Amy Coney Barrett called on to recuse herself from upcoming gay rights case over faith group affiliation

Former members of the charismatic Christian group, People of Praise, claim Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a member of the community, can not be impartial in the upcoming 303 Creative LLC v Elenis case, which will determine if a graphic design firm must include same-sex weddings on the wedding websites it designs.

The ex-members, who consider themselves to be “survivors” of the People of Praise, are calling on Barrett to recuse herself based on her continued affiliation with the group, according to The Guardian. Her involvement with the group, they argue, indicates that she has participated in anti-LGBTQ+ policies.

In 2015, Barrett joined the board of Trinity Schools Inc., a private group of Christian schools with ties to People of Praise.

A faculty guide published that same year stated that “blatant sexual immorality” — including “homosexual acts” — had “no place in the culture of Trinity Schools.”

According to the former People of Praise members, Trinity Schools’ stance on morality echoes the group’s anti-gay beliefs. Members who had gay children or who later came out as gay themselves were ostracized or kicked out of the group entirely, they allege.

Maura Sullivan, 46, was raised in the People of Praise South Bend, Indiana, community and came out to her parents as bisexual when she was 19.

“They decided that I wasn’t allowed to be around my sister, who was 13 at the time, without them around, because I could ‘influence’ her in bad ways,” she said. “Stuff like that. So I had a tenuous relationship with my family.”

“To be cut off from my family was the ultimate loss of community,” she stated.

If you Google “People of Praise,” article after article describes the group as “secretive,” with some going as far as to call it a cult.

While Coney Barrett has not publicly discussed her affiliation with the group, as she was heading into her Senate confirmation hearings in Oct. 2020, the Catholic Trump nominee to the Supreme Court became the subject of several mainstream media hit pieces, which jumped through journalistic hoops to paint her as the poster child for “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

“Barrett has had an active role in the organization, as have her parents, according to documents and interviews that help fill out a picture of her involvement with a group that keeps its teachings and gatherings private,” The Washington Post reported at the time.

“[W]hile in law school, Barrett lived at the South Bend home of People of Praise’s influential co-founder Kevin Ranaghan and his wife, Dorothy, who together helped establish the group’s male-dominated hierarchy and view of gender roles,” WaPo continued. “The group was one of many to grow out of the charismatic Christian movement, which sought a more intense and communal religious experience by embracing such practices as shared living, faith healing and speaking in tongues.”

With oral arguments in 303 Creative LLC v Elenis set to be heard on December 5, those murky ties to People of Praise are enough to spark yet another round of Barrett bashing.

The case centers around Lori Smith, the Christian owner and founder of 303 Creative LLC, a graphic design firm.

“She wants to expand her business to include wedding websites,” Oyez, an unofficial online archive of the Supreme Court, reports. However, she opposes same-sex marriage on religious grounds so does not want to design websites for same-sex weddings. She wants to post a message on her own website explaining her religious objections to same-sex weddings.”

According to the site, “The Colorado AntiDiscrimination Act (‘CADA’) prohibits businesses that are open to the public from discriminating on the basis of numerous characteristics, including sexual orientation.”

Discrimination is defined “not only as refusing to provide goods or services, but also publishing any communication that says or implies that an individual’s patronage is unwelcome because of a protected characteristic.”

Smith challenged the law in federal court, arguing “numerous constitutional violations.”

In the end, Barrett will be asked to weigh in on whether CADA’s requirement, which forces an artist to either stay silent on a subject or speak out in favor of it, is a violation of the First Amendment.

Melissa Fine


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