In 1912, former Georgia congressman and onetime vice presidential candidate Tom Watson published The Roman Catholic Hierarchy, a reprise of his voluminous anti-Catholic polemics and speeches. To him, Catholics constituted an alien and immoral subversive force bent on turning America into a vassal state of the Vatican. Quoth Watson, “We have heard the potentates of this faith in America confess that, on an issue between our Government and the Pope, they would adhere to Papa.”
Based in no small part on the popularity of his virulent anti-Catholicism, Watson was elected to the U.S. Senate.
By the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan had become a politically powerful organization with more than four million members. The July 1, 1925, issue of The American Standard, the Klan’s official publication, featured an expose headlined Jesuit Hypnotism of Protestants Uncovered. This article contended that, acting under Jesuit mind control, “depraved and enslaved Romanists” had assassinated Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley.
The same issue set forth the Klan’s Program for America, which advocated “[r]ecognition of the fact, that since Roman Catholics give first allegiance to an alien potentate, the pope, who claims supremacy over all secular governments, their claim to citizenship, the ballot, and to public office in this Protestant country is illegitimate, and must be forbidden by law.”
When John Kennedy, a Catholic, ran for president in 1960, groups such as Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State opposed his candidacy because they believed a Catholic’s loyalty would always be to Rome and to his religion and not to the rule of American law.
Kennedy’s presidency should have proved once and for all that Catholics were capable of following the law regardless of their religious beliefs. Given this — and the similar performance by legions of Catholic public servants at all levels of government — you might think that by 2023, being a Catholic would no longer be a justification or basis for invidious treatment.
But, if you believe that, you are wrong. Although the bigotry has been sugarcoated for intellectual consumption, and the Klan robes are being left in the closet, the ugly intolerance and ignorance remain. They come to us today under the cloak of liberal progressivism, which advocates an inclusive society open to all cultures and beliefs — unless you happen to be a traditional practicing pro-life Catholic.
Following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, there has been a nationwide wave of property damage, threats, theft, and arson of Catholic-affiliated pregnancy centers and churches. In testimony before the Senate, Director Christopher Wray insisted that the FBI takes these crimes “very seriously”.
But, despite over 230 such incidents of violence, the FBI has yet to arrest anyone. Instead, in the same period of time, FBI SWAT teams have put the cuffs on 21 pro-life demonstrators.
So, given that track record, is Wray to be believed? Is the FBI truly committed to protecting Catholics and their facilities and churches? Or are Catholics being subjected to special treatment by the FBI?
Consider the following.
On January 23, 2023, an intelligence analyst in the FBI’s Richmond Field Office produced a report on “Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists” and their ties to “Radical Traditionalist Catholics” (RTCs).
According to the report, RTCs are “typically characterized by the rejection of the Second Vatican Council” as well as — and I’m not making this up — a preference for the Latin Mass. It concludes that these characteristics suggest an “adherence to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideology.”
The report recommends that the FBI recruit “Confidential Human Sources” (a/k/a spies and informants) within the Catholic Church as well as establish overt working relationships with trusted Catholics all of whom can advise about the beliefs, activities and utterances of their co-religionists. It also warns that Catholic “places of worship” can be “facilitation platforms” for the promotion of white supremacist violence.
The FBI analysis offers no factual support for these gobsmacking conclusions and recommendations other than a report by the reliably leftist Southern Poverty Law Center (“SPLC”) and articles published by the equally leftist Salon and the Atlantic.
According to the FBI analysis, the SCLC claims that RTCs “embrace extremely conservative social ideas with respect to women” and “may make up the largest single group of serious anti-semites in America.”
But, left unsaid, is that the SPLC, which has no credibility outside the progressive fever swamp, has consistently smeared mainstream conservative groups as hate organizations.
Similarly, the cited Salon articles (“‘Traditional’ Catholics and white ‘Groypers’ forge a new far-right youth movement” and “White nationalists get religion: On the far-right fringe, Catholics and racists forge a movement”) are long on hyperventilating leftist speculation and remarkably short on facts.
So what does this reliance on these lopsidedly leftist, secular, and fanciful sources tell us about today’s FBI? And what may we conclude from the fact that, based on such rank bigotry, the FBI proposed to plant spies among America’s 70 million Catholics and to monitor activities at their churches?
It is the peculiar conceit of woke leftists that they are too intelligent, educated, and enlightened to be swayed or motivated by base prejudice or ignorance. But the FBI’s proposal to save secular society from the depredations of traditional Catholics bears an eerie similarity to the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan to protect Protestant America from the alien influence of Catholicism.
When the report was leaked to the media, the FBI announced that it didn’t meet its “exacting standards” and was being removed from its computer system. The Bureau followed up with the promise that it “will never conduct investigative activities or open an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity.”
But, after its baseless and never-ending Trump-Russia collusion smear, use of illegal FISA warrants to spy on associates of Donald Trump, partisan whitewashing of Hillary Clinton’s illegal storage of classified material on her unsecure computer system, wanton and baseless destruction of Trump National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn, ongoing investigations of parents who protest at school board meetings, and SWAT raids on the homes of pro-life Catholics, the FBI has made its position clear.
The FBI has become the armed muscle and secret police of the Democrat party. It has eroded its credibility such that, despite assurances to the contrary, it would come as no surprise to learn that the Bureau has proceeded to target and investigate those traditional Papists whom it deems to pose a clear and present danger to the brave, new woke secular order.
“EDUOFFICIALS” (short for “education officials”) is the FBI “threat tag” assigned to its investigations of parents who dare to publicly challenge the actions of woke school boards. So here’s a suggestion. When the Bureau goes after the Catholics, how about it use “TUNROME” as the threat tag? That’s a truncation of the fabled “tunnel to Rome” which Catholics have been accused of digging ever since their arrival in America.
George Parry is a former federal and state prosecutor. He blogs at knowledgeisgood.net and may be reached by email at email@example.com.