Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall joined 19 other attorneys general in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray stating their concern over a leaked FBI memo labeling some Catholics as potential "racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists."

Uncover DC first obtained a copy of the memo from the FBI Richmond Field Office.

According to the letter signed by Marshall and other attorneys general, anti-Catholic bigotry "appears to be festering in the FBI, and the Bureau is treating Catholics as potential terrorists because of their beliefs."

"The memorandum identifies "radical-traditionalist Catholic[s]" as potential "racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists," the attorneys general state. "The memorandum deploys alarmingly detailed theological distinctions to distinguish between the Catholics whom the FBI deems acceptable, and those it does not. Among those beliefs which distinguish the bad Catholics from the good ones are a preference for "the Traditional Latin Mass and pre-Vatican II teachings" and adherence to traditional Catholic teachings on sex and marriage (which the memorandum glibly describes as "anti-LGBTQ")."

According to the letter, the FBI's memo conflates traditional values with violent extremism.

"The memorandum even appears to accuse the Supreme Court and the Governor of Virginia of "[c]atalyzing" the bad Catholics through "legislation or judicial decisions in areas such as abortion rights, immigration, affirmative action, and LGBTQ protections," singling out the Supreme Court's recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization and Governor Youngkin's support for sensible abortion regulations as examples," the attorneys general write. 

Marshall and the other attorneys general write that "after defining which Catholics are the dangerous ones, the memorandum proposes dealing with those Catholics through 'the development of sources with access,' including in 'places of worship.'"

"In other words, the memorandum proposes recruiting Catholics to enter a sacred house of worship, talk to their fellow Catholics, and report those conversations back to the FBI so that the federal government can keep tabs on the bad Catholics," the attorneys general state. "To allocate these "sources," the document includes an appendix with a list of Catholic "hate groups" that was assembled by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), apparently without any independent vetting from the FBI."

The attorneys general continue by saying the "DOJ and the FBI must desist from investigating and surveilling Americans who have done nothing more than exercise their natural and constitutional right to practice their religion in a manner of their choosing" and "they should reveal to the American public the extent to which they have engaged in such activities. 

"We will take all lawful and appropriate means to protect the rights of our constituents as guaranteed by our Constitution," the attorneys general write.

Bishop Barry Knestout of the Diocese of Richmond said in a statement after the FBI's memo was leaked that "a preference for traditional forms of worship and holding closely to the Church's teachings on marriage, family, human sexuality, and the dignity of the human person does not equate with extremism."

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