This is the article that appeared in the January/February 2024 edition of Catalyst, our monthly journal. The date that prints out reflects the day that it was uploaded to our website. For a more accurate date of when the article was first published, check out the news release, here.

William A. Donohue

The FBI spy operation on Catholics has nothing to do with dissident Catholics—the focus is 100 percent on those Catholics who are “pro-life,” “pro-family,” and who “support the biological basis for sex and gender distinction.” These practicing Catholics are labeled “domestic terrorists.”

The use of the present tense is purposeful: the FBI, according to the probe conducted by the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the FBI, says the Bureau still believes that traditional Catholics pose a “domestic threat to our country.”

The FBI did not dream this caper up by itself: it was assisted by left-wing media and activist organizations.

Regarding the infamous memo that outlined the FBI probe of traditional Catholics, we learned the following: “The two FBI employees who co-authored the memorandum later told FBI internal investigators that they knew the sources cited in the memorandum had a political bias—sources including the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Salon, and The Atlantic.”

Three years ago, The Atlantic published a piece titled, “The Real Threat to American Catholicism.” And who might that be? Why the bishops, of course. It was their opposition to abortion that made them a threat to Catholicism.

Two years ago, Salon ran a story on how the Catholic Church is “dictating reproductive health care—even in blue states.” It was concluded that we have too many Catholic hospitals nationwide, facilities that do not permit abortion. That is the source of the alleged dictatorship.

SPLC is the real clincher. As corrupt as it is partisan, it can no longer lay claim to being a beacon of information on hate groups in the United States. Its penchant for smearing innocent individuals and institutions is legendary.

The Report said that one of the FBI analysts even acknowledged that the “SPLC was known to have a political bias.” Despite this, they accepted “with high confidence” the information they gleaned from SPLC on the Catholic Church (their italics.)

On the SPLC website, they offer a list of “hate groups.” Lumped in with real hate groups is an organization of mothers concerned about what their children are being taught in the public schools. It has 220 entries on Moms for Liberty. Only a deranged person would consider them a hate group.

Other organizations that espouse traditional values, but are in no way hateful—yet are labeled as such by SPLC—include the Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom and the American College of Pediatricians.

In 2017, when Carol Swain was a professor at Vanderbilt University, she recommended against allowing the president of SPLC to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee. She did so for a principled reason. “Rather than monitoring hate groups,” she said, “the Southern Poverty Law Center has become one.” As a result, SPLC conducted a smear campaign against her, claiming she is “an apologist for white supremacists.” Swain is black.

Other notable Americans who are anything but hateful, but who have been branded as such by SPLC, include Somali refuge Ayaan Hirsi Ali, political scientist Guenter Lewy, and Princeton professor Robert P. George (he is a member of the Catholic League’s board of advisors).

SPLC’s smear tactics backfired when a noted evangelical organization, D. James Kennedy Ministries, sued SPLC in 2017 for defamation. It accused the far-left “hate group” specialist of making “false and misleading descriptions,” subjecting it to “disgrace, ridicule, odium, and contempt in the estimation of the public.”

In other words, SPLC is a master propagandist, branding as “hate groups” institutions that are merely advocates for traditional moral values.

One might think that Antifa, which is a real terrorist group—it is responsible for countless acts of violence against innocent persons—might be included in SPLC’s list of hate groups (if for no other reason than to give it cover as an objective source). Instead, it is one of their biggest fans. In 2020, it posted an article entitled, “Designating Antifa as domestic terrorist organization is dangerous, threatens civil liberties.” Just substitute the Klan for Antifa to get a sense of how absurd this sounds.

SPLC agents know a thing or two about domestic terrorism. In early 2023 one of its attorneys, Thomas Webb Jurgens, was charged with domestic terrorism after engaging in violence at a future Atlanta police training facility.

Having an anti-Catholic cell group in the FBI is bad enough. It is made worse when its agents turn to anti-Catholic journalistic sources, and to anti-American outlets. Indeed, it makes us wonder why these FBI employees are still on the public payroll, funded, in part, by traditional Catholics.

Relying on radical journalistic and activist sources for dirt on the Catholic Church is one thing; it is quite another if outsiders actually planted the idea within the FBI that traditional Catholics pose a domestic threat.

There are enough left-wing Catholics in Washington these days to make it plausible that some of them pitched this probe to the FBI. That is why I have asked Rep. Jim Jordan to look into this.

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