Gus Kenworthy
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God Is Center Stage at Amy Coney Barrett’s Confirmation Hearings

Amy Coney Barrett

Donald Trump hates to be out of the news. He’s fine if you think he paid off a porn star. He’s fine if you think that there are “fine people on both sides.” He’s fine if you think dead or wounded soldiers are “losers” or “suckers.” He’s fine if you think it’s OK for him to grab “pussy.” He’s fine if you think he cheats on his taxes or is a bad businessman but a good TV personality. He’s fine if you think he’s fine with his own warped battle with COVID-19, joy rides, Evita balcony appearances, and “extreme makeover” homemade videos. It doesn’t matter; in his distorted, demented, nihilistically narcissistic way, he’s fine if you spend all your time talking about him, reading about him, or hearing about him on TV.

Even if that means you think he’s the devil incarnate. Which he is. If you look at those eyes — I mean really look at them, zoom into them on your phone. They are empty, void of kindness, staring blankly and unsympathetically, with no emotion toward others, the plight of others, or the lives of others. There’s nothing behind them because there is nothing behind them. They have an inward look that reflects his conceited corneas.

So how will he feel as God becomes the center of attention during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings this week for Amy Coney Barrett? With God being talked about, not as a deity but as an opinionated, morally stringent authority that casts assumed aspersions on all those who do not protect the unborn, and that believes Catholicism and evangelical Christianity are the only viable and authentic mechanisms to worship — Jews and Muslims be damned! That marriage is only heaven-sent between a man and a woman, who then go about creating a half-dozen spawns in their likeness, and that sex — oh my, that dirty, sinful word — should only occur when conceiving those offspring, preferably with blindfolds and two holes in a sheet. 

And as I go to type this, I feel God’s powerful push on my punditry saying that sex, that disgusting, insipid action, should never, ever, under any circumstances occur between two men or two women. And God forbid — literally — you are a man who was assigned female at birth or a woman who was considered male, and you choose to live your life the way you know you are in your heart. 

Thinking about all of these dreadful sins — and how they are not sins but signs of love and life — has now caused God’s hate to fire up, my fingers numbing, burning with the stinging pain of being so unlike that perfection of purity, the purveyor of piousness, the preacher of pro-life, Amy Coney Barrett.

It’s not this real-life version of The Handmaid’s Tale that is on trial or is being debated about. It is and will be God. His pugnacious prophets, middle-aged to advanced-aged white men, some in his likeness with beards like Ted Cruz, are speaking on God’s behalf. Senators — I’m sorry, priests — Cruz, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, Josh Hawley, and Mike Lee, who was miraculously cured, of course by his God, of COVID-19, and who took off his mask and came within six feet of his 87-year-old colleague Chuck Grassley. Fittingly, Lee was likely infected at Barrett’s super-spreader convocation.

Their fellow celebrants on the Senate Judiciary Committee will be continuing to conduct a mass rather than a hearing, with more devoted homilies forthcoming, espousing their rightful interpretation of God’s words. They are seeking to make Barrett not a Supreme Court justice but a deacon, or more apropos, a nun. They would confirm her as a priest, but women — just like God wants — cannot be priests.

The visitations to the Senate's high priests by the virgin Barrett began while Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dead body was still warm. Pope Pence escorted Sister Amy to see Monsignor McConnell at the start of her taking the veil. You would think that with a president who has been labeled a national security risk — former FBI official Frank Figliuzzi said on MSNBC that Trump wouldn’t pass a clearance to work in the FBI cafeteria — a raging pandemic, the lack of a stimulus package to help millions of suffering Americans, massive layoffs firing up again, fires burning, hurricanes churning, foreclosures looming, that Pence and McConnell would have more important things to do than sit around and pray with a handmaid? But you’d be mistaken.

Because our high priests are foaming at the mouth to appease part of their base that’s been slipping away, the Christian right, all the while ignoring the fact that Donald Trump is a reincarnation of a Pontius Pilate. Married three times, sexually assaulting dozens of women, a white supremacist who preaches hate, who takes immigrant babies away from their mothers, a bully filled with odium online and in life, and a hypocrite like none other. 

An article in The Atlantic last month talked about Pontius Donald’s disdain for his Christian supporters. The article says aides have seen Trump “ridicule conservative religious leaders, dismiss various faith groups with cartoonish stereotypes, and deride certain rites and doctrines held sacred.”

He’s not the only charlatan. During the debate last week between Pope Pence and Kamala Harris, she mentioned that Joe Biden is a practicing Catholic — which he is and has been all his life. On my social feeds I immediately saw a family member, who is Catholic scorn that statement (she is no longer on my social feeds) and her comment section light up with pro-life firebrands condemning the remark too and calling Biden a “baby killer,” among other atrocious proclamations. It was sickening that these 40-something women feel that they are the arbiters of righteousness, ignorantly condemning someone who is unquestionably Catholic.  

These are the same people who are silent when border babies cry alone, when pandemic victims die alone, when Black men and women are shot or snuffed out alone, when a sexual assault victim screams alone, and on and on and on. Their claim of being “pro-life” is beyond pathetic. It defies definition. The God I know is not selective about life. He cherishes all life, all walks of life, all manner of life. 

You will not hear that from the Republicans this week. But you will hear it from Barrett, who will lie — yes, that’s a sin — about her previous decisions, about any upcoming decisions, about how she won’t let her faith be a guide to her decisions. She’ll waffle on the subject of life, all the while crossing her fingers under her handmaid’s habit. With her pasty white skin and uncoiffed hair (I can be judgmental too!), she truly is the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

What you’ll see this week will be the epoch and confluence of hypocrisy and lies from the U.S. Senate, from the Supreme Court nominee, from right-to-life groups and Christian faiths, and as usual from the president’s Twitter feed. The Republicans, in fear of losing the Senate, in panic at Trump’s paltry poll numbers, in horror at Trump’s behavior around COVID-19, are lurching forward, however unsafe (that hearing room is a petri dish) and however unsanctified, with the confirmation hearings. A desperate attempt to deflect the news to the second coming of Christ that is Barrett. She is at once a postulant and a distraction.

When it finally came to pass, when Barrett appeared — like a vision — in front of the judiciary panel on the first day (will there be seven days, in order to redo all the heavens and the earths?), Republicans immediately highlighted her religion, but in a woefully misguided way. They accused Democrats over and over again of making an issue of Barrett's Catholicism. The fact is that not one single Democrat on the committee made mention of it Monday. On top of this lie, they repeated, almost to a person, that she should be free to live her life and worship the way she wants. They are missing the point. It's that Barrett — and the Senate Republicans — want us all to live and worship and abide by the rules of the Catholic faith, like she does, and like they supposedly do.

Like going to church instead of a synagogue. I didn’t go to mass over the weekend because I figured that I’ll be attending church each day this week while keeping an eye on the confirmation hearings. I’m eagerly awaiting the homilies from Reverend Graham (Lindsey, not Billy), praying with Father Cruz, and receiving communion by being force-fed Barrett’s stale and spoiled words.  

However, I’m worried that my week of multiple masses, via the confirmation hearings, may be interrupted by multiple distractions, so perhaps I should have gone to church on Sunday. You see, God-like Trump has returned to his super-spreader rallies, ostensibly “cleared by doctors” to repugnantly return to “normal” life. 

Barrett’s and the Senate’s continual talk of Jesus as the true emperor and history’s top news story will only serve to enliven Trump’s pitchfork. He’ll no doubt start poking hard, cruelly, and fast in order to keep the media’s focus on him, not Barrett and most certainly not on God. At his Florida rally he shunned a mask, and that's all the media could talk about Tuesday morning. Just as he likes it.

May Almighty God bless us this week, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. And may we all go in peace to love and serve our God — the one who loves us all just the way we are, and not the way Senate Republicans and Barrett will tell us we should be.

John Casey is editor at large for The Advocate.

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