The Guardian has revealed that Amy Coney Barrett, Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, is Roman Catholic. Quite why they have only just cottoned on to this is something of a mystery, but they have very cleverly dug around and talked to her friends from school and trawled her Facebook page and can now ‘reveal’ that she “supported a group which said life begins at fertilization”.
They could have simply consulted Wikipedia, which states: “Barrett is a practicing (sic) Catholic”, which means she might just read her Catechism and probably attends church and almost certainly believes in the sanctity of life and that “human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception”, just like most practising Roman Catholics. But the Guardian has revealed it, so you read it there first.
Curiously, they didn’t reveal that Amy Coney Barrett is happily married to Jesse M. Barrett, and that they have seven children, two of which were adopted from Haiti. Nor did they reveal that Amy Coney Barrett not only preaches that black lives matter; she lives it. Nor did they reveal that Amy Coney Barrett’s youngest biological child was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome during a prenatal screening, but she didn’t abort him, like so many sadly do.
They didn’t reveal that Amy Coney Barrett not only preaches disability equality, she reifies it: human dignity, she believes that it begins in the womb.
What, more specifically, they profess to have revealed is that Amy Coney Barrett was associated with a group which holds ‘extreme’ anti-abortion views. This is a little odd, because they ‘revealed’ this a few days before in a piece referring to the “secretive Catholic group People of Praise“. The Guardian didn’t much like People of Praise because it is a “covenant community” with a “highly authoritarian” structure. They revealed:
Interviews with experts who have studied charismatic Christian groups such as People of Praise, and with former members of the group, plus a review of the group’s own literature, reveal an organization that appears to dominate some members’ everyday lives, in which so-called “heads” – or spiritual advisers – make big life decisions, and in which members are expected to financially support one another.
Shouldn’t being a member of the Church dominate one’s everyday life? Can’t believers seek wise counsel in the making of big life decisions? Shouldn’t Christians help to support one another financially? What is so unpalatable to the Guardian about People of Praise that they haven’t found equally unpalatable in the lived faith of Muslim politicians who take their faith seriously?
All of this, of course, is wrapped up in Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling which granted women the right to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.
The fear is that Amy Coney Barrett will use her place on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade, and so diminish women’s rights to bodily autonomy and the march of feminist progress. This sort of thing:
Amy Coney Barrett has made it clear that she has no intention of using her place on the Supreme Court to make the Pope King of America, but even abortion-opposing Christians doubt the sincerity of her words. Joe Biden is also Roman Catholic, and he, too, is opposed to abortion. But he defends liberty; he supports the woman’s right to choose. And that, in the contentious realm where liberal democratic politics meets religion, is also the position of Amy Coney Barrett. He faith shapes her politics and her legal judgments, but her politics and the law also shape her faith. In this hermeneutic complexity of applied theology, it is entirely possible to believe something strongly personally without believing the state must impose it on others.
What is emerging the US is the very Test Act which the Constitution abolished:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States (Article VI, Clause 3).
In order to hold senior public office in the US one must now subscribe to the new moral orthodoxy. That doesn’t, of course, preclude Christians, but it might just impede Christians who take their faith seriously. It is ironic that the very 17th-18th-century English prejudice against Roman Catholics and Nonconformists holding public office is rearing its head in the Land of the Free. But one wonders, amongst all those social and political conservatives who eschew religious Test Acts and support Donald Trump’s constitutional right to nominate “practising Catholic” Amy Coney Barrett, how they would feel if we were talking about Joe Biden’s nomination of a Muslim supreme justice – one who also happened to take his faith very seriously?