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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
11 Feb 2023

NextImg:State AGs Seek Answers From FBI, DOJ Over Targeting of Catholic ‘Extremists’

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares and 19 other Republican state attorneys general expressed “outrage and alarm” Friday following the Feb. 8 leak of an internal FBI memo that characterized Catholics as “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.”

Seeking answers, Miyares pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland for information on how the memo came to exist.

“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,” Miyares noted in a Feb. 10 letter to the officials.

“The FBI must immediately and unequivocally order agency personnel not to target Americans based on their religious beliefs and practices,” he continued. “We also demand that the FBI produce publicly all materials relating to the memorandum and its production.”

The Jan. 23 memo from the FBI Richmond Field Office was published on the UncoverDC website Wednesday by Kyle Seraphin, a former FBI special agent, and whistleblower who was suspended by the bureau in June.

The document specifically targets “radical-traditionalist Catholics” (RTCs), a group the memo’s author holds is characterized by “the rejection of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) as a valid church council” and “frequent adherence to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, and white supremacist ideology.”

As evidence for those conclusions, the memo cites the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, as well as “FBI investigations, local law enforcement agency reporting, and liaison reporting, with varying degrees of corroboration and access.”

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (C) announces investigations on Thomas Jefferson High School’s delay in informing students of national recognitions and the school’s admission policies in Alexandria, Va., on Jan. 4, 2023. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)

“Anti-Catholic bigotry appears to be festering in the FBI, and the Bureau is treating Catholics as potential terrorists because of their beliefs,” Miyares wrote Friday, condemning the memo’s suggestion that the FBI infiltrate places of worship to identify potential extremists.

On Thursday, the FBI National Press Office disavowed the memo, telling The Epoch Times that the document “does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI” and asserting that the bureau would “never conduct investigative activities or open an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity.”

Miyares, however, was unpersuaded, holding that the bureau’s response was merely an attempt at “damage control” after the public outcry.

Further addressing the matter in a statement, the attorney general said: “The leaked memo from our state capital’s FBI office is unacceptable, unconstitutional, and un-American. Frankly, it’s what I would expect from Communist Cuba.

“As Attorney General, I’m responsible for defending Virginians’ rights, and religious freedom is the bedrock of the Constitutions of the United States and of Virginia,” he continued.

“Virginians should not and will not be labeled ‘violent extremists’ by their government because of how they worship, or because of their beliefs.”

Miyares’ letter was also signed by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

Together, they demanded that the FBI and Justice Department stop surveilling Americans based on their religious beliefs and publicly disclose the extent to which they have already done so.