Former President Donald Trump this week reiterated his claim that President Joe Biden is persecuting Catholics, saying Biden has “weaponized” the Department of Justice (DOJ) against them. 

In an interview with Sean Hannity on Feb. 29, the former president asserted that “Christians and Americans of faith are being persecuted like nothing this nation has ever seen before.”

“I don’t know what’s going on with the Catholics,” Trump said, saying that Biden has “weaponized the FBI and the DOJ to go get his political opponents and many other people.” The most recent comments echo ones Trump has made on the campaign trail, including in December when he said Biden is “going violently and viciously after Catholics” by “sending undercover spies” and sending “SWAT teams to arrest pro-life activists.”

Trump, who is not Catholic and whose views differ from those of the Church in a number of key areas, has frequently accused Biden, a professed Catholic who also disagrees with numerous Church teachings, of persecuting his fellow Catholics.

Under Biden, the DOJ has brought numerous charges against peaceful pro-life demonstrators for violations of the federal FACE Act, which prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.” 

In recent years perhaps the most notable FACE Act charge was made against Mark Houck, a Pennsylvania father of seven who made national headlines when he was arrested by armed authorities at his home on Sept. 23, 2022, and eventually cleared of all charges.

Trump and others who allege Biden is targeting Catholics cite a now-retracted FBI document that appeared to suggest an FBI investigation into “radical traditionalist” Catholics and their possible ties to “the far-right white nationalist movement.” 

The leaked FBI memo, dated Jan. 23, 2023, claims that racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists will likely become more interested in “radical-traditionalist Catholic ideology” within the next 12 to 24 months “in the run-up to the next general election cycle.” In response to an inquiry from CNA at the time of the leak, the FBI said it would remove the document because “it does not meet our exacting standards.”

After the memo was leaked, the U.S. bishops denounced it as “troubling and offensive.”

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