Amy Coney Barrett faced the wrath of anti-Catholics during her confirmation hearings for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The same anti-Catholic rhetoric has emerged once again as her name is rumored to be on the short list to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Democrat Senate candidate and conspiracy theorist Richard Painter insists Barrett belongs to a cult called People of Praise.

University of California San Diego Thomas Csordas, an anthropologist, told Slate that he “would definitely not use the term cult in its popular sense.” Slate continued:

For one, it is not terribly secretive other than keeping its membership list private. It has a detailed website, and Lent, its current leader—who was elected by a board and is term-limited—cheerfully agreed to an interview. Csordas describes the group as theologically conservative, with a hierarchical leadership structure. But Lent said the group was also deeply inspired by the communitarian ethos of the 1960s counterculture. Group members often make an effort to live near each other in certain neighborhoods. Single people sometimes live with families, and there are some households of single men or single women living together. Members pledge to donate 5 percent of their gross income, and many give more, with the idea of supporting fellow members.

People of Praise isn’t even a pure Catholic group because “it accepts members from many Christian traditions.” The group’s “theological requirement of membership is to be baptized Christian and to believe the Nicene Creed, a standard Christian statement of faith.”

The argument is so ridiculous that even Slate published a piece defending Barrett and MSNBC host Chris Hayes begged people to “stop with the ‘cult’ stuff.”

I think Heaton may be asking too much from Painter, who has also demanded an investigation into Kennedy’s retirement.

Painter has been spouting off a New York Times article from 2017 that certainly makes it seem like People of Praise is a cult.

I now have a lot of respect for Ruth Graham at Slate because she reached out to People of Praise and spoke with them one-on-one.

The NYT also spoke with leader Craig S. Lent, but after reading Graham’s article, I wonder how much the Grey Lady left on the editing floor.

The left, who is recently obsessed with The Handmaid’s Tale and constantly preaching that we’re headed towards a dystopian theocracy, have zeroed in on the People of Praise. The People of Praise have a handmaiden, which had the whole anti-Barrett, Handmaid’s Tale mongering crowd in an uproar. Graham found out it’s not as sinister as others make you believe:

After about six years of participation, members can opt to commit to living in the community permanently, a ceremony that consists of pledging to attend weekly meetings and, as Lent paraphrased it, “to care for each other physically, financially, materially, and spiritually.” The term handmaiden was chosen in 1971, 14 years before Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, to evoke the Biblical Mary’s description of herself as a “handmaid of the Lord,” or a woman who has an important relationship with God. “It has acquired worse resonances, and all we were looking for was a neutral term,” Lent said, explaining the recent change to “woman leader.”

People of Praise changed the wording. They now use “woman leader” instead of handmaiden.

Abortion has also been used as a way to attack People of Praise and Barrett. Lent told Slate that “the group considers abortion a ‘morally wrong act’ but takes no position on abortion policy.” In fact, the group compared “it to the way that greed is morally wrong but what that should mean for policy is up to individual discernment.”