Examination of People of Praise comes as supreme court seems poised to reverse Roe v Wade
The founder of the People of Praise, a secretive charismatic Christian group that counts supreme court justice Amy Coney Barrett as a member, was described in a sworn affidavit filed in the 1990s as exerting almost total control over one of the group’s female members, including making all decisions about her finances and dating relationships.
The court documents also described alleged instances of a sexualized atmosphere in the home of the founder, Kevin Ranaghan, and his wife, Dorothy Ranaghan.
The description of the Ranaghans and accusations involving their intimate behavior were contained in a 1993 proceeding in which a woman, Cynthia Carnick, said that she did not want her five minor children to have visitations with their father, John Roger Carnick, who was then a member of the People of Praise, in the Ranaghan household or in their presence, because she believed it was not in her children’s “best interest”. Cynthia Carnick also described inappropriate incidents involving the couple and the Ranaghan children. The matter was eventually settled between the parties.
Barrett, 50, lived with Dorothy and Kevin Ranaghan in their nine-bedroom South Bend, Indiana, home while she attended law school, according to public records. The justice – who was then known as Amy Coney – graduated from Notre Dame Law School in 1997 and two years later married her husband, Jesse Barrett, who also appears to have lived in the Ranaghan household. There is no indication that Amy Coney Barrett lived in the house at the time when the Carnick children were visiting or witnessed any of the alleged behavior described in the court documents.
The examination of the People of Praise’s history and attitude towards women comes as a majority of the supreme court – including Barrett – appear poised to reverse Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion legal across the US.
Cynthia Carnick stated in the documents that she had witnessed Dorothy Ranaghan tie the arms and legs of two of the Ranaghans’ daughters – who were three and five at the time the incidents were allegedly witnessed – to their crib with a necktie. She also said that the Ranaghans allegedly practiced “sexual displays” in front of their children and other adults, such as Dorothy Ranaghan lying with her clothes on and “rocking” on top of Kevin Ranaghan in their TV room.
Cynthia Carnick – who no longer uses Carnick as her last name – declined to comment but said that she stood by the statement she made at the time.
In an affidavit that supported Cynthia Carnick’s written statement, a woman named Colette Humphrey said she had lived with Kevin and Dorothy Ranaghan from 1973 to 1978, when she was a member of the People of Praise, and confirmed she had witnessed incidents of inappropriate sexual expression.
Humphrey also wrote in her statement: “When I was part of the People of Praise I was in full life submission to Kevin Ranaghan, under full obedience to him and he exercised this authority over most areas of my life. For example, we were ‘in common’ financially, which meant that I had to hand over my paycheck to Kevin Ranaghan and he would decide on how that paycheck would be used. Kevin Ranaghan controlled my dating relationships, deciding who and when I should date.”
Humphrey – who now uses a different surname – did not respond to a request for comment left at her residence.
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