FBI Targeted Catholics in ‘Domestic Extremism’ Investigation

The latest report from the House GOP Weaponization of Government Committee found that the “FBI abused its counterterrorism tools to target Catholic Americans as potential domestic terrorists.”

“While the FBI claims it ‘does not categorize investigations as domestic terrorism based on the religious beliefs—to include Catholicism—of the subject involved,’ an FBI-wide memorandum originating from the FBI’s Richmond Field Office did just that,” the report said.

Much of the information comes from whistleblowers.

“Without the disclosure of the brave whistleblower, the Richmond memorandum would still be operative in FBI systems, violating the religious liberties of millions of Catholic Americans,” the committee wrote.

“Whistleblower disclosures reveal that the FBI interviewed a priest and choir director affiliated with a Catholic church in Richmond, Virginia while preparing the memorandum to inform on the parishioner under investigation,” the committee describes.

FBI agents were unable to “define” the term “radical-traditionalist Catholic” while preparing the memorandum.

The committee revealed that the “FBI singled out Americans who are pro-life, pro-family, and support the biological basis for sex and gender distinction as potential domestic terrorists.”

“Without considerable criticism in the wake of the disclosure of the memorandum, the document would have remained in an FBI-wide system,” the committee details. “At the time of the memorandum’s disclosure, FBI officials were discussing turning the memorandum into an external, public-facing document highlighting the threats of ‘radical’ Catholics. Most concerning, FBI Richmond still desires to convey this information to other field offices about ‘radical-traditionalist Catholics.'”

Although “religious liberty is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Consitution,” the Richmond memorandum is a “stark reminder that sincerely held religious beliefs must be vigorously protected or be subjugated to an overzealous federal law enforcement focused on the ends, with little regard for the means,” the report notes.

“Due to the actions of a brave whistleblower, this document was introduced into the public eye largely before it could be acted on. Perhaps most concerning is that without the whistleblower, this document would still be actionable in FBI systems, potentially endangering the religious liberties of countless Americans who might be investigated simply for espousing certain sincerely held views.”

The committee concluded the report by imploring the FBI to take “decisive action to rebuild public trust.”

“FBI Richmond has not issued a public apology or removed any of the employees involved in creating the document. Moreover, the FBI continues to resist several of the Committee’s requests for transparency and answers.”