Some have tried to attach a sinister significance to her association with the People of Praise, an ecumenical Christian organization started by Notre Dame students in the 1970s. People of Praise is part of the charismatic renewal movement, focused on community, fellowship and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis has referred to the various groups in this movement as “a current of grace in the Church and for the Church.”
In an attempt to capture the public imagination, Barrett’s detractors have tried to associate the People of Praise with the regime depicted in the dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Women there are condemned to submissive gender roles that permit them no rights or opinions of their own. It’s impossible to maintain such a fantasy with Barrett. Her husband — I taught him, too — is a wonderful man and a remarkably able lawyer, as was Ginsburg’s husband. No one who knew either couple would suppose that the woman needed instruction on how to think.
People of Praise members participate in weekly prayer and community meetings and work for the poor in places such as Barrett’s native Louisiana. Decades ago, they started one of the best high schools in Indiana. (Full disclosure: Two of my grandsons are students there.) It has been a model of classical education for schools across the country, from Virginia to Montana. Barrett has served on the board.