Civil rights attorney Leo Terrell raged against the FBI for issuing a since-withdrawn memo that advised cultivating sources within traditional Catholic parishes, which it classified as potential hotbeds of extremism.
The Jan. 2, 2023, memo from the FBI’s Richmond Field Office, released by former FBI employee and whistleblower Kyle Seraphin, suggested that traditional Catholics are prone to “anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist” ideologies.
“God and religion are a threat to the extreme left. This is scary, people need to understand this,” Terrell said on Fox News. “They are launching an investigation into traditional Catholic churches without criminal activity! Where’s the evidence of any crime? This is a war by the extreme left against religion. The Constitution, the First Amendment — meaningless to the left. And to launch an investigation to try to infiltrate Catholic churches without any evidence of criminal activity, Americans need to understand that the far-left have weaponized the FBI. This is not the FBI I grew up with.”
The FBI retracted the memo and vowed to conduct a review on the document in a Feb. 9 statement to the Daily Caller. The original memo called for “source development” within traditionalist Catholic communities and cited reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center. (RELATED: Has The FBI Arrested Suspects In 150 Attacks On Pro-Life Groups And Churches?)
Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman of the Weaponization Committee, subpoenaed the FBI to provide documents related to the memo. The committee learned that the FBI relied on at least “one undercover employee to produce its analysis” and that the agency directed its agents reach out to Catholic parishes “to develop sources” among church leadership and clergy.
“We now know the FBI, relying on information derived from at least one undercover employee, sought to use local religious organizations as ‘new avenues for tripwire and source development.’ Chilling,” Jordan wrote on Twitter.
Attorney General Merrick Garland disavowed the memo at a March 1 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing when Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley pressed him on it.
The agency’s outreach plan also included contacting “mainline Catholic parishes” and local “diocesan leadership” to serve as “suspicious activity tripwires” by familiarizing them with alleged signs of “radicalization” and “report on suspicious activity” from the targeted churches, according to the House Weaponization Committee’s letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
The letter also claimed that “the FBI relied on at least one undercover agent to produce its analysis.”