Carrie Severino previews Monday’s Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearing
Ever since Amy Coney Barrett’s name first entered the national conversation as a nominee for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017, the left has focused on attacking her religious faith. These attacks aren’t just wrong — they are dangerous and completely antithetical to American values.
For me, this is personal. The left came after me for my faith as well when President Trump nominated me to be secretary of the Army in 2017. The attacks led me to withdraw from consideration for the position. The following year I was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the 7th Congressional District in Tennessee.
When Amy Coney Barrett was first nominated to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., expressed disdain at then-Professor Barrett’s commitment to her Catholic faith. Feinstein famously stated that “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”
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It boggles the mind that the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee could lay down a religious test for a federal judge. This type of religious test is not something any person seeking to serve in public office should have to face, nor is it constitutional.
Article VI of the Constitution states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
Feinstein wasn’t alone in holding Barrett’s religious beliefs against her. Then-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., spent nearly 10 minutes berating Barrett for speaking to legal fellows at the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Franken not only compared the Christian legal organization to the late Cambodian communist dictator Pol Pot, but called it a hate group. Yes, really. In one Senate Democrat’s eyes, one of the nation’s leading First Amendment law firms was comparable to one of history’s most brutal dictators, whose regime was responsible for the deaths of a quarter of the Cambodian people.
These Democratic attacks show their increasing commitment to laying down a religious test and investigating the religious beliefs of any nominee to public office in America today.
Since President Trump nominated Barrett to the Supreme Court on Sept. 26, radical Democrats and the mainstream media have intensified the attacks on her faith.
Several news organizations have compared People of Praise, a charismatic Christian group that Barrett has been a member of, to the wicked fundamentalist regime described in Margaret Atwood’s novel “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Others have called People of Praise secretive, authoritarian, a cult and extreme.
Comparing a nominee’s faith to a fictional religious cult built on the institutional rape of women goes beyond any nastiness our political discourse has seen thus far. Yet many believe these types of attacks are fine, and are eager to make Barrett’s faith an issue in her Supreme Court confirmation hearing that begins Monday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
These vicious attacks on faith in public life are something I’ve experienced personally. After I was nominated for secretary of the Army, radical Senate Democrats mischaracterized my life of public service and my Christian beliefs for political gain. They assassinated my character, attacked my faith, and laid down a religious test claiming that my beliefs precluded me from serving my country.
Because I hold to the same values espoused by millions of people of faith in this country, the left embarked on a campaign against me. Intentional manipulations and downright falsehoods were leveled against me.
I was called a “serious threat” and accused of hateful things that weren’t true. Despite my life of service to this nation — and my willingness to give my life in combat for every single American regardless of race, creed, religion, or belief system — Democrats claimed that my sincerely held religious beliefs made me unfit to lead.
These attacks were nothing short of a religious test. Because my convictions did not fit the values preached by Hollywood and Times Square, the left sought to ostracize me and give my service to our country the equivalent of a Scarlet Letter.
Our nation’s founders believed that our form of government was best protected by a “moral and religious people.” But all too often, leaders of today’s elite institutions believe that religious conviction is a defect.
While our founders believed the government should not have a role in determining whether someone is religious enough to hold office, today’s radical left tries to ensure that someone is not too religious to hold office. This is unconstitutional and unhealthy for our republic.
The left’s new version of a religious test will disqualify some of our most honorable and worthy citizens from public service. However, there is an exception to the left’s religious test: You might be forgiven for being religious if you agree to either leave your faith at home or use your religion to further the left’s agenda. I was unwilling to do either.
This exception to the rule explains why the left has treated the faith of former Vice President Joe Biden and Amy Coney Barrett so differently. The radical left treats faith with a double standard depending on who holds it.
While Barrett’s faith is disparaged, Biden’s is lauded. An NPR article headlined “How Joe Biden’s Faith Shaped His Politics” applauds Biden for carrying a rosary and attending Mass.
Former first lady Michelle Obama said that Biden is “a profoundly decent man guided by faith.”
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In contrast, others have explicitly called for Barrett’s faith to be examined. A recent Politico opinion piece by theology professor Massimo Faggioli questioned whether Barrett’s loyalty to her faith community will conflict with her loyalty to the Constitution.
This is absurd and reveals a true lack of understanding of people of faith. Those of us who acknowledge a creator are compelled to love and serve everyone, regardless of differences in beliefs. That is something the left fails to understand.
Today the far-left argues that those who are too “dogmatic” are not fit to participate in the public square. I disagree.
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Vilifying people of faith because they don’t agree with progressive policies is against America’s founding principles. Freedom of religion is the foundation of this country, and Americans should stand together to defend it. Personal faith should not disqualify Americans from serving their country.
Senate Democrats didn’t understand that in 2017, but the voters of Tennessee did, and that’s why they sent me to Congress. Thankfully, this time around it looks like there won’t be enough Senate Democrats to stop Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. America will be better for it.
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