- The Biden administration has been criticized for its treatment of Catholic Americans in recent months, especially after news broke that the FBI was using undercover agents to infiltrate churches, and religious experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation it will likely get worse.
- The DOJ offered a plea deal earlier this week with no jail time to a transgender vandal that spray painted “kid groomers” and “woman haters” on a Catholic church and assaulted several members as well as police officers before being arrested, while opting to raid the house of a Catholic pro-life activist named Mark Houck in 2022 for an alleged assault of an abortion clinic worker.
- “Anti-Catholicism has been said to be the ‘last acceptable prejudice,’” Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, director of the Conscience Project and a fellow at the Institute of Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Biden administration has put Catholic individuals and organizations under an unprecedented level of scrutiny by using the FBI and Department of Justice to infiltrate churches and prosecute members, according to experts that spoke to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
President Joe Biden, the second Catholic president after John F. Kennedy, has talked about his faith on multiple occasions during his career, saying in 2012 that “my religion defines who I am,” but the president’s political positions on abortion and LGBTQ issues have put him and his administration at odds with the church on several occasions. The administration has been criticized for its attacks on the church, including issuing an FBI memo earlier this year calling traditional Catholics a domestic threat.
Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, director of the Conscience Project and a fellow at the Institute of Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America, told the DCNF that the president’s administration has “embraced the thuggery of anti-Catholic bigotry with zeal.”
“Anti-Catholicism has been said to be the ‘last acceptable prejudice,’” Picciotti-Bayer said. “The prosecution of Catholic pro-lifers, FBI witch hunts of attendees of the traditional Latin Mass, the refusal to protect Catholic Supreme Court Justices from grotesque intimidation in front of their homes, pressuring Catholic hospitals to kowtow to the absurd demands of gender ideology, and pulling priestly care from the nation’s top military hospital are just the tip of the iceberg.”
After news broke in February that the FBI had released an internal memo calling members of more traditional churches “Radical-Traditionalist Catholics” and accusing them of being an extreme threat to Americans, Biden remained silent on the issue.
This week it was revealed that the FBI had used at least one undercover informant to spy on Catholic churches to obtain information to create the memo. The undercover operation was revealed during Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan’s investigation into the memo and found that the FBI had been trying to get congregations to help them create “new avenues for tripwire and source development.”
Roger Severino, vice president of domestic policy and the Joseph C. and Elizabeth A. Anderlik fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told the DNCF that during his time as a career attorney for the DOJ’s civil rights department under the Obama and Trump administrations, he came across a similar memo to the one leaked this year.
“There was an investigation of a traditional Catholic organization where we were asked to enforce their rights [and] … in the memo, the attorney … cited the religious beliefs as being somehow radical and therefore a reason not to enforce the law,” Severino said. “I saw it with my own eyes and I spoke up and said, ‘You can’t target a religious group and exclude them from religious protection under the law because you dislike their religious beliefs.’”
Church attacks, specifically against Catholics, have also been on the rise in the last two years, according to a report from the Family Research Council (FRC). Churches across the country are set to experience a record-high level of attacks this year after 69 incidents were reported in the first quarter of 2023.
The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center also announced before the Easter holiday that it was issuing a “cease and desist” order for Catholic priests that operated in the hospital. The order ended a nearly two-decade contract between the hospital and the Holy Name College Friary in favor of a secular defense contracting firm, leaving the “largest Defense Health Agency medical center” effectively without pastoral care.
The DOJ offered a plea deal earlier this week with no jail time to a transgender vandal that spray painted “kid groomers” and “woman haters” on a Catholic church, assaulting several members and police officers before being arrested. The plea deal came in stark contrast to the FBI’s treatment of Catholic father and pro-life activist Mark Houck.
Houck was accused in 2021 of assaulting an abortion clinic worker, and as a result, over 15 FBI agents raided his house on an early October morning and arrested him in front of his wife and children. The DOJ charged Houck with violating the FACE Act, which protects health care and abortion clinics by barring “force with the intent to injure, intimidate, and interfere with anyone because that person is a provider of reproductive health care.”
Houck was later acquitted of the charges after a jury deadlocked in their verdict, but Meg Kilgannon, FRC’s senior fellow for Education Studies, told the DCNF that she worries about the precedent these types of attacks on Catholics may set for the future.
“The Catholic Church is a target for many reasons, and this has always been the case and sadly will never change, ” Kilgannon said. “Even faithful Catholics who try to live out these teachings find them challenging in the best of times, but always worth it, a continual opportunity to strive to serve Christ. So for a President of the United States to constantly message about the ‘soul of America,’ ‘unity,’ and his ‘devout faith’ while at the same time working so brazenly against the Catholic people, Catholic teachings, and the Church herself – let’s just say it’s a grave scandal and a matter for prayer and penance.”
The White House, DOJ and the FBI did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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