Saturday, September 26, 2020

 I remember in 2008 when Republicans began attempting to smear Barack Obama, and ruin his chances of becoming the Democratic nominee, by attacking his faith. Specifically, they went after Obama's association with the fiery pastor Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, and the teachings of Liberation Theology. The media jumped on board, fanning the flames of controversy. Lots of misinformation was thrown around.

I hope the same thing doesn't occur with Amy Coney Barrett, Trump's presumptive Supreme Court nominee. Yes, she apparently is a long-standing member of a somewhat fringe ecumenical charismatic Catholic group called People of Praise. They are a lay community within the Catholic fold. Like many other Catholic lay communities, they seem to have an orientation toward social justice. They are an intentional community--including communal living for some members--with some internal practices that look remarkably similar to socialism. They follow the teachings of Ignatius of Loyola in practicing discernment. Like several other charismatic Christian groups that started up in the late 60's and the 70's and 80's, they are internally hierarchical and practice a form of "shepherding," in which members submit to more senior members for direction in their lives. Although they are non-partisan, they are conservative on matters such as abortion, a wife's submission to her husband, and limiting women's authority within the church (in other words, they're in step with the official positions of the Catholic Church).

They are not a cult. Personally, People of Praise is not a group I would want to belong to. I have experienced first hand, over the course of many years, how damaging charismatic Christian groups like this can be. But at the same time, I think we have to respect a person's religious choices (including the choice of no religion).

So, as much as I don't want Republicans to confirm a Supreme Court Justice mere weeks before the election, I really hope Democrats don't take the bait on this one. By all means challenge her positions, her public statements, her legal and constitutional views. But leave her faith out of it.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

"Abortion" is a word that can make some Christians vote contrary to everything Jesus talked about, because of something he never talked about.