A co-founder of People of Praise, the conservative Christian faith group Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett and her family belong to, has been captured on video saying that the group’s women “were always crying” over teachings about male headship and gender roles.
Dorothy Ranaghan spoke about the group in a leaked video obtained by The Guardian.
“And suddenly we were having teachings on headship and the roles of men and women and all sorts of things we hadn’t counted on at all,” Ranaghan said. “And some of the women, who are still in my women’s group as a matter of fact, would wear sunglasses all the time because they were always crying, okay? And would have to hold onto their chairs everybody had started teaching because what are we gonna hear this time? But it all worked out just fine.”
Ranaghan later clarified that the remarks were a “joke” and that the group respected women; many in the group were professionals with important positions, she said.
“Free and happy”
“My remarks were meant as a joke as most of the people in the room understood. I would never be part of a group that oppresses women and I never have been part of one,” she said. “But I have been proud to be one of the women leaders in the People of Praise for more than 50 years. I’ve been in the company of many strong women – lawyers, doctors, educators, businesswomen, wives and mothers, and we are in no way oppressed or dominated. We are responsible for our own decisions; we are free and happy.”
She continued, “Furthermore, it is unconscionable to me that any of the more than 40 men and women who have lived with our family over the years would consider my husband an oppressor. As those who know him would agree, he is a kind, gentle man who listens carefully and respects the opinions of women and men and he always has.”
The group says that it is “non-denominational,” “charismatic,” and aims to imitate the early church in the way its community is formed.
Barrett reportedly served as a “handmaid” in Ranaghan’s household while attending law school many years ago, and her father was a leader in the household. It is not known what the role of “handmaid” entailed.
But the reference was enough to get some members of the left incorrectly linking Barrett to the dystopian Handmaid’s Tale novel and TV show, in which “handmaids” were used as surrogates to conceive and bear children in a society that had high rates of infertility.
Some of the group’s former members have testified or given affidavits about the group’s controlling tendencies. One former member signed an affidavit saying that Ranaghan’s husband Kevin Ranaghan made all the decisions about her finances and relationships.
Barrett surely hasn’t spent much time barefoot and pregnant at home with the kids as she built her legal career and served as a judge in Indiana before being named to the nation’s high court.
She and her husband have seven children, including two adopted from Haiti and one with Down’s Syndrome.