President Trump's pick for the Supreme Court belongs to a tightly knit Catholic group called People of Praise—but what exactly is it? The media spotlight is falling on Amy Coney Barrett's "charismatic community" and reviving questions about its spiritual advisers, communal living spaces, and alleged connection to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.
For starters, America magazine reports that the group began in South Bend, Indiana, in 1971 and has members from various Christian churches, while most are Catholic.
Some People of Praise practices are Pentecostal in flavor and include prophecy, healing services, and speaking in tongues.
The group's website says members can leave at any time and adds that "our covenant is neither an oath nor a vow, but it is an important personal commitment." But some former members have told the National Catholic Reporter that the group brainwashed members and clung to a "Jamestown mentality and dominance," per America.
In 2017, the New York Times reported that those decisions include "whom to date or marry, where to live, whether to take a job or buy a home, and how to raise children." The Guardian reports that married women like Barrett include their husbands as "heads."
"We don't try to control people," he said. "And there's never any guarantee that the leader is always right. You have to discern and act in the Lord."
Newsweek claims it's true—and Atwood has said that a "Catholic charismatic spinoff sect" inspired the book—but Vox reports that another group called People of Hope actually sparked Atwood's imagination.
Peggy Noonan agrees, writing in the Wall Street Journal that "People of Praise isn’t a strange radical group, it's ardent Catholics being Catholic, American Christians trying to be Christian."
A former member says she left the group after being told to keep quiet about her lesbian feelings: "I said, 'I'll leave, I don't want to live like that,'" she told the South Bend Tribune in 2018.
An edition of the group's Vine & Branch magazine describes a female group as being "single for the Lord" and sharing a "sisterhood budget" as they lived together in South Bend, per the Guardian.
She said in 2017 that she sees "no conflict between having a sincerely held faith and duties as a judge." But law professor Cathleen Kaveny told America that "you can't say that our faith on the one hand has ramifications for politics, law and the common good and on the other hand expect not to answer questions about it."
This article originally appeared on Newser: Amy Barrett Is in a Group That 'Speaks in Tongues'