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Justice Department Targets Traditional Catholics as Domestic Terrorists

Gavel With Legal Papers

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) represents on its website that it upholds four values:

  • Independence and Impartiality.  We work each day to earn the public’s trust by following the facts and the law wherever they may lead, without prejudice or improper influence.
  • Honesty and Integrity.  Our employees adhere to the highest standards of ethical behavior, mindful that as public servants we must work to earn the trust of, and inspire confidence in, the public we serve.
  • Respect.  Our employees value differences in people and in ideas and treat everyone with fairness, dignity, and compassion.
  • Excellence.  We work every day to provide the highest level of service to the American people and to be a responsible steward of the taxpayers’ dollars.

Let’s examine one recent leaked analysis to evaluate how well the DOJ has been doing thus far in 2023 according to the standards it sets for itself.

An FBI whistleblower revealed that the FBI’s Richmond, Virginia Field Office completed an “intelligence” analysis dated January 23, 2023 that describes:

the increasingly observed interest of racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) in radical-traditionalist Catholic (RTC) ideology almost certainly presents opportunities for threat mitigation through the exploration of new avenues for tripwires and source development.  [Emphasis added.]

The FBI document accused Catholics of “an over-emphasis in white US nationalism.”  The FBI further describes these dangerous Catholics as having rejected “the Second Vatican Council” and finds that a preference for the Catholic Mass in Latin instead of the vernacular is a warning sign.  

The FBI’s conclusion that “Traditionalist Catholics” are tied to “violent extremists” was based in part on the work of the discredited, leftist Southern Poverty Law Center.

Let’s compare these slurs on Traditionalist Catholics to the DOJ’s values:  Does DOJ show “impartiality” without “prejudice?”  Does DOJ inspire the “confidence” of the American People?  Is DOJ treating people with “respect?”  Is citing the discredited SPLC evidence of “excellence?”  With its vitriol against Roman Catholics, DOJ has sunk to new lows by every standard.

While there have always been serious problems at DOJ, during the last Administration, there was a commitment made to religious freedom.  On October 20, 2017, the DOJ issued guidance for all Executive Departments and Agencies interpreting the religious liberty protections in federal law.  That guidance was directed by President Trump’s Executive Order No. 13798.  The prior Justice Department’s guidance sources Religious Liberty to our Creator, giving it the high and lofty position it should hold in our pantheon of rights:

Religious liberty is a foundational principle of enduring importance in America, enshrined in our Constitution and other sources of federal law.  As James Madison explained in his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, the free exercise of religion “is in its nature an unalienable right” because the duty owed to one’s Creator “is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.”

It only took a little over five years for the Justice Department to move from promising to protect Americans who are exercising their religious freedom, to targeting those same people as “Radical-Traditionalist Catholics.”

Digging deeper into the report, we see the FBI’s politics revealed in its concern that RTCs might have common interests such as opposition to abortion rights, affirmative action, immigration, and “LGBT protections.”  If people of faith oppose the leftist political agenda, they must be violent extremists.

It is not just abortion that has gotten the Church in Biden’s crosshairs.  The memo also cited an article in the far-left magazine, “The Atlantic,” which “slammed Catholic rosary beads for increasingly being associated with right-wing Christians, especially those who are gun owners” as ammunition for its assault on Catholics.

The Biden Administration may have other reasons to target Catholics.  On June 18, 2021, America’s Catholic bishops approved a document instructing Catholic churches to deny Holy Communion to pro-abortion elected officials.  One such elected official, of course, is President Joe Biden, nominally the second Catholic President.  During his 2020 campaign, the St. Anthony Catholic Church in South Carolina denied communion to candidate Biden for the same reason.  But for whatever reasons, the “Catholic” President’s administration seems to have practicing Catholics squarely in its crosshairs.  His Justice Department attorneys recently did their best to jail pro-life Catholic father Mark Houck for peacefully protesting at abortion clinics, discussed in our article last week.

On February 10, 2023, a coalition of 20 state attorneys general wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray to protest.  It complained that the report extolled “opportunities for threat mitigation through the exploration of new avenues for tripwire and source development.”  In plain English, it was a recommendation that the DOJ send FBI spies into Catholic churches in a witch hunt for “traditional Catholics” among apparently more “politically correct” “non-traditional” Catholics.

The letter blasted the DOJ for the “un-American and unconstitutional memorandum,” demanding that Garland and Wray “immediately and unequivocally order agency personnel not to target Americans based on their religious beliefs and practices.” Emphasizing that “anti-Catholic bigotry appears to be festering,” the attorneys general wrote, “[S]pying on Catholics in their churches and cathedrals is an absurd use of federal law-enforcement and counterintelligence resources.” The letter demanded that DOJ reveal to the American public the extent to which they have engaged in infiltrating and collecting intelligence on Traditional Catholics.

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chair of the U.S. bishops’ religious liberty committee, blistered the memo’s “religious profiling” of Catholics.  “A preference for traditional forms of worship and holding closely to the Church’s teachings on marriage, family, human sexuality, and the dignity of the human person does not equate with extremism,”

Bishop Barry Knestout of the Diocese of Richmond, in perhaps the understatement of the month, stated: “The leaked document should be troubling and offensive to all communities of faith, as well as all Americans.”  Indeed, it should, and it must if the nation is to survive.

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