Earlier this month, a former FBI special agent blew the whistle on the agency’s interest, as laid out in an internal memo, in investigating those of the Catholic faith.
Former agent Kyle Seraphin specifically reported on an internal memo in which the FBI talked about targeting “radical traditionalist” Catholics who may have possible ties to “the far-right white nationalist movement.”
“The FBI’s Richmond Division would like to protect Virginians from the threat of ‘white supremacy,’ which it believes has found a home within Catholics who prefer the Latin Mass,” Seraphin wrote at UncoverDC.com, as previously reported.
These accusations were reportedly based on reports from the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center.
Internal FBI memo warns against ‘radical-traditionalist Catholic ideology’, whistleblower says https://t.co/WWCVcDfLLR pic.twitter.com/Afq1ax3zf0
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) February 10, 2023
Days later, members of some of the Catholic groups that are being targeted by the FBI are now speaking out.
Take Carol Roads, a member of the Catholic media site Church Militant.
“We don’t hate anyone. We’re very peaceful. This is America. We have the right to practice our faith. It was really over the top to hear all this. This is crazy and doesn’t make any sense,” she told the New York Post.
Her boss, Michael Voris, an Emmy-winning former CBS News producer who now leads the Church Militant, concurred.
“The FBI report is based on ‘reporting’ by far-left extremist groups and media outlets that demonstrate zero understanding of Catholic theology. Those voluminous errors then found their way into this FBI report where flat-out false conclusions are drawn,” he said in a statement.
“Church Militant … in no way hates women, Blacks, Jews, immigrants or anyone else we may be accused of hating. To disagree with social or political points of view does not signify ‘hate.’ It signifies disagreement,” he added.
Then there’s Atila Sinke Guimarães of Tradition in Action, another Catholic group that’s being targeted by the FBI.
“It’s an empty accusation of the SPLC and I wonder why the FBI uses such a biased organization as the source of the document,” she said to the Post.
The SPLC is, as noted earlier, a discredited organization:
‘Highly profitable scam’: Southern Poverty Law Center ‘ripping off donors,’ former staffer says https://t.co/AKNjE6EQZA pic.twitter.com/AGnfTpeAKw
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) March 22, 2019
In a blog post on Tradition in Action’s website, Guimarães added that this isn’t the first time the group’s come under attack because of the SPLC. The big difference, she noted, is that this time government has gotten involved in the attack.
“For us at TIA, what this new episode reflects is that we are leaving the regime of democratic liberty and respect for one’s beliefs and entering the dark zone of a growing dictatorship,” she wrote.
“It is an expressive episode that tells us a lot about the goals of the FBI. Unfortunately, far from being an organization to guarantee order in the United States, it became an instrument to punish those who do not agree with a certain socialist/communist agenda,” she added.
Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, is also speaking out.
“Antifa is a threat, BLM is a threat. That’s where the FBI should focus. These people [traditional Catholics] are nice people. They’re not a violent threat to America … Who the hell is the FBI to stick their nose in their business? It’s ridiculous,” he said.
My statement on the Richmond FBI’s
“anti-catholic” memo. Thank you AG @JasonMiyaresVA for looking into this! pic.twitter.com/uOoyvO3hYN
— Josh Quill (@JoshQuillVA) February 15, 2023
The loudest pushback is coming from the 20 attorneys general who sent a letter to U.S. AG Merrick Garland this week condemning the FBI’s plans.
“We write with outrage and alarm to address the anti-Catholic internal memorandum produced by the FBI’s Richmond Field Office on Jan. 23, 2023, which was released to the public this week,” the letter reads.
“The FBI must immediately and unequivocally order agency personnel not to target Americans based on their religious beliefs and practices. We also demand that the FBI produce publicly all materials relating to the memorandum and its production,” it continues.
The letter also addresses the FBI’s immediate response, which had been to retract the memo and issue an apology statement of sorts.
“While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, this particular field office product — disseminated only within the FBI — regarding racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI,” the bureau said in a statement.
But the AGs weren’t convinced.
“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,” they continued in their letter.
“It assures us only that the FBI is embarrassed at the public revelation of the memorandum’s contents,” they concluded.
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