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Quote of the Day: Why Amy Coney Barrett’s Religious Beliefs Matter

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During the first day of Appellate Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings, they [Democrats] focused on health care and how Donald Trump’s third nominee might rule after the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments next month on the Affordable Care Act. Avoiding religion was probably wise given the Republicans’ level of fake outrage over fake “religious bigotry.” The rest of us, however, don’t need to play along. Barrett’s Catholicism is fair game.

Yes, I know. Highly influential liberal pundits, and some liberal pundits striving mightily to become influential, argue that religion should be off limits. First, they say, because a person of sincerely held religious beliefs can adjudicate impartially. Second, there’s enough to talk about without bringing up Barrett’s faith. While I presume these liberals mean well (to be clear, in presuming this, I’m being generous), they’re wrong.

They assume, for one thing, that religion and politics can be disentangled. Sometimes they can be. Sometimes they can’t. For another, these liberals behave as if politics is somehow taking religion hostage. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote Monday night: “When politicians use faith as an excuse to pass and uphold laws that seize control of people’s bodies but not guarantee them healthcare, feed the poor, shelter the homeless, or welcome the stranger, you have to wonder if it’s really about faith at all.”

No, you don’t have to wonder. It’s about their faith, full stop. Millions in this country—white evangelical Protestants and conservative white Catholics chief among them—root their genuinely held religious beliefs in opposition to modernity, which is to say, in politics. There is, therefore, no appreciable difference between them. The more our society moves in the direction of greater freedom, equity, and justice for all people, the more these revanchists believe their faith is under siege; and the more they feel their faith is under siege, the more prepared they are to go to war over “religious freedom.”

I don’t know if Barrett intends to help reverse Roe any more than you do. I do know—and you know—that that’s why Donald Trump picked her. That’s why she accepted his illegitimate nomination. Overturning Roe, or at least gutting it in order to permit the states to outlaw abortion, has been the goal for decades.


They are demanding, and getting, an autocratic usurpation of the majority’s will in the name of religion.

Not just any religion, though. A very specific strain of conservative white Christianity. This strain believes that one person has a right to use another person, without her consent, in order to stay alive. The person being used by another person to stay alive has a moral obligation to forfeit the monopoly over her body, such that her body isn’t private property so much as public property jointly owned by members of their shared faith. Importantly, if the person being used by another person to stay alive refuses, she is subject to various punishments, including, if the court overturns Roe, legal ones. There’s a reason Republicans want to make Barrett’s religion off limits. They don’t want a majority to see outlawing abortion as the establishment of a state religion.

You aren’t able to see violations of the First Amendment if you insist that religion is off limits. What’s more, you can’t see the treasonous bad faith of the revanchists. They don’t care about babies. If they did, they’d be up in arms over news of the president’s treatment for covid-19. He was injected with an “antibody cocktail” tested on stem cells derived from a baby aborted nearly half a century ago. White evangelical Protestants and white conservative Catholics usually say “fetal tissue,” even in life-saving drug treatments, is a grave offense to God, but not this time.


That’s bullshit, but at least they’re dropping the charade. What they want to say but fear saying—because saying it out loud for everyone to hear would be too gothic and horrifying for mainstream America—is what they really mean. What they really mean is that it’s okay for one person to use another person’s body without his or her consent.


So don’t ignore religion. It is central. None of this makes sense when it’s not.

— John Stoehr, Religion Dispatches, Why Amy Coney Barrett’s Religion is Fair Game, October 14, 2020

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    Steve Ruis

    I just read a post that showed research to see if religion or party affiliation affected judicial judgment. The claim that such concerns are irrelevant because judges would let their personal beliefs affect their judgments is just wrong. That claim is just another platitude that reeks of “truthiness,” some thing that sounds true even though it is not.

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    Yulya Sevelova

    I vaguely remember years ago, someone wrote about the possibility of a second Inquisition one day, if ultraconservative Roman Catholics got key roles in high levels of government here. It was during and after 9/11 I began to wonder if a police state was coming. In Trump, his judges, and Barr, for starters, that I now think it could happen. All it would take now is Martial Law.

  3. Avatar

    Most of us our too young to remember, but when John Kennedy ran for President his Catholicism was a big deal. He had to go on the record saying he believed in separation of church and state. The Vatican is a huge tentacled beast with its suckers in as much politics as the locals will allow. In the past 40+ years since the Roe vs. Wade decision was made the goal to pack the court to get a voting block large enough to overturn it. At first, Reagan (really the first one to kowtow to the religious right) nominated centrists who respected precedent, but as time went on Reagan and Bush and Bush II successfully got nominees further from the right. One indication? ARE THEY CATHOLIC? If they’re Catholic and conservative eventually you’ll get your block.
    At any rate I’d like to see the court expanded if the Democrats get a trifecta. If they end the filibuster and pass it, Biden wouldn’t be able to veto it, even though Biden does not really want to hit that switch on the Wonkavator. In reality I don’t think 9 justices is enough to stop this court packing tactic method to amend the constitution nor to represent the diverse population of the United States.

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    Yulya Sevelova

    Thanks for pointing these facts out, Troy. Yesterday I was listening to someone bring up Leonard Leo, a major Trump backer. He’s known for being a Catholic fundamentalist. And Lewis Powell, who launched the corporate power grab for government as we know it today. Thom Hartmann Show on radio/ Free Speech TV goes into great detail about all these scary things. I listen to Pacifica Radio KPFK FM. And they have archives and live shows at I missed two weeks of programs when I lost the radio and my phone died,lol.

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    Brian Vanderlip

    I completely, totally, unequivocally believe that women will not ever allow their personal freedom, their bodily autonomy to be taken away again. They will rise up by the hundreds and hundreds of thousands and we will rise with them in protest. The USA will stop in a day if women decide to stop it and the reversal of Roe vs. Wade is a trigger I think that would cause an uprising. Go ahead, Trump. Make my day.

  6. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Well said, Brian ! I looked up Leo in Wikipedia, and this guy is involved with dark money, plus the Knights of Malta. He’s bad news. And operating under the radar, thanks to corporate media. I haven’t seen a power grab like this since hearing about Medieval Europe. The National Fraternal Order of Police also supports tRump”s re-election, no surprise there. The local cops, the gyrenes, are salavering for Martial Law openly. On CNN, I think, there’s a segment at one rally where Trump say to the Fundies ” You will have power….”. This is nothing less than a coup against the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

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Bruce Gerencser