On this Sunday today’s read is from Tyler O’Neil, managing editor of The Daily Signal. Here’s a portion:
Two parishioners at a Latin Mass Catholic church in rural Northern Virginia say they witnessed suspicious activity from what looked like FBI vehicles in February.
The two witnesses told The Daily Signal that they saw two cars approach the church, drive through the parking lot as if they were writing down license plate numbers, and then leave, on two separate instances.
The incidents took place about a month after the FBI published an internal memo urging agents to develop “sources with access,” including in “places of worship,” to probe an alleged relationship between “racially or ethnically motivated, violent extremists” and “radical-traditional Catholic ideology.”
Read the entire exclusive article here.
IN-DEPTH: Christians Say Government Targets Them Because They Oppose Left-Wing Agenda
J. Edgar Hoover FBI building in Washington on March 28, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
By Kevin Stocklin, Epoch Times
April 25, 2023
Updated: April 25, 2023
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) issued a subpoena to the FBI earlier this month demanding information on its alleged program to surveil Catholics for “signs of radicalization,” which some say is only one component of a larger agenda by the Biden administration to target people of faith.
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Jordan wrote that whistleblower testimony and heavily redacted documents from the FBI “show how the FBI sought to enlist Catholic houses of worship as potential sources to monitor and report on their parishioners.” Among other things, Jordan’s subpoena states that the FBI “relied on the Southern Poverty Law Center to suggest that certain kinds of Catholic Americans may be domestic terrorists.”
The FBI has disavowed the document, declaring that there would be an internal review, but several Republican attorneys general said they weren’t satisfied with the FBI’s response.
“Some of our first states were founded as safe havens for religious dissenters,” Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares wrote in a letter to Wray and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. “There is no right more sacred to American democracy than the right to worship freely.”
Nineteen other attorneys general joined Miyares in the letter.
“Anti-Catholic bigotry appears to be festering in the FBI, and the bureau is treating Catholics as potential terrorists because of their beliefs,” it reads.
“The FBI’s scrubbing of the document from its systems and the purported ‘review’ of the process that created it in no way reassures us that this memorandum does not reflect a broader program of secretive surveillance of American Catholics or other religious adherents, and infiltration of their houses of worship. It assures us only that the FBI is embarrassed at the public revelation of the memorandum’s contents.”
Mike McDonald, communications director for the Catholic League, a civil rights organization, told The Epoch Times that President Joe Biden is “the most anti-Catholic president in American history.”
“And by that, I mean that he’s actively working against the church and fundamentally trying to undermine the teachings of Catholicism,” he said.
Peter Breen, an attorney at the Thomas More Society, which has acted as defense counsel for pro-life activists who have been charged by the Department of Justice, told The Epoch Times that pro-life protesters at abortion clinics are being charged with conspiracies to violate rights under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and could be sentenced to up to 10 years in a federal penitentiary.
Breen successfully defended Mark Houck, a pro-life protester who was arrested by the FBI in front of his family in September 2022, after local authorities declined to press charges following an altercation at an abortion clinic.
“They sent 25 federal agents to his home at 7 o’clock in the morning and dragged him out,” Breen said. “He obviously did not resist, but they made a spectacle of arresting him with large rifles, ballistic shields, battering rams, and they did it for a very specific purpose—to scare pro-life people; not just Mark and his wife and family, but pro-life people across the country, that they should fear that the federal government would come and knock on the door, and take them away.”
By contrast, some say, federal law enforcement has done little against violent attacks, including assaults and firebombings, against pro-life individuals and institutions.
“[The FBI] does have a mandate to stop these types of attacks, and repeatedly does nothing,” McDonald said. “When traditionalists speak, when conservatives speak, it is an act of violence. But the violence that [left-wing people] commit in the street regularly is just speech.”
“If you are pro-choice on abortion, you can get away with numerous horrible crimes,” Breen said. “But someone who is pro-life and did no harm to anyone will have the full weight of the U.S. government deployed against them.”
Since the May 2022 leak of the Supreme Court decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, more than 100 churches and pro-life pregnancy centers have been attacked. The Family Research Council (FRC) reports that, as of March, there have been 39 cases of churches being vandalized and 64 cases of pro-life centers being vandalized, firebombed, or otherwise attacked. In addition, the FRC reports more than 20 cases of assaults on Christians and pro-life individuals, disruptions of church services, bomb threats, and other actions.
A pro-abortion group called Jane’s Revenge claimed responsibility for at least 18 of the incidents of vandalism and firebombing. The FBI stated that it was investigating the incidents. However, few arrests have been made.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) told Garland during a March 2 hearing, “You have one tier of justice for people that are conservatives and another for those that are on the left.”
Blackburn told Garland that, for all the attacks on pro-life organizations, only two people have been indicted; whereas 25 people were indicted under the FACE Act, which protects abortion centers.
Garland responded: “We are very concerned about these kinds of firebombings, and I agree with you that they’re happening around the United States. The FBI has put its resources into this, we are investigating it in every way, we offered rewards for anyone who has information.”
“You told me earlier that you didn’t know who Jane’s Revenge is,” Blackburn told Garland. “They are all over Twitter.
“I’m going to do you a favor. I am going to send you a letter with a whole lot of Twitter and different feeds to help you in that investigation for the Hope Clinic.”
In an attempted firebombing, a Molotov cocktail was thrown through a window of the Hope Clinic, a pro-life pregnancy crisis center in Nashville, Tennessee, in June 2022. “Jane’s Revenge” was spray painted on the outside of the clinic.
“[My constituents] want to trust the DOJ; they want to be able to trust their government; they are very concerned about what appears to be, by actions, two tiers of justice. And this is something that they do not see as equal treatment under the law,” Blackburn said.
Breen said his organization has hired private investigators “to try to get relevant evidence and then hopefully to hold those who have done these acts of vandalism to account.”
“We waited patiently for the law enforcement officials who have the broad power of government to do their work, and we have waited long enough,” Breen said. “Private citizens should not have to pay out of their own pockets to try to get justice when you’ve got a group of individuals doing violence and vandalism to their nonprofit charities, to their churches.
“With the awesome power that the government has to locate any one of us, to know exactly where we are at any moment, to know how we’re spending money, how we communicate—it defies logic to think that the government doesn’t know who the large majority of the vandals and violent individuals who have done these terrible things to pregnancy centers and churches are, and where they are, and what they are up to.”
In addition to law enforcement, the Biden administration has been criticized for attempting to force people of faith to act against their consciences in areas such as abortion and transgender surgeries. The Equality Act, which Biden supports and which was passed by a Democrat-controlled House in 2021 but wasn’t passed by the Senate, prohibits discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity; it also places its enforcement above the right to practice religion.
“President Biden himself has spoken about how he supports the Equality Act, which would completely eviscerate anything resembling conscience rights,” McDonald said. “He would force Catholic hospitals, Catholic doctors, Catholic health care providers to perform abortions.”
In addition, other federal agencies under Biden, such as the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, are interpreting Title IX, a law written to ensure equal treatment for women in educational organizations that receive federal funding, to classify refusal to perform abortions or transgender surgeries as sexual discrimination.
“Apparently, whenever they talk about abortion, they can figure out what a woman is,” McDonald said.
“The Christian and Catholic hospitals being forced to do transgender surgeries, abortions, that sort of conscience-violating conduct, it requires an utter disregard for both the spirit and the letter of our religious liberties and First Amendment rights,” Breen said.
“These efforts are so aggressive and they’re so pervasive, not just at the federal level, but they’re happening in more liberal states too; and so it’s not hard to conclude that this is an organized effort by a group of people that really want to make an example of people of faith and institutions of faith to get them to stop.”
On college campuses, the Department of Education has been working to overturn a Trump executive order that required colleges and universities to give equal treatment and funding to religious student organizations.
“Over the past few years, we have seen a concerning increase in incidents on college campuses where free speech and free association of students has been restricted due to religious beliefs,” Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) stated, introducing the Equal Campus Access Act of 2023 to reinstate religious rights at schools. “Students should not have to give up their First Amendment rights of speech, religion, and association to attend a public college.”
In addition, the Biden administration last week barred Catholic priests from ministering to service members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Just before Easter, Walter Reed issued a cease-and-desist letter to the Holy Name College Friary, stating that they must stop providing religious services at Walter Reed. Instead, the contract for “pastoral care” was granted to Mack Global LLC, a defense contractor that provides janitorial supplies and industrial machinery, among other things.
Anti-Christian rhetoric has also heated up in left-wing media outlets, some of which argue that actions against Christians may be justified by what they perceive as a threat of “Christian nationalism.”
Under the headline “January 6th May Have Been Only the First Wave of Christian Nationalist Violence,” Time, a news publication, wrote: “We are forgetting that January 6th was very much a religious event—white Christian nationalism on display. We must remember that fact. Because evidence is mounting that white Christian nationalism could provide the theological cover for more events like it.”
Another article, printed by ABC news and titled “‘Christian nationalism’ threatens democracy, some experts say,” stated that “experts say there also are links between Christian nationalism and far-right groups or movements.”
An article in Salon magazine titled “How Christian nationalism drove the insurrection: A religious history of Jan. 6” cited Christian speeches and symbols during the Jan. 6 riots and stated that “no matter how explicit—and violent—the religious rhetoric swirling around Stop the Steal was, it was little recognized before the Jan. 6 attack.”
The article quotes Anthea Butler, religious studies chair at the University of Pennsylvania, who said the role of Christianity in politics “hasn’t just been this alliance of how to get people elected, but has had this element of things that have fed upon each other to create a monster that threatens democracy.”
Biden often cites his Catholic faith and frequently adds phrases such as “God willing” and “by God” to his speeches, but many Christians take little comfort from that.
“[Biden] is fundamentally trying to remake America, and the church stands in his way,” McDonald said. “And if you can’t destroy the church with all of his policies, then he’s going to try to co-opt the church as much as possible.”
“Traditional Christian expressions of faith are very much at odds with the Biden administration and the Democratic agenda,” Breen said. “Whether you’re looking at the ‘woke’ agenda, the transgender agenda, or the abortion agenda, traditional Christian principles and faith elements stand opposed, diametrically and coherently, to those left-wing philosophies.
“And it’s not just Christianity; traditional Judaic, same thing; traditional Muslim, same thing. And people of faith may have their theological differences, but as a whole, they should all be united in opposition to the progressive, ‘woke’ agenda.”
According to the World Watch List, compiled by Open Doors, which advocates on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide, acts of violence targeted at Christians are today at the highest level since it began collecting data 30 years ago.
“Today more than 360 million Christians experience high and extreme levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith,” the report reads. “In 1993 when the Open Doors World Watch List started, Christians faced high, very high or extreme levels of faith in only 40 countries; 30 years on that number has nearly doubled to 76 countries. That means that worldwide 1 in 7 Christians now experience at least ‘high’ levels of persecution and discrimination.”
Examples of persecution found in the study include execution, imprisonment, enslavement, kidnapping, rape, and forced marriages. Open Doors was founded in the late 1950s before the fall of communism in Europe, which freed those living in the Soviet bloc from religious persecution. Today, “authoritarianism is rising again across the globe with the smash and squeeze of persecution for Christians intensifying in countries such as China, Myanmar and Turkey,” the report reads.
On March 27, a person who identified as transgender murdered six people, including three children, in a Christian school in Nashville. The following day, NBC news ran an article titled “Fear pervades Tennessee’s trans community amid focus on Nashville shooter’s gender identity.”
The Department of Justice didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
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