A new generation of “forward to the past”, anti-modern conflict for which the GOP should pay in November.
But according to accounts of former members, People of Praise involves much more than studying the Bible. Indeed, some are deeply troubled by the possibility of one of the group winning a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Two years ago, when Barrett’s name was floated as a potential candidate to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, a post appeared in a Facebook group of ex-members of charismatic Christian communities. “I don’t want a current member of this cult to be sitting on the Supreme Court,” the onetime People of Praise member wrote. “And it was not very many years ago that I admired them very much and was almost seduced into thinking they had something spiritually real and rich going for them.” More recently, another ex-member wrote, “I think we better start now fighting her nomination. I can’t quite imagine People of Praise on the Supreme Court.”
People of Praise emerged in 1971 after the Second Vatican Council efforts initiated by Pope John XXIII to bring the church into the 20th century. The council, which took place from 1962 until 1965, led to a loosening of the rules: Latin mass became optional, nuns could toss the habit, and the Vatican encouraged Catholics to engage with other faiths. Encouraged by Vatican II, the founders of People of Praise embraced the idea of creating a new faith community that drew on practices more common in Protestant evangelical churches. But after a few years, the group’s focus evolved in much the same way as those of other American evangelical churches, and leaders grew to emphasize the community as a bulwark against sin and the social upheaval in the rest of the country.
Most of its members are Catholic, but People of Praise is ecumenical, and any Christian can join. But joining the group requires a major commitment and a willingness to submit to a lay spiritual adviser known as a “head,” who has an outsized role in one’s life and relationships. After several years of exploration, prospective members must agree to a formal covenant and pledge to attend to each other’s spiritual, material, and financial needs—as well as attend many meetings, even as they still go to Mass or otherwise remain active in their regular churches. Members are supposed to consult their head on nearly every aspect of their lives—from raising children to buying a car. A woman’s personal head is her husband, and women aren’t allowed into serve in top leadership roles in the community.