There have been charges that women in People of Praise are encouraged to be submissive. One former member said as much to Reuters. Yet as O. Carter Snead, a Notre Dame law professor and director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, notes, Amy Barrett—herself a law professor as well as a judge—appears to be failing at being submissive and a total disaster at being subjugated. Mr. Snead said an interview that he thinks People of Praise draws scrutiny in part because of nomenclature and terminology: “Even the name, People of Praise, sounds to the secular ear either corny or sinister. If you wanted to imagine a group in a dark dystopian hellscape, People of Praise is the name you’d give!”

Joannah Clark, a local leader of People of Praise in Portland and the head of Trinity Academy, a People of Praise school, also appears to be failing at submissiveness. “I consider myself a strong, well-educated, happy, intelligent, free, independent woman,” she laughs. She has a doctorate from Georgetown. Trinity’s culture is “distinctly Christian” but “purposely ecumenical.” The emphasis is on reading, writing and Socratic inquiry. “Our three pillars are the humanities, modern math and science, and the arts—music, drama.”

Do they teach evolution? They do.

“We are normal people—there’s women who are nurses, doctors, teachers, scientists, stay-at-home moms” in the community. “We are in Christian community because we take our faith seriously. We are not weird and mysterious,” she laughs. “And we are not controlled by men.”