The media loves to fawn over the pious and heartfelt Catholicism of Joe Biden. Now they’re talking about the Catholic faith of Amy Coney Barrett, the frontrunner to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. But you’ll notice a very different tone. The key differences are their adherence to their faith’s actual teachings, as well as their political leanings.
The Washington Post can’t call Barrett a “devout Catholic” without including in the same sentence that she is “fervently antiabortion.” Meanwhile, Biden touts his Catholicism — despite his support for abortion, which church teaching expressly calls a “moral evil.”
The Post also notes that, when Barrett was first nominated to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, “Democrats balked at her nomination, questioning whether the academic could be an impartial arbiter because of her deep religious convictions.” If Biden has deep religious convictions, it has never bothered the Post.
Newsweek went further, suggesting that the religious community Barrett and her family are part of was the inspiration for “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. In the book’s dystopian world, Newsweek says, “women’s bodies are governed and treated as the property of the state under a theocratic regime.” Newsweek later corrected the article’s wild claims to say that Atwood’s inspiration was in fact another unrelated group.
Barrett and her family are part of a group called “People of Praise,” a Christian community that emphasizes members keeping each other accountable to biblical teaching. Members have spiritual mentors, some of whom have been smeared as “handmaids,” prompting Atwood’s novel and Newsweek’s apparent concern. Reuters also compared Barrett’s community to “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
The New York Times ran a story in 2017, when Barrett was appointed to the 7th Circuit, headlined “Some Worry About Judicial Nominee’s Ties to a Religious Group.” The story also noted Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s comment toward Barrett during Barrett’s confirmation hearing: “The dogma lives loudly in you.”
In an apparent criticism of Barrett’s views on abortion, Refinery 29 recently proclaimed that Barrett “hates your uterus.” No word about Biden’s hatred for uteruses even though he supports violently emptying them of human life.
Ron Charles, a writer for the Washington Post, tweeted about Barrett’s belief that a “legal career is but a means to an end … and that end is building the Kingdom of God.”
Amy Coney Barrett, the judge at the top of Trump’s list to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has said we should always remember that a “legal career is but a means to an end … and that end is building the Kingdom of God." https://t.co/PZ4MRB7PLX
— Ron Charles (@RonCharles) September 20, 2020
Film director Arlen Parsa, in a now-deleted tweet, called Barrett a “Catholic extremist” who “wants the rest of American women to be stuck with her extreme lifestyle.”
Deleted tweet from @arlenparsa: "Amy Coney Barrett is a Catholic extremist with seven children" who "wants the rest of American women to be stuck with her extreme lifestyle." pic.twitter.com/0O21TsUdO7
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) September 21, 2020
In another tweet that has since been deleted, former Special Counsel for the Obama White House Norm Eisen called Barrett’s faith community, which is part of a religion that is 2,000 years old, a “secretive religious cult.” Edward Ongweso Jr., a writer at Vice, also tweeted about Barrett’s “cult.”
oh her cult literally inspired margaret atwood's book, that's cool https://t.co/XpxEWEsf06
— Edward Ongweso Jr (@bigblackjacobin) September 21, 2020
An op-ed published by the New York Times expressed concerns that adding Barrett would put simply too many Catholics on the Supreme Court. Ever see them publish an op-ed about how there are too many men on the court or too many Ivy League law school grads?
When coverage of Barrett’s faith isn’t downright bigoted like this, it’s usually used as an entry point into a discussion of Barrett’s views on abortion. Her faith is hardly applauded as an endearing, positive trait. Biden’s Catholicism, however, is a different story.
“How Joe Biden’s Faith Shaped His Politics,” is the headline of one article on NPR. “When Joe Biden seeks to inspire or comfort, he turns to his faith,” it continues. “Biden, who carries a rosary in his pocket and attends Mass every Sunday, is known as a deeply devout person of faith.”
This isn’t an old article either — it was published on Sunday, at the same time outlets have been criticizing Barrett. NPR goes on to quote Biden’s deputy political director, John McCarthy, on how Biden’s Catholicism is a positive attribute of his presidential run: “Because this is such a true part of Joe Biden, this is something that is just in the core messaging of our campaign.”
The Salt Lake Tribune tells an endearing story of young Senator Biden meeting Pope John Paul II and compares Biden’s faith to that of fellow Catholic John F. Kennedy. “Joe Biden’s Catholic politics are complicated, but deeply American,” the headline insists.
“Joe Biden is a man of faith,” praises CNN. “Biden grew up in a multigenerational Catholic home, where he says he learned the foundational principles of politics,” the article continues. It also highlights nice anecdotes of Biden slipping away to pray while vice president, and of his faith helping him through the loss of his son Beau. Biden even wears Beau’s rosary on his wrist, CNN tells us.
Another CNN article explains how “personal loss, pastoral instincts and his son’s rosary” are “what defines Joe Biden.” CNN also did a documentary about Biden’s faith; we hear a friend and fellow senator talk about Biden’s faith while birds chirp gently in the background, and then Jill Biden reminds listeners again that “Joe is really devout.” Next, Biden pulls Beau’s rosary out of his pocket to show CNN’s Gloria Borger, prompting Borger to blink back her emotions before telling Anderson Cooper what a “remarkable moment” it was.
The Washington Post adds, “Biden has spent his life drawing from his Catholic faith.” Rushing to defend against Trump’s accusation that the former vice president is “against God,” the Post reassures its readers that Biden “has been motivated by his faith throughout his long career in politics.”
Time reminds us that Biden is the country’s “first Catholic vice president,” and quotes his deputy political director praising his religious “authenticity.” And when Sister Dede Byrne, a nun speaking at the Republican National Convention, criticized Biden’s stance on abortion — a stance completely at odds with that of his church — Politico accused the “GOP” of “attacking” Biden’s faith.
The media can’t have it both ways. The drastically different portrayals of Biden’s and Barrett’s faith shows legacy media’s deep partisanship and subjection of every consideration to leftist power politics, like Melania Trump and Kamala Harris’s Timberland boots. Biden and Barrett’s faith should be treated equally, and if corporate media were fair and balanced, they would do so.