Wineke: Barrett’s faith should be emulated, not condemned

Amy Coney Barrett
FILE - In this May 19, 2018 file photo, Amy Coney Barrett, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit judge, speaks during the University of Notre Dame's Law School commencement ceremony at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. Barrett is one of four judges thought to be President Donald Trump’s top contenders to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. (Robert Franklin /South Bend Tribune via AP, File)

MADISON, Wis. — There are a lot of reasons why I think Amy Coney Barrett should not be a Supreme Court justice, but her religious faith and practice is not one of them.

One argument her opponents keep highlighting is that Barrett is supposedly a member of the Catholic charismatic group People of Praise. The movement says husbands should be the heads of families and that members owe allegiance to spiritual leaders within the group.

I don’t know about that. Here’s what I do know: Barrett has just been nominated for a seat on the United States Supreme Court.

It seems to me that is hardly the defining characteristic of a woman held in bondage to a domineering husband.

Indeed, the Barrett family seems to exemplify what most of us would consider a definition of good people. Jesse and Amy Barrett have seven children, two of them adopted from Haiti and one who was born with Down Syndrome.

So, if her religious faith is influencing her, it seems to be a good influence.

If I were doing the picking, I would not pick Barrett for the Supreme Court. She seems far more critical of government paid health care than I think is wise for the future of this country and I am supportive of a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy. Barrett, in general, is not.

That doesn’t tell me exactly how she would rule on any given case coming before the court; it just tells me she is philosophically more inclined to positions with which I disagree.

However, I am not doing the picking and I doubt that anyone President Donald Trump would pick would be any more to my philosophical liking than Barrett is.

But that’s not my argument here. My argument here is that it is wrong to judge Barrett for her membership in a religious movement defined in her critics’ eyes by the most extreme criticism of that movement’s teachings.

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, any number of small movements developed that attempted to put church teachings into practice. Madison, for example, was home of a number of “house church” movements that attracted liberal Catholics who wanted to move beyond the confines of the traditional Catholic mass.

People of Praise, from what I’ve been able to learn, is a similar movement, just more theologically conservative.

The charismatic movement emphasizes a personal relationship with Christ, prayer and, often, a more enthusiastic relationship to liturgy than staid former Lutherans like me find comfortable.

But one purpose of any religion is to help people live their lives more faithfully and to be better examples of that faith to the outside world than they would otherwise be.

By that criteria, the Barrett family seems to be exemplary of the faith they proclaim.

So I think that, rather than condemning Barrett for how she lives out her religious convictions, I should spend more time examining how I live out mine.