Exclusive Interview: Just Who Are the People of Praise?

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The first full on-the-record interview with the coordinator for People of Praise, in the news now due to Amy Coney Barrett.

Ed: Craig, you’ve been involved with the People of Praise for a long time and now coordinate the community. How would you respond to some of the ways the People of Praise were characterized during the confirmation hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett?

Craig: Well, in the Senate hearings themselves, opposition to Judge Barrett centered on her judicial philosophy. The press, however, focused a great deal on her reported association with People of Praise. Despite our best efforts to be honest, transparent and helpful with reporters, it became clear that we were going to be cast as the dark stain on her character that many hoped would be disqualifying.

Ed: As I understand it, the People of Praise was founded in the early 1970s, in a time many young people were part of the Jesus People Movement. A part of that larger movement was the charismatic renewal which touched many people across various Christian traditions. This included a charismatic renewal in the Catholic church at places like Duquesne and Notre Dame. Tell us about how the People of Praise started and your own experience.

The community was founded in 1971 when 29 people made a covenant commitment in South Bend, Indiana. Notable historical influences that helped shape the community include Vatican II and its focus on the laity, ecumenism, and scripture, the Cursillo movement and its emphasis on small-group meetings and evangelism, and of course the charismatic renewal.

My own experience with the charismatic renewal began when I was a college student in the 1970s. Though attending a campus Christian group, Bible studies, and small groups, I experienced my life as a Christian to be, as I would have said at the time, under-powered. When I was prayed with to be baptized …

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