2020-10-12 16:24:11 UTC
undies - and no large belt buckles because they draw attention to crotch
*Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was raised as a member of People of
Praise, a mainly Roman Catholic faith group
*She concealed her membership of what has been described as a 'Big Brother'
group from senators when she was before the Justice Committee in 2017
*The 48-year-old's hearing to see if she should sit on the nation's highest
court gets underway on Monday
*A former member told DailMail.com exclusively about the group and its rules
*He said large belt buckles are considered a sin because they draw attention to
the crotch region
*Perfume and cologne are banned for similar reasons. 'That would indicate you
are trying to tempt someone with pheromones,' the ex-member explained
*Single women can only wear plain white cotton underwear - no thongs
*People of Praise is strongly anti-abortion and also rejects homosexuality
*Even dating is a no-no until a member has 'prayed through their state in life'
and decided they are ready to 'marry for the Lord'
*Until recently the female leader was known as a 'handmaid', but that title was
dropped after the success of the dystopian TV show The Handmaid's Tale
*Author Margaret Atwood, who wrote the original novel, said it was based on a
group that has similar views to People of Praise
In the secretive world of the ultra-conservative People of Praise, large belt
buckles are considered a sin.
'They draw attention to the crotch region,' a former member told DailMail.com
Perfume and cologne are banned for similar reasons. 'That would indicate you are
trying to tempt someone with pheromones,' the ex-member explained.
And single women are told they can only wear plain white cotton panties.
'Certainly, no thongs not that anyone is going to see their underwear anyway,'
the member, who asked for anonymity, said.
These are just some of the rules that Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett
was raised under as a member of People of Praise, a mainly Roman Catholic faith
group that boasts fewer than 1,700 adult members.
Barrett's hearing to see if she should sit on the nation's highest court gets
underway on Monday. Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are pulling out all the
stops to prevent her confirmation as they worry it would tip the balance of the
court to the right for decades to come.
But Republicans, led by Judiciary Committee chairman Senator Lindsey Graham of
South Carolina, are determined to push her nomination through in near-record
time in case President Donald Trump loses next month's election to Joe Biden.
If confirmed, Barrett, 48, would replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg who
died last month, and give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the court.
Barrett was brought up in Metairie, Louisiana, as a member of People of Praise.
Her father, Mike Coney, a former oil company lawyer, has been a leading member
for decades. Her attorney-husband, Jesse, 46, whom she met while both were
students at Notre Dame University, was also raised in the group.
People of Praise is headquartered in Notre Dame's hometown, South Bend, Indiana,
and many of its leading members have ties to the university. According to its
website, the group has branches in 14 states as well as one in Canada and two in
the Caribbean. It runs three Grades 7-through-12 Trinity Schools and one
Both mother-of-seven Barrett who lives in South Bend and People of Praise
seem to have gone to extraordinary lengths to hide her affiliation. Articles
mentioning her were removed from the group's website shortly before she was to
be considered for a seat on the Federal Appeals Court in 2017.
Last month, after DailyMail.com discovered a picture of two of her children at a
community picnic in a 2007 issue of the group's magazine Vine & Branches, the
magazine's entire archive was removed from the web.
Barrett's ties to People of Praise only became public when the New York Times
broke the story three weeks after her confirmation hearing, but before the
committee had voted. The committee eventually split along party lines to confirm
her. Three Democrats voted with the Republican majority in the vote in the full
Potential federal judges have to fill out a lengthy questionnaire for senators
who are considering their nomination.
One of the questions calls for them to list 'all professional, business,
fraternal, scholarly, civic, charitable or other organizations' that they have
belonged to since high school.
Barrett listed various committees she had been on at Notre Dame as well as the
conservative Federalist Society and a country club in South Bend.
She also said she had been on the board of Trinity School but neglected to
mention that Trinity is run by People of Praise.
Group spokesman Sean Connolly refused to confirm that Barrett is a member. 'Like
most religious communities, People of Praise leaves it up to its members to
decide whether to publicly disclose their involvement in our community,' he told
He did not comment on other claims made by the former People of Praise member.
Barrett has never publicly said she is a member, although she is almost certain
to be asked the question during her confirmation hearing.
Her views on abortion are sure to be central in in the committee. Just last week
she was forced to add details to her questionnaire revealing she signed on to an
advertisement reaffirming support for the 'commitment to right to life.'
People of Praise is strongly anti-abortion. It also rejects homosexuality. 'Both
are seen as being accepted by human law, but rejected by divine law,' the former
'Homosexual relationships are taboo, and any LGBTQ inclinations are seen as
temptations that must be overcome through prayer. If that fails, the member must
lead a life of chastity.'
Even dating is a no-no until a member has 'prayed through their state in life'
and decided they are ready to 'marry for the Lord.' If they have not committed
themselves to marriage, they must not date.
'Dating before you are ready for marriage is prohibited,' the former member
said. 'And sex outside marriage is strictly forbidden. Violating either of these
two rules will result in expulsion.
'Courtship is allowed, but only with the intended purpose of finding your
partner for your marriage in the Lord.
'If a single male member who has prayed through his state in life asks out a
single female who has prayed through her state in life, she must go on at least
two dates with him to see if they are compatible.'
But even then, there are limits as to how close the couple can get. 'Physical
intimacy between couples should only be as much as you would be willing to do if
your own father is sitting there watching you,' the former member told
Members who are committed to marriage are allowed to date more than one person
at a time as the entire purpose of courtship is to find a suitable spouse.
The group is probably best known for its doctrine that women must obey their
husbands in everything, and its system where all men and single women must
report to their mentor called a 'head'. Husbands act as the 'head' for their
The 'heads' have such influence they give direction on who a member should date
or even marry, how to raise children, whether to take a new job and where to
The ex-member said he had heard of cases when the 'head' insisted on being
involved in even the most personal parts of a member's life.
'Mental illnesses and addictions are perceived as demonic possessions or
influences,' he said. 'Seeking outside therapy is allowed, but members report
that their 'heads' sometimes ask to attend their therapy sessions.'
Until recently the female leader was known as a 'handmaid.' But that title was
dropped after the success of the dystopian TV show The Handmaid's Tale and the
negative connotations it brought to the title.
Author Margaret Atwood, who wrote the original novel, said it was based on a
group that has similar views to People of Praise.
A group of women dressed in the series' iconic red cape and stiff white wimple
descended on the Supreme Court on Sunday protesting Barrett's nomination.
In her opening statement, which was released on Sunday, Barrett's only mention
of religions were the words: 'I believe in the power of prayer, and it has been
uplifting to hear that so many people are praying for me.'
But some aren't. Mary Belton was in 8th Grade when she was expelled from People
of Praise along with her entire family when her mother came out as gay. She told
the Associated Press: 'I literally thought that my that my mom was this awful
sinner, and she's going to this literal fiery hell. And that if I supported her,
that I was going there, too.
'It's worrisome. It's who she is,' Belton said of Barrett. 'Anyone that I know,
including myself, that has grown up in it and has left has had to go through a
huge transformation and rewiring of your personhood, of your brain, of your soul
She said she felt that Barrett would not be able to set the group's teachings
Emily DeClerq Flannery, a former member of People of Praise told the South Bend
Tribune in 2018 that she was spied on by members of the group and eventually
expelled for dating a man without permission when she was 18.
'It's very much a Big Brother type of thing,' said Flannery who was 34 at the
time of the interview.
She said she was also confronted about drinking alcohol at a party and
discovered her name on a list of teens, organized by how many drinks each had
consumed. That list was distributed to the teens' 'heads.'
'It was pretty intense,' she said. 'They're very watchful of their people. They
report things to your heads if they see you out doing things you're not supposed
to be doing.'
The group has strong views on gender roles. 'There is a large emphasis on
embodying masculine characteristics and mannerisms,' the former member said.
'Men are told they may not have piercings or long hair because it will make them