Sen. Marco Rubio demands Biden protect Catholic churches from attacks

Marco Rubio United States Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, on his way to a vote in the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 2, 2021. | Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

United States Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, is demanding that President Joe Biden protect Catholic churches from the “growing number of attacks” they have suffered since the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. 

In a March 5 letter addressed to the nation’s second Catholic president, Rubio cited a tracker that found more than 400 attacks against Catholic churches since May 2020. The tracker, last updated on March 5, lists numerous examples of property damage, including arson, statue destruction, rocks and bricks being thrown through windows, and the spray-painting of satanic messages. 

“These attacks are not random nor are they the result of a temporary lapse in judgment by perpetrators,” Rubio, who is Catholic, wrote. “They are motivated by a deep and abiding animosity towards religious institutions and people of faith.”

The senator noted the examples of recent attacks in New York, in which a woman set fire to a statue of the Virgin Mary, a person beheaded a statue of the baby Jesus, and an individual cut off the hands on a statue of Christ. 

Rubio pointed out in his letter that these acts “seldom result in any consequences for offenders” and demanded that Biden “make investigating, and fully prosecuting, these incidents an urgent priority for [his] administration.”

“It should be of highest priority for your administration to protect and defend any group from violence,” the letter continued. “Yet, your administration’s passivity causes people of faith across America to seriously doubt whether you are willing and able to defend Catholic churches and their parishioners.”

Rubio further criticized the Biden administration for prosecuting pro-life activists under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act but failing to prosecute pro-abortion activists who damage and vandalize pro-life pregnancy centers.

“The First Amendment explicitly protects each individual’s right to freely exercise his or her religious beliefs,” Rubio said. “Among other things, the wave of attacks against Catholics suggest that many activists would like countless Americans to abandon their genuine religious faith and submit to a godless, progressive pseudo-religion, Rubio said.

In March of last year, a coalition of conservative organizations sued the Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) for failing to provide them with documents related to the attacks on churches and pro-life pregnancy centers. Attorney General Merrick Garland faced criticism from Republican senators during a hearing last year for alleged prosecutorial bias from the DOJ and the alleged anti-Catholic bias in the FBI memo.

Both Garland and FBI director Christopher Wray subsequently denounced the memo. In regard to the alleged prosecutorial bias, Garland claimed the DOJ has put its “full resources” into prosecuting the attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers but that perpetrators are “doing this at night in the dark,” which makes it more difficult to investigate than alleged pro-life violations of the FACE Act. 

“There are many more prosecutions with respect to the blocking of the abortion centers, but that is generally because those actions are taken with photography at the time, during the daylight, and seeing the person who did it is quite easy,” Garland said at the time.

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