The FFRF exposes Amy Coney Barrett’s religious extremism

October 17, 2020 • 2:00 pm

In this video from the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s (FFRF’s) “Ask an Atheist” series, co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor and constitutional attorney Andrew Seidel, FFRF’s Director of Strategic Response, masticate the Amy Coney Barrett hearings, beginning with a legal analysis of Barrett’s testimony (until 11:30). Seidel, as always, is percipient and eloquent on the hearings.

Then Gaylor interviews Coral Theill (starting at 12:30), who once belonged to the group “People of Praise“, the Christian sect to which Barrett and her family still belong. According to reader Charles Sawicki, who sent me this link, Theill tried to testify at Barrett’s Senate hearings but was refused by Lindsey Graham.  Charles added this:

The ideas espoused by this cult makes the idea that Barrett is a member of SCOTUS much more worrisome. In particular, as a true believer, Barrett is “in submission” to her husband and cult leadership (that is she has to submit to their leadership).

At 34:00, Theill takes questions from both the moderators and the viewers.

Coral Theill’s description of People of Praise is absolutely spine-chilling.  The group is clearly a cult and the women members clearly “handmaids”. Fortunately, Theill has managed to make her awful life with PoP into something good, as she now advocates against abuse and promotes recovery from trauma.

I’d recommend going to the People of Praise website and see what they’re about. That and the Wikipedia article will tell you what we’re in for with Justice Barrett.  Given this information, it’s pretty clear that Barrett wouldn’t be a big fan of evolution. But that’s the least of our worries. Listen to the group’s views on the subjugation of women.

As for what this means for Barrett’s future decisions on the Court, I think you’d have to be in denial to think that she issue decisions that contravene her religious views. As one Jon Meador commented on the YouTube video:

Democrats are criticized for pointing out that Judge Barrett is biased due to her religious beliefs on the grounds that the “no-religious-test clause” bars asking those sorts of questions. The problem is her religious beliefs are the very reason she’s getting the job. Belief in god was not supposed to qualify or disqualify you. Here it’s what qualifies her; it’s the very reason she’s getting the job. Her lack of partiality is the very reason she’s getting the job. When you pick a jury, people with religious beliefs that affect their judgment as excused from service. They can’t serve as a matter of law. Here we have a “juror” picked because she’s a hardcore, right-wing, pro-life Catholic. I hope someone on our side will start filing motions to recuse these religiously-bigoted judges not because we’ll win (because we won’t) but because it’ll raise awareness and make a historical record.

If Barrett truly adheres to the cult’s guidelines, she’d probably be the first Justice to be a member of such a loony sect.

Thanks to Annie Laurie, Andrew, and especially the courageous Ms. Theill for putting this together.

40 thoughts on “The FFRF exposes Amy Coney Barrett’s religious extremism

  1. Well, it is hard to have sympathy for a person who gets into a religious cult or any religion for that matter. Notice at the beginning of her discussion she says, “I had no choice in the matter” As soon as someone says that about themselves they are admitting the religion or other people have taken over her ability to even think for herself. Yes there are lots of people like this but shame on any who would vote to put them on a court or in the congress. Trump kissing the backside of Putin is actually the same thing.

  2. Why did he have to say that the term ‘sexual preference’ is bigoted? It is not pertinent and puts people off (me for example). If you don’t thinks free will exists, sexual preference is perfectly harmless.

  3. As one Jon Meador commented:
    When you pick a jury, people with religious beliefs that affect their JUDGMENT AS excused from service.

  4. Looking towards the USA from my farm in the mountains of France, I Still find the religiosity of the US quite disturbing.

    How about this…

    A future President (Harris?) gives a speech publicly requesting that our Amy steps down from SCOTUS on the grounds that her religious beliefs are incompatible with the democracy as outlined by the Founding Fathers in that her deeply held beliefs will always be in conflict with social progress. After all, most Americans were excuded from the original vision of American democracy.

    Sorted. George

    1. Sure, that sounds very noncontroversial. So besides being disqualified from serving as judges, the idea of them being kept from serving on juries has already been raised. I wonder where such thinking leads to in the end?

  5. Bear in mind that if Barnett is rejected, Trump’s next nominee will most probably be Barbara Lagoas. Has anybody researched her?

      1. True. I might even go so far as to suggest that some level of secrecy concerning its members is very likely to be a defining characteristic of a secret society.

  6. I think Democrats have got to pack SCOTUS to save Democracy. Barrett is a well spoken, harmless looking, but very dangerous religious extremist. I hope that Biden isn’t to nice to do what must be done.

    1. I agree. The current way the Supremes operate, political partisans when appointed by Republicans and no Dem. appointees allowed, is just too broken to continue.

    2. Increasing the Court would not be easy. It has to get through Congress first, and even if the Dems manage to squeak out a majority, there is no guarantee that they would all be in favor. Democrats, unlike Republicans, have not been known for marching in lockstep.

      1. That’s where we come in. Call your Senators and Reps and the WH when Biden is POTUS- demand more seats on the Supreme Court. Obama said he wanted to be “told” what to do by his constituents. Let’s tell Biden. And let’s not call it “packing the courts”. It’s expanding the court to represent the wishes of an American majority…the courts ARE PACKED NOW. Don’t know why the media doesn’t point this out. McConnell blocked over a hundred of Obama’s rightful nominees, and never forget the Garland disgrace. Under Trump, Mitch is filling the holes like a drywaller on spackle duty. The minority has: 3 Trumpites on the highest court and over 100 and still counting on the “lower” courts. At this point, McConnell knows Trump is in the dumps so he’s more interested in packing the courts than saving American lives or solving big problems. Plus, even if Trump loses and the Senate goes D (please CC), Moscow Mitch will still be the malefactor master in handing Biden a failing economy, just like W. did Obama. Though I don’t think W. wanted the economy to fail…Malefactor Mitch? Not so sure.

  7. In an article in the New York Review of Books, Linda Greenhouse, who often writes about the Supreme Court for the NYT, says this:

    “We need a Supreme Court that envisions the Constitution as Ruth Bader Ginsburg envisioned it, as an engine of social progress instead of as a roadblock to structural reform. We have a Court today that divides rather than unites in common purpose; that has reinterpreted the First Amendment as a potent tool of deregulation; that devises off-ramps from civil society for those with religious objections to following the nondiscrimination principles intended to bind us all. We are overdue for a public conversation about what the Constitution is for and whose interests it serves. The left has ceded constitutional discourse to the right for so long that conservatives meet little resistance when they claim to be keepers of the ‘original meaning.’”

    Her goals are aspirational. They will not happen soon, particularly with Barrett soon to be confirmed. With its twisted interpretation of the Constitution, the right wing has executed a silent coup, as the Court’s rulings reflect the views of a distinct minority of the country. As Greenhouse alludes to, the left (which I take to mean the moderate left, i.e., most Democrats) have shown themselves to be terrible politicians, allowing the right to set the narrative. Chuck Schumer, Democratic minority leader in the Senate, is one of the most uninspiring politicians I have ever encountered. Democrats need leader who will fight. If even the Democrats have a big victory in November, I fear that they may slip back into their usual complacency. This can result in their ascendancy to be short lived. As odious as Mitch McConnell is, it has to be said that he lets nothing get in his way to promote his right-wing agenda. Democrats should learn from him.

  8. What will happen in a situation where the democrats take over the congress and the executive for the foreseeable future – If the court gets too wacky the people will ignore the rulings. If you go back to the court before the civil war, that is kind of what happened. A pro southern court and the north just said no.

    1. I don’t think that is realistic. How do “the people” just ignore a ruling that invalidates Social Security, Medicare, or the Affordable Care Act?

      1. Well, when you see the supreme court invalidating any of those things, let me know. I will probably hear the rioting from here. The supreme court is crazy, not stupid.

            1. It doesn’t depend on election results, the case is already in front of the SC. Oral arguments are one week after election day.

            2. What does the election have to do with it? A case is before the court. They can decide it as they like, elections be damned. Why do you think the Republicans have been so single-minded and rushing this nomination through?

              1. I wonder what justice Roberts thinks…with Trump’s 3 picks, he’s turned the court into a blatant partisan branch of government with extreme power backing the executive. Roberts won’t be able to manage his most erstwhile image of an objective, judicious SCOTUS. Roberts must know the “institution” is now, even if Trump is kicked out, a minority rule.

              2. Yeah, Roberts went from being the all-important swing vote to irrelevancy. With Barrett there are now five reliable right-wing votes. Roberts is no longer needed.

  9. The process here in the UK is cumbersome, doesn’t exactly promote diversity, and requires Liz to rubber stamp the nominee.

    Still, it hasn’t (yet) become as politically or religiously charged as in the US. Though like the weather, most things that eventually hit our shores are heading eastwards across the Atlantic. (Of course, the British Invasion in the ’60s is a rare exception – you’re welcome!)

  10. Well, I followed the links, and it sounds to me like they are Jesus Freaks, like characters in Godspell.
    At the bottom of the Wikipedia page, I found the following- “Theill said her time in People of Praise may have been atypical and extreme and that there may be regional differences.”

    It would be helpful to hear about extremist views actually held by ACB. It does not seem that she has been pushed into, and accepted, the sort of women’s subjugation seen in religious extremists, or even the roles typical of my parent’s generation.
    Nor does she wear “plain” dress. She has been pictured in short skirts, jeans, and even shorts. This seems to be the case for her siblings and mother as well.
    That may be a minor observation, but where I live, people communicate quite a lot about their beliefs through their manner of dress.

  11. I’m against court packing mainly because it doesn’t scale. It invites Republicans, or whatever becomes the post-Trump opposition party, to do the same next time they have control. There are many other options, even ones that don’t require a constitutional amendment.

    Jon Meador’s comment has it right. The religious question has to be on the table but the Dems must handle it carefully. On the other hand, they can’t expect Barrett to answer any hard questions so perhaps it would be a waste of time. They could try to embarrass the Republicans by claiming that they intend to vote her in regardless of what she says which is disregarding their duty but they have no shame at all at this point so that’s also a waste of time.

    Lastly, the FFRF need a better title than “Ask an Atheist”. That seems to imply that being an atheist is unusual or requires special training or knowledge. We’re all born atheists, right?

  12. I wish the interview with Coral Theill would have delved into the Notre Dame connection. Annie did ask her about it, but Coral didn’t directly answer it.

  13. This critique of ACB feels uncomfortably like discrimination based on her beliefs. We should not be in a position of excluding eligibility based on whether or not someone is a member of a religious group, regardless of whether or not we subscribe to their world views. We should feel free to voraciously argue against any particular idea or position they put forth that is relevant for sure.. but to argue that her membership alone is enough to discard her is exactly the kind of discrimination we should be fighting against.

    1. Sorry, but in your rush to lecture us on what to do or not to do, you seem to have ignored the main thrust of my post and of the comments: she was appointed to ENACT HER BELIEFS. And there’s every evidence she would.

      1. I suppose time will tell on this one then. I remain optimistic that she will adjudicate according to her testimony – that is decide whether or not a particular case is in contrast withe existing law regardless of her own moral compass. And I would want this ideal for all of our justices.

        If I came off as lecturing I do apologize.

  14. If it was suspected that a candidate for the Supreme Court were struggling with drug, cigarette, or alcohol addiction, it would be imperative to query the candidate on this point, as there very well could be decisions where addiction would impair judgement.

    Religion gets a pass.

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