House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is sounding the alarm on the FBI’s investigation of Catholic and Christian churches as part of their effort to combat domestic terrorism. FOX News reports that the internal documents obtained by Jordan and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La) showed that the FBI sent at least one undercover agent into parishes “to develop sources among the clergy and church leadership to inform on Americans practicing their faith.”
According to the report from Jordan, “the FBI expressed interest in ‘leverag[ing] existing sources and/or initiat[ing] Type 5 Assessments to develop new sources with the placement and access.” Additionally, the FBI has hoped to “sensitize religious congregations ‘to the warning signs of radicalization and enlist their assistance to serve as suspicious activity tripwires.'”
The 18-page document was finally handed over to lawmakers on Monday, nearly two months after Jordan’s and Johnson’s initial request in February. In a letter Jordan wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray, he requested more documents related to the investigation of churches on behalf of the House Judiciary Committee.
Jordan called the FBI’s investigation of Catholic Americans “outrageous,” noting in his letter that “Americans attend church to worship and congregate for their spiritual and personal betterment. They must be free to exercise their fundamental First Amendment rights without worrying that the FBI may have planted so-called ‘tripwire’ sources or other informants in their houses of worship.”
An initial leak pertaining to a document that “appeared to outline a plan to ‘mitigate the threat of Radical-Traditionalist Catholics,'” raised concerns of Republican lawmakers who were questioning whether the FBI’s efforts violated the Constitution.
During congressional testimony, Wray shared that he was “aghast” when he learned of the FBI’s efforts targeting Catholics and monitoring them in their places of worship. He explained that the FBI took immediate action to “withdraw it and remove it” from their systems,” noting that such action “does not reflect FBI standards.” Wray also asserted that the FBI “not conduct investigations based on religious affiliation or practices, full stop. We have also now ordered our inspection division to take a look at how this happened and try to figure out how we can make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.”