EXCLUSIVE: DOJ Must Defend Catholic Churches From Expected Pro-Abortion Attacks, Leader Says

EXCLUSIVE: DOJ Must Defend Catholic Churches From Expected Pro-Abortion Attacks, Leader Says

FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—A prominent Catholic organization is calling on the Department of Justice to defend Catholic churches from anticipated pro-abortion attacks, pointing to the disparities in the DOJ’s enforcement of a law protecting both abortion clinics and churches.

In a letter first obtained by The Daily Signal, CatholicVote President Brian Burch calls on Attorney General Merrick Garland to detail what steps the DOJ plans to take to “combat the incessant attacks against Catholic churches.”

“How much more violence needs to happen before you will act?” he asks Garland. “Why is the FACE Act being enforced against Holocaust survivors, but not [against] those who attempt to destroy churches or even kill Catholics?”

The letter references President Joe Biden’s administration’s focus on prosecuting pro-life activists through the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. As recently as April 3, the DOJ announced that a federal judge found four pro-life activists guilty of violating the FACE Act—including an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor, Eva Edl.

“We have had enough of the Biden administration prosecuting pro-lifers while ignoring attacks against Catholic churches across the country,” Burch told The Daily Signal on Tuesday.

“Attorney General Garland’s silence on these hate crimes is deafening,” he added. “Many more attacks are expected this year if he continues to turn a blind eye. It is well past time for the Biden administration to act.”

CatholicVote points out to the DOJ that a man in Verona, New Jersey, set a Catholic Church on fire on April 4. This was the third time since 2018 that this individual, named Elliot Bennett, 42, had “engaged in violence and vandalism against the church,” Burch said. Bennett had been charged with criminal mischief and a hate crime related to prior incidents.

“The Verona incident was the 21st attack on a Catholic church in 2024, the 247th attack since Catholic churches across the country were put under organized siege by pro-abortion domestic terrorists after the Supreme Court leak [of a pending ruling overturning Roe v. Wade] in May 2022, and the 412th attack since general civil unrest swept the nation in May 2020,” Burch wrote. “We have found evidence of arrests in only about 25% of these cases, and zero federal prosecutions.”

The FACE Act protects churches in the same way that it protects abortion clinics, Burch emphasized.

“And yet under your leadership, the Biden administration has refused to prosecute a single act of violence against a Catholic church despite many other cases of arson and firebombing; pro-abortion protesters blocking church entrances and disrupting Masses; and even physical assaults on priests and parishioners, among many other types of violence,” the CatholicVote leader said.

“These attacks have caused at least $25 million in quantifiable damage to churches and instilled fear into hundreds of Catholic communities,” he added.

Though the DOJ promised CatholicVote in December 2021 that it would conduct a 15-day review to ensure that appropriate resources are being deployed to protect houses of worship, this review apparently has not occurred. And according to Burch, the violence has not only continued, but “increased, unabated.”

“This problem is taking on new urgency this year,” he wrote. “Up to a dozen states will be voting on abortion-related ballot initiatives. We have seen surges of attacks against Catholic churches during voting on abortion ballot initiatives in Kansas, Michigan, and Ohio, which had signs expressing their opposition to abortion.”

Pope Francis—flanked from left by then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; then-Vice President Joe Biden, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and then-Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio—waves from the Speaker’s Balcony at the U.S. Capitol after his speech to a joint meeting of Congress on Sept. 24, 2015. (Photo: Douglas Graham/CQ-Roll Call)

CatholicVote argues that Catholic churches and individuals have an absolute right to practice their faith, and that these attacks against churches that stand for the right to life are “textbook examples of voter intimidation and voter suppression.”

He added: “You have sued multiple states which you allege are engaging in voter suppression, comparing their laws to those of the Jim Crow era, yet you have not devoted a single minute of federal time to addressing the intimidation and suppression of Catholic voters, which bears striking similarities to the prejudice and violence against African Americans during the Jim Crow era.”

The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Signal.

Since the May 2022 leak of the draft Supreme Court opinion indicating that Roe v. Wade would soon thereafter be overturned, there have been at least 236 attacks on Catholic churches and at least 90 attacks on pro-life pregnancy resource centers, according to CatholicVote trackers.

Yet the Biden DOJ charged only pro-life activists with FACE Act violations in 2022, and has since charged only five individuals with violating the FACE Act for targeting pregnancy centers.

In February, conservative leaders called on House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., to pass the FACE Act Repeal Act of 2023 “as soon as possible.”

“In the aftermath of additional pro-life activists being convicted by the Biden administration under the FACE Act for peacefully protesting outside an abortion business, we respectfully urge you to take immediate legislative action to protect peaceful pro-life activists from the Biden administration’s weaponized Department of Justice and an unconstitutional law,” the leaders said in a letter first obtained by The Daily Signal.

AG Merrick Garland arrives for a listening session on reducing gun violence at St. Agatha Catholic Church on July 22, 2021, in Chicago. (Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

“The Biden administration has weaponized the FACE Act against peaceful pro-life sidewalk counselors and activists who want to save lives and change hearts and minds,” Advancing American Freedom Executive Director Paul Teller told The Daily Signal at the time.

The failure to prosecute attacks on Catholic churches under the FACE Act has drawn particular attention in light of the fact that Biden is the nation’s second Catholic president and is often described by the media as a “devout Catholic”—though the president heads the most pro-abortion administration in U.S. history; promotes transgender surgeries, hormones, and puberty blockers, even for children; and celebrates transgender ideology.

The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is a crime against human life, that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that homosexual acts are “contrary to the natural law” and “close the sexual act to the gift of life.”

In an Easter weekend interview, the left-leaning archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Wilton Gregory, described the president as a “cafeteria Catholic” who “picks and chooses” which parts of Catholicism to adhere to.

 “I would say there are things, especially in terms of the life issues, there are things that he chooses to ignore,” Gregory said.

“The issues of life begin at the very beginning. And they conclude at natural death,” the cardinal said. “And you can’t pick and choose. You’re either one who respects life in all of its dimensions, or you have to step aside and say, ‘I’m not pro-life.’”

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.