The House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government recently unveiled shocking details about the FBI’s intrusion into Catholic churches, bringing to light a clear breach of First Amendment rights for worshippers. This revelation has put Attorney General Merrick Garland in the hot seat, as his previous statements under oath contradict the FBI’s actions.
According to the committee, the FBI sought to place confidential informants within Catholic congregations to investigate potential radicalization. The Bureau had circulated a document outlining its intentions to develop sources in churches nationwide, gaining approval from high-ranking intelligence analysts and counsel.
I specifically asked Merrick Garland whether the FBI was targeting Catholic parishes and he said no. Now it turns out the FBI was using undercover sources in multiple parishes https://t.co/NZMkIXEN47
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) April 10, 2023
In response to these findings, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) issued a subpoena for FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony regarding the religious targeting. Jordan’s letter to Wray emphasizes the necessity for full cooperation, stating that this “shocking information reinforces our need for all responsive documents.”
This blatant attempt at religious surveillance infringes upon the First Amendment rights of the faithful, who should be free to practice their religion without fear of being monitored by government informants. Moreover, this FBI tactic directly contradicts Garland’s previous assurances during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in March, where he maintained that the Department of Justice and FBI held no biases against any religion and were not engaging in such practices.
As a result of these recent revelations, questions arise about whether Garland committed perjury or lacks control over the FBI, which falls under his jurisdiction.
Jordan’s investigation focuses on a withdrawn January 23 memo from the FBI’s Richmond, Virginia, field office. The memo, titled “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities,” suggested reaching out to church leaders to monitor “the warning signs of radicalization.”
Republican lawmakers have accused the FBI of developing an anti-Catholic bias in response to the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade last year, leading to threats against churches and abortion clinics. In his March testimony, Wray expressed shock and immediately withdrew the document from FBI systems, stating that it did not represent the Bureau’s standards.
Furthermore, Wray assured that the FBI does not conduct investigations based on religious affiliation or practices. However, to prevent such incidents in the future, the Inspection Division is reviewing the case, and refresher training for relevant employees is underway.
These recent developments emphasize the need for vigilant oversight of government agencies and their actions, especially when they involve potential breaches of constitutional rights.