July 3, 2018


Progressives Deploy Religious Ignorance and Bigotry to Stop Amy Coney Barrett (DAVID FRENCH, July 2, 2018, National Review)

Aside from the basic facts about People of Praise -- it's a group so nefarious that the late Cardinal Francis George wrote, "In my acquaintance with the People of Praise, I have found men and women dedicated to God and eager to seek and do His divine will. They are shaped by love of Holy Scripture, prayer and community; and the Church's mission is richer for their presence." It's so dastardly that Pope Francis appointed one of its members as auxiliary bishop of Portland. And it's so insular that it's founded three schools that have won a total of seven Department of Education Blue Ribbon awards.

But beyond the basic facts about People of Praise, I was amused by the article for a different reason. It betrays fundamental ignorance about the way millions of American Christians live their lives. You see, for many of us (myself included), what happens at church is just the beginning of our efforts to build and sustain Christian community.

At the low end of additional engagement, we form and belong to what Evangelical churches call "small groups" -- Bible study on steroids. The members of small groups don't just study scripture. They form deep friendships and they seek advice for living their lives, including, yes, advice on dating, marriage, careers, and child-rearing.

And that's the low end of additional spiritual engagement. Moving farther down the walk of faith, Evangelicals (and many Catholics, like Barrett) work with more formal "parachurch" organizations -- entities that complement and supplement the work of a local congregation. Often, members of those organizations not only do things like found schools, they also create more formal social networks that allow people to help other members in need, to house members who need places to stay or live (especially when they move to new communities), and to appoint leaders who direct the group and provide biblical counsel to its members.

Amy Coney Barrett is at the peak of her profession. She shares faith practices with millions of co-religionists. Her faith experience is their faith experience. And if progressives seek to block her from the nation's highest court because of it, they'll betray our nation's founding ideals.

Moreover -- as anyone with even the most cursory exposure to biblical Christianity knows -- these groups use biblical language to describe their roles. Words like "covenant" are incredibly common.

Many years ago, before I was married, I belonged to a parachurch organization that enriched my life immeasurably. We prayed together, worshipped together, ate meals together, and even lived together. My two roommates were members of the same group. We often engaged in the same kinds of community outreach (e.g., many members volunteered for Big Brothers/Big Sisters). We held each other accountable, and when one member of the group strayed from biblical teaching, the leaders confronted him or her. We spoke the language of "covenant," and we've maintained deep relationships to this very day.

What was the name of this radical, scary group? The Harvard Law School Christian Fellowship.

....generally means that you tolerate the idea that someone identifies with a religion so long as they don't actually believe in any of the content.

Posted by at July 3, 2018 4:28 AM