The nominee for the Supreme Court served as a mentor in an anti-abortion religious group

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett served as a “handmaid,” the term then used for senior female leaders in the “People of Praise” religious community, like an ancient directory of the group’s members indicates.

Barrett has so far declined to speak about her membership in the Christian organization, which is anti-abortion and, according to former members, believes men are set up by God as the “heads” of both the family and the faith while it’s the duty of duty of wives is obey them.

All of People of Praise’s top leaders are male, but in each of the group’s 22 regional branches, a select group of women are charged with providing mentoring and spiritual guidance to other female members. Until recently, these female leaders were called “servants,” a reference to Jesus’ mother, Mary, who, according to the Bible, called herself “the handmaid of the Lord.” The organization recently changed the terminology to “women’s leader” because it had new negative connotations after Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale was adapted into a popular television show.

Portions of two People of Praise directory pages for the South Bend, Indiana branch have been shared with The Associated Press by a former community member on condition of anonymity as the subject is sensitive and that person still has family members in People des praise. A second former member, Gene Stowe, who left the South Bend office on amicable terms a few years ago, confirmed the authenticity of the directory pages. He said he couldn’t say exactly what year the directory was from, but that it must be 2013 or earlier because one of the people listed had moved to another state by then.

The leaders lead weekly men’s or women’s groups of about half a dozen people, where they pray and talk together and where the leaders offer advice and guidance. They will also organize to help others in the community, such as providing meals when someone falls ill. Under the organization’s rules, no female leader is allowed to give pastoral oversight to a man, former members said.

WATCH: At RNC, nun praises Trump for being anti-abortion

People of Praise’s belief system is rooted in the Catholic Pentecostal movement, which emphasizes a personal relationship with Jesus and may involve baptism in the Holy Spirit. As practiced by People of Praise, according to documents and former members, this can include praying in tongues to receive divine prophecies, heal the sick, and cast out evil spirits.

Founded in 1971, the nonprofit organization has 22 offices across North America. It is not a church but a denomination that includes people from multiple Christian denominations, although most of its roughly 1,800 adult members are Roman Catholic.

The existence of the directory, which lists Barrett’s name as a maid, was first reported by the Washington Post late Tuesday. The AP reported last week that a 2006 issue of the group’s in-house magazine, Vine & Branches, contained a photo showing Barrett attending a national conference reserved for the top women leaders in People of Praise .

The group had deleted copies of that magazine and other previous issues mentioning Barrett and her family from its website in 2017, when her name first appeared on President Donald Trump’s shortlist for a possible Supreme Court nomination.

Previous issues of the magazine, tax returns, and other documents revealed that Barrett’s father served as senior executive of People of Praise’s New Orleans affiliate, and was on the group’s all-male board of governors as recently as 2017. Her mother was also in the business as a maid.

Other records uncovered this week also showed that both Barrett and her husband, attorney Jesse M. Barrett, had lived in the home of two of the group’s co-founders in the 1990s, when they were young law students at Notre Dame.

Barrett has not disclosed her decades-long affiliation with People of Praise in her extensive Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaires filed last month and three years ago when the Notre Dame law professor was appointed by Trump to a seat on the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago .

Barrett, 48, did not respond to a phone message asking for comment. The White House press office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment about why the mother-of-seven decided not to disclose her People of Praise membership to the Senate.

Barrett also did not disclose that in 2006 she signed a newspaper ad sponsored by an anti-abortion group opposing “abortion on demand” and defending “the right to life from conception to the end of natural life.”

On Tuesday, all 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee released a letter asking the Justice Department to explain the omissions and to confirm whether other materials in Barrett’s Senate questionnaires were omitted. If it does, the department should immediately make the materials available for committee review, the senators said.

Barrett’s confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin Monday as Republicans rush to approve her ascension to the Supreme Court ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

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