DHS warns that ‘faith-based institutions’ could be targeted amid ‘heightened threat environment’

The seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security The seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security. | chrisdorney via Shutterstock.

The Department of Homeland Security warned on Tuesday that “faith-based institutions” could be potential targets amid a “heightened threat environment” in the United States.

The DHS alert followed an unconfirmed report that it had notified Catholic bishops of “credible threats” if Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, is overturned.

In a June 7 bulletin from the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS), the department responsible for public security said: “In the coming months, DHS expects the threat environment to become more dynamic as several high-profile events could be exploited to justify acts of violence against a range of possible targets.”

“These targets could include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, schools, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents.”

The warning came days after the prominent Orthodox Christian writer Rod Dreher said that an “informed and highly trusted source” had told him that the DHS had informed bishops that Catholic churches could be attacked the night that the Supreme Court rules on the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Writing on The American Conservative website on June 3, Dreher said that the source told him: “Homeland Security has officially notified the bishops there are credible threats to the safety of Catholic churches, clergy, and bishops if the Supreme Court overturns Roe. Violence has been called for beginning the night such a decision is handed down.”

CNA has not independently confirmed the source’s claim. USCCB spokeswoman Chieko Noguchi provided the following statement to CNA on Wednesday afternoon: "The USCCB does not discuss security matters publicly; we encourage the faithful to be vigilant and if they are aware of any suspicious activity, they should report it to their local law-enforcement."

The NTAS bulletin, which is valid until Nov. 30, said that “threat actors” had “recently mobilized to violence,” motivated by “personal grievances, reactions to current events, and adherence to violent extremist ideologies.”

“DHS continues to assess that the primary threat of mass casualty violence in the United States stems from lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances,” it noted.

A section of the bulletin labeled “Additional information” said: “Given a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court case about abortion rights, individuals who advocate both for and against abortion have, on public forums, encouraged violence, including against government, religious, and reproductive healthcare personnel and facilities, as well as those with opposing ideologies.”

Vandals have struck at pro-life centers across the U.S. since the leak of a draft opinion suggesting that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade.

In the latest incidents, a pro-life pregnancy center in Asheville, North Carolina, had its windows smashed and was defaced with pro-abortion messaging on the night of June 6-7.

A pro-life pregnancy center in Amherst, New York, a suburb of Buffalo, sustained major damage in a fire and was marked with pro-abortion graffiti on June 7.

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