Amy Coney Barrett is a law professor at Notre Dame. She also clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Now she has been nominated by President Trump to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Here’s the problem: she’s a Catholic.
Barrett is the mother of seven, including a special needs child and two children adopted from Haiti. She is also a very public Christian. She told the 2006 Notre Dame Law School graduating class, “If you can keep in mind that your fundamental purpose in life is not to be a lawyer, but to know, love, and serve God, you truly will be a different kind of lawyer.”
She has also written that Catholic judges should not impose their faith on others. In rare cases, they should recuse themselves when their religious conscience prevents them from applying relevant law.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein wasn’t satisfied, protesting during Barrett’s confirmation hearing that “dogma lives loudly within you.” Sen. Al Franken compared her speech before a religious freedom organization to giving a speech to Pol Pot, the genocidal Cambodian dictator. Sen. Dick Durbin asked her, “Do you consider yourself an ‘orthodox Catholic’?”
This despite Article VI of the Constitution, which specifically states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” But in the minds of these senators, it’s apparently acceptable to be a Christian in America only if you don’t tell anyone.
Richard John Neuhaus noted that in our culture, “the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic,” which, as Eric Metaxas explains, is “someone who doesn’t live as if his faith were actually true.” Imagine what would happen to America if such a privatized version of Christianity were to prevail.
Consider this USA Today headline: “Faith groups provide the bulk of disaster recovery, in coordination with FEMA.” Consider the fact that people who frequently attend religious services give far more to charity than those who do not. Consider the billions of dollars in charity care provided by religious hospitals or the millions of hours in community service volunteered by church members.
Yale history professor Kenneth Scott Latourette said of Christianity, “More than any other power in history it has impelled men to fight suffering, whether that suffering has come from disease, war or natural disasters. It has built thousands of hospitals, inspired the emergence of nursing and medical professions, and furthered movements for public health and the relief and prevention of famine.”
I am grateful for “salt and light” Christians like Amy Coney Barrett (Matthew 5:13–16). And I am praying for Christians across our post-Christian culture to join her in courageous and gracious witness for our Lord. Will you join me?