The media wing of the Democratic Party is making quite a hullabaloo over the fact that President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court is a Catholic. It was as if Amy Coney Barrett adheres to some odd cult holed up in the jungles of Jonestown, Guyana, ready to drink the Kool-Aid.
The vexed and galled media appear unable to deal with Barrett’s faith because her confirmation would mean six justices on the high court are members of the Catholic Church.
And we can’t have that now, can we?
In a “who is Amy” biographical piece in Vox, the word “catholic” appears no less than 14 times along with the terms “devout” and “dogma.” It took Vox’s writer only one sentence before launching into the nominee’s troublesome faith. “Barrett is a staunch Catholic, a favorite of the religious right, and a former law clerk to conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.” One almost expected an OMG emoji to crop up somewhere in the article.
Not to be outdone, Politico published an exposé on the spiritual group People of Praise, of which Barrett is reportedly a member. The magazine described it as – horror of horrors – “in the style of evangelical churches.” Again, one can almost hear the collective gasp as Politico quotes former members who call the group “secretive” and cult-like.
The Los Angeles Times dedicated heaven knows how many column inches to an article that makes a valiant effort to untangle why so many Catholics sit on the high court. (It all comes down to religious schools, it asserts.) The reader all but expected a paid ad to appear next to the article with Ron Reagan thundering, “Atheists for SCOTUS.”
CNN legal analyst Shanlon Wu used Barrett’s Catholicism as a mere sidebar to what he views as the primary offense to her nomination. Wu opined, “… President Trump reaffirmed his commitment to reject diversity and inclusion by choosing a white Catholic during an unprecedented moment of racial awareness in America. His message could not be clearer: Make America White Again.” Raul Reyes, attorney and contributor to USA Today, all but called the 48-year-old nominee a faithful hypocrite: “Barrett describes herself as a ‘faithful Catholic,’ and believes it is important ‘to know, love, and serve God.’ Yet accepting a nomination from a dishonest, impeached president who will not even commit to a peaceful transition of power speaks volumes about her character.”
One wonders when these theological giants will pull out the granddaddy of distorted Scriptures about Barrett: “Judge not lest ye be judged” (Matthew 7:1). So long as the topic of hypocrisy has come up, it seems a bit disingenuous for Democrats to pick away at Barrett’s Catholicism when their heroes – Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) – are both members of the Roman Catholic Church. Or is what bothers them is not that Barrett’s a Catholic but a conservative Catholic?
In defense of his nominee, Trump drew attention to the anti-Catholic rhetoric rampant when John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960. Saying he thought “we settled this 60 years ago with the election of John F. Kennedy,” Trump went hard after The New York Times for saying Barrett’s religion is “not consistent with American values.” The president rebutted, “She’s Catholic. That covers a lot of people. That’s a very disgraceful thing to say.” How far we have drifted from the First Amendment, which does not merely make the point that no law should be made respecting an establishment of religion but follows with a vital phrase many may have forgotten: “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
All this anti-Catholic rhetoric is a thinly disguised attack on Trump’s nominee because Democrats in the media fear Barrett will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. The left is shaking in its boots over the fate of this landmark case – not the fact that Barrett went to Notre Dame, goes to Mass, and calls herself a Catholic. It is simply political theater at its worst.
For whatever reason, Roman Catholics have had to endure more than their fair share of bigotry in our popular culture and political life. Movies and television programs invariably find a way to make the Catholic a villain. For her part, Barrett has been respectful during all the sound and fury about her religion. During her Senate hearing three years ago, the mother of seven stated: “If you’re asking whether I’m a faithful Catholic, I am, although I would stress that my own personal Church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on the discharge of my duties as a judge.”
Chances are better than equal that Barrett will have to make that her mantra in the upcoming Senate confirmation hearings. Hopefully, our elected officials will hear her, instead of shamelessly grandstanding on an issue that has no place in this process.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.