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Tipsheet

Republicans Are Demanding Answers After FBI, DOJ Attempted to Label Catholics as 'Potential Terrorists'

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Republicans are calling out the FBI and the Justice Department (DOJ) after a leaked internal FBI memo revealed that the agency had plans to label Catholics as 'potential terrorists." 

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A coalition of 20 GOP state attorneys general, led by Virginia attorney general Jason Miyares, is demanding answers from FBI Director Christopher Wray and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, saying they are "horrified" to learn that the FBI's Richmond office circulated a report linking "radical traditionalist Catholics" to white supremacists and violent extremism.

"Anti-Catholic bigotry appears to be festering in the FBI, and the Bureau is treating Catholics as potential terrorists because of their beliefs," a letter addressed to Wray and Garland read. "We are the chief legal officers of our respective States charged not only with enforcing the law but also with securing the civil rights of our citizens. Therefore, the FBI must immediately and unequivocally order agency personnel not to target Americans based on their religious beliefs and practices," they said, adding that they will take "appropriate means to protect the rights of our constituents as guaranteed by our Constitution."

The memo, which was leaked on January 23, "identifies 'radical-traditionalist Catholic[s]' as potential 'racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.'" It also cited several left-wing sources as evidence of white supremacy in the religion. 

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Earlier this week, the FBI retracted the memo saying that it does not meet the agency's "exacting standards" and that there would be an internal review.

"The targeting of Catholics for treatment as 'violent extremists' because of the language in which they pray or because of the beliefs to which they subscribe is unacceptable, unconstitutional, and deeply un-American," the letter continued. 

Miyares argued that millions of people were drawn to the U.S. because of their right to practice Catholicism, which the Republicans accuse the FBI of pushing anti-Catholic sentiments.

"Anti-Catholic bigotry appears to be festering in the FBI, and the bureau is treating Catholics as potential terrorists because of their beliefs," he added. 

According to the AGs, the memo "appears to accuse the Supreme Court and the Governor of Virginia of '[c]atalyzing' the bad Catholics through 'legislation or judicial decisions in areas such as abortion rights, immigration, affirmative action, and LGBTQ protections.'"

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said that memo would be used as further evidence of the government's attempt to suppress America's First Amendment. 

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"A leaked FBI report revealed that the Bureau's Richmond, Virginia Division was investigating the threat of 'white supremacy' among Catholics," Jordan said in a tweet. "How could that be? Democrats tell us the government isn't weaponized against the First Amendment!"


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