Too early to tell. Up to this point, there has been a more realistic approach than under previous administrations. We entered into deals with North Korea before. We got burned. Deals are not always good. China is the problem here.

Affordable Care Act? Do I need to remind that there is a lack of political will and courage in Congress? This definitely needs to be revisited since the cure turned out to be worse than the disease.

Cuba? They are the problem, not us.

No deal on Nafta. Mexico and Canada won’t budge. Of course not - they will not give up easily on what is a very good thing for them.

No deal with China on trade: ditto above. It comes down to who needs the other the most.

Do some good.Pray for our President.

Anonymous said...

"Mr Trump's assessment was that these were bad agreements so he pulled out. This was his prerogative."

Sure, it is his prerogative, but what was his decision based on? Not science, but economics.

What good came from the JCPOA took place? "The IAEA certified that Iran had met preliminary requirements, including taking thousands of centrifuges offline, rendering the core of the Arak heavy-water reactor inoperable, and selling excess low-enriched uranium to Russia. Since then, the IAEA’s quarterly reports have found Iran in compliance with the JCPOA’s requirements."

"North Korea? Too early to tell."

Not according to the President it's not. "Everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!"

Now, everyone knows this was pure hogwash and self-aggrandizement. And we have seen in the subsequent visit to N Korea by the Secty of State just how hogwashy it was. A man who talks like that is dangerous.

Cuba is hardly a problem. Sanctions have been in place since a month after I was born - over 60 years ago. Did they result in any change in government, or were the sanctions the cause of the peoples' suffering?

E Pluribus Unum said...

Cuba, or should I say the communists in power there, are the problem, and like communists have done at many times and in so many places, have caused needless suffering for their people.

We now have sanctions in place against Russia. Should we now lift them since so far they have not resulted in any change in that government or its behavior?


Recent revelations about sites like Parchin indicate that the Iranian regime continues to work on nuclear warheads and explosive charges to initiate the implosion sequence of a nuclear bomb at clandestine sites off-limits to inspectors. Notice the words at the end of the sentence: *sites*off-limits*to* inspectors.

There is no enforcement mechanism in the nuclear deal to compel the Iranian regime to allow inspectors “anytime, anywhere” inspections.
*No enforcement mechanism in the deal for "anytime, anywhere" inspections*

Iran has been confronted with credible information that it is operating more advanced centrifuges than permitted, and covertly procuring nuclear and missile technology outside of approved channels: These are all material breaches of the deal.

Outside of the Iran deal itself is that country's involvement in hostilities in Yemen and Syria.

We have had agreements with Korea going back decades. Disappointments all.
Yes, with the current administration it is still too early to tell.
We can always pray for a miracle.