By Family Research Council
The Biden administration’s FBI is once again targeting faithful Catholic Americans by raiding a Catholic family’s home. According to a report from American Greatness, the Rufini family were “dragged out of their home at gunpoint, handcuffed and locked in a van” by FBI agents earlier this year.
According to Jeremiah Rufini, his 15-year-old son was targeted for posting allegedly “offensive” memes online and in social media group chats, prompting the FBI’s raid. Rufini also alleges that undercover FBI agents infiltrated “right wing” social media chat groups, befriended his son there, and convinced or “goaded” him to generate content which they could then target.
Rufini explained that his son, an altar boy and volunteer firefighter, stepped up to take care of his 93-year-old great-grandmother. The boy was not “raised with cell phones or unrestricted internet access” but his responsibility taking care of his great-grandmother necessitated cell phone use. “He spent a lot of time alone with nothing to do but wait and think and the cell phone became a welcome distraction,” Rufini explained. He added that his son’s “interests in history and theology led him down a rabbit hole where he was recruited into group chats targeting teenage traditionalist Catholics with extreme political content.” Rufini said he later found that the group chats his son was involved in were “closely monitored, and possibly operated by, FBI agents as part of an effort to investigate Traditional Catholics…”
He further noted, “Ironically, our legal troubles began when he had an attack of conscience and abruptly deleted all of his chat apps. He later told us that he felt using social media was a coping mechanism and it had been affecting his mood and ability to sleep.” The FBI’s investigation against the teenager, which his father categorized as “very disproportionate,” reportedly yielded a misdemeanor conviction for breach of peace, but cost the Rufini family over $20,000 in legal fees spent combating the U.S. Justice Department.
Arielle Del Turco, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, commented to The Washington Stand, “From the way the Rufini family describes it, the FBI targeted their son on social media and undercover agents might have encouraged him to commit some sort of offense for which they could arrest him.” She explained, “This is unspeakably cruel to a minor, and it creates problems that were not naturally there. Federal authorities should never foment illicit activity just to confirm their own bias against Christians.” Del Turco added, “This is yet another example of the FBI’s bizarre series of attempts to catch traditional Catholics in some kind of wrongdoing.”
This follows a series of instances in which FBI agents and the Biden Justice Department have aggressively targeted conservative Catholic individuals or communities for harassment or investigation over the past two years. In September of 2022, for example, around two dozen heavily-armed FBI agents equipped with riot gear raided the home of Catholic pro-life advocate and father of seven Mark Houck, handcuffing him in front of his wife and children. Houck was accused of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act by physically assaulting a Planned Parenthood employee. At trial, Houck’s defense team demonstrated that the Planned Parenthood employee had actually violated the abortion business’s policies, left his post, and crossed the street to where Houck and his son were peacefully praying. After the Planned Parenthood employee began following the two and verbally harassing Houck’s son, Houck shoved the man. Houck was acquitted earlier this year.
In February 2023, a memo was leaked from the FBI’s field office in Richmond, Virginia, detailing plans for infiltrating and spying on Catholic parishes which celebrate the Tridentine Mass, sometimes called the Traditional Latin Mass. The memo labeled Tridentine Mass-goers potential “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists” and relied heavily on information from the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC classifies “radical traditional Catholics” as a hate group and places them on par with neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. Despite initial claims that the memo was the misguided product of only one FBI field office, later documents and testimony revealed that multiple FBI field offices had contributed to the creation of the memo, including FBI field offices on the West Coast which had already infiltrated and spied on traditional Catholic communities.
When asked, months later, if he considered “traditional” American Catholics to be extremists, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland responded in a Congressional hearing, “I have no idea what ‘traditional’ means here.” After being pressed repeatedly to clarify his position on traditional Catholics and repeatedly refusing to answer directly, Garland finally admitted, “Catholics are not extremists, no.” When asked if anyone in the FBI or Justice Department had been disciplined over the creation of the memo, Garland replied, “I don’t know.”
Additionally, the FBI and Justice Department have done little to investigate or prosecute hundreds of attacks against Catholic churches in the U.S. According to a report by advocacy group CatholicVote, nearly 400 Catholic churches have been attacked over the past three years, including 99 in 2023 alone. The attacks have ranged from vandalism and spray-painting to destruction of property and desecration of Catholic statues to firebombing and attempted arson. Attacks have taken place in 42 states and Washington, D.C. A fresh spate of attacks took place in Ohio in late September and early November, ahead of the referendum vote on Issue 1, which enshrined a “right” to abortion in the Buckeye State’s constitution. According to CatholicVote, arrests have been made in less than 25% of attacks on Catholic churches.
Del Turco commented, “The FBI’s resources could be more effectively allocated if they would stop pursing imaginary terrorist threats among Catholics. One would think there is enough crime in America to keep the FBI busy.” She added, “When the FBI’s hyper-fixation on Catholics is inexplicable in the natural, that may just mean it’s spiritual. Spiritual warfare is real, and it affects human events.”
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.
EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.
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