FBI Targets Christian Group Known for Justice Barrett Membership

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CV NEWS FEED // The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is reportedly interviewing people who claim they were abused within People of Praise (PoP), a Christian group to which Catholic Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett belongs.

“As a matter of longstanding policy, the FBI neither confirms nor denies the existence of investigations,” a Bureau spokesperson told Newsweek when asked about the matter.

The spokesperson said the FBI’s focus “is not on membership in particular groups but on criminal activity,” adding:

We are committed to upholding the constitutional rights of all Americans and will never open an investigation based solely on First Amendment-protected activity. Membership in groups is not illegal in and of itself and is protected by the First Amendment.

A spokesperson for PoP Survivors, a group of the Christian network’s alleged victims, told Newsweek that the FBI had already contacted at least five people and will likely reach out more in the near future.

“After years of inaction by the People of Praise, our PoP Survivors group recently voted unanimously to approach federal law enforcement,” the person said in a statement obtained by Newsweek:

We showed the FBI a pattern of sexual abuse and cover-up in the [PoP] spanning decades. This involves pressuring victims not to go to law enforcement, moving perpetrators around, and claiming perpetrators had been ‘healed’ rather than reporting them to law enforcement.

On its website, PoP Survivors stated that it was formed by “survivors from multiple branches of the [PoP] who met through a Facebook group” which “was formed after Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.”

The group to which Barrett belongs describes itself as “a charismatic Christian community.”

“We admire the first Christians who were led by the Holy Spirit to form a community,” PoP states. “Those early believers put their lives and their possessions in common, and ‘there were no needy persons among them.’”

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An interdenominational and ecumenical group based in South Bend, IN, PoP was founded over 50 years ago by Kevin Ranaghan and Paul DeCelles, Catholics involved with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR). 

Both founders were graduate students at the time. Ranaghan became a deacon, and DeCelles a physics professor at Notre Dame University in South Bend – where Barrett would go on to become a law professor.

Barrett was born one year after PoP’s founding and is reported to have belonged to the group for her entire life. Like Barrett, approximately 90% of the group’s nearly two thousand members are Catholic.

“Jesus desires unity for all people,” the PoP website states: 

We live out this unity the best we can, in spite of the divisions within Christianity.

We are Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians and other denominational and nondenominational Christians.

Despite our differences, we are bound together by our Christian baptism. Despite our differences, we worship together. While remaining faithful members of our own churches, we have found a way to live our daily lives together.

Walter Matthews, a former member of the group, spoke favorably about his time there. As reported in the National Catholic Register:

He said misunderstandings about such groups often arise when members do things like sell their homes and move, which can give the impression they are joining a “cult.” Another misconception is that by joining such a group community members may seem to have left the Catholic Church. 

However, Matthews said in the case of People of Praise, the community supports and encourages members in their individual congregational or parish commitments. 

A member of a similar faith community told the Register

You can’t do it on your own. You need to be part of a group that is encouraging you and helping you move in the right direction.

Being in the Word of God was a very important way of expressing full dedication to Christ, full commitment to the brethren and a way of living out the call of the Second Vatican Council to laypeople to live in holiness and participate in the mission of the Church.

The post FBI Targets Christian Group Known for Justice Barrett Membership appeared first on CatholicVote org.

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