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FBI Tried to Plant Informants in Houses of Worship, Targeting Catholic Services

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Congress has placed FBI Director Christopher Wray in the spotlight over a memo that revealed the FBI targeted traditionalist Catholics, asking church leaders to help monitor members and report them to the government. 

The memo – which was later withdrawn – talked of tracking interactions between so-called "radical-traditionalist Catholics" and white nationalist groups, according to the online publication The Hill. It also proposed meeting with church leaders on how to spot "warning signs" of radicalization. 

The memo, along with other internal documents, was released by the House Judiciary Committee on Monday. Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has subpoenaed Wray to testify on the issue.

"Based on the limited information produced by the FBI to the Committee, we now know that the FBI relied on at least one undercover agent to produce its analysis, and that the FBI proposed that its agents engage in outreach to Catholic parishes to develop sources among the clergy and church leadership to inform on Americans practicing their faith," Jordan wrote in a letter to FBI Director Wray on Monday. 

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In the letter, Jordan also lashed out at the agency's director for not complying with the committee's original request for other documents. 

"This information is outrageous and only reinforces the Committee's need for all FBI material responsive to our request," Jordan wrote. "The documents produced to date show how the FBI sought to enlist Catholic houses of worship as potential sources to monitor and report on their parishioners."

"Americans attend church to worship and congregate for their spiritual and personal betterment," Jordan's letter continued. "They must be free to exercise their fundamental First Amendment rights without worrying that the FBI may have planted so-called 'tripwire' sources or other informants in their houses of worship."

The Weaponization of Government Committee tweeted a copy of Jordan's three-page letter to Wray. 

"#BREAKING: We now know the FBI, relying on information derived from at least one employee, sought to use local religious organizations as 'new avenues for tripwire and source development'," the committee wrote. 

As CBN News reported in February, the internal memo from the FBI's Richmond office was rescinded by the agency after whistleblower Kyle Seraphin published it on on Feb. 8. The bureau's national office said at the time the memo "does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI" and vowed to "conduct a review of the basis for the document."

Jordan at the time, said the memo relies on "biased and partisan sources, including the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Salon, and The Atlantic, to support its assessment," noting the SPLC "identifies the broad term 'Christian identity' as a hate group — a term that could arguably encompass millions of Americans with sincerely held religious beliefs." 

"The fact that the FBI would blindly accept and regurgitate the SPLC's spin is highly concerning and undercuts the FBI's assertion that it is unbiased and politically neutral," he said.

Flagged by FBI as Extremist for Using Online Phrases 'Redpilled', 'It's Over', 'Just Be First'

Meanwhile, The Daily Signal, the news arm of The Heritage Foundation, reported earlier this month on how the FBI uses a "glossary of terms" it looks for online that could indicate someone is involved with "violent extremism", according to documents obtained by the foundation's Oversight Project

According to the FBI's glossary, certain words are allegedly code for extremists to communicate to one another online. The words include:  "redpilled" (first popularized by the 1999 film "The Matrix"), "based," "looksmaxxing," and the names "Chad" and "Stacy."

The law enforcement agency also flags phrases that include "it's over" and "just be first." 

On April 3, the Oversight Project tweeted, "NEW:  Docs we obtained show how @FBI equates protected online speech to violence. According to @FBI using the terms 'based' or 'red pilled' are signs of 'Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremism'."

A follow-up tweet from the watchdog warned, "Using terms like 'looksmaxxing', 'Chad', and 'Stacy' will get you on an @FBI list for 'Involuntary Celibate Violent Extremism'."

According to the FBI glossary, "based" means "someone who has been converted to racist ideology," The Daily Signal reported. 

"Red pill" or being "redpilled" means someone is accepting racist, antisemitic, or fascist beliefs, according to the FBI glossary. 

According to the government's list, the word "cell" is short for "incel", which in turn is short for "involuntary celibate", or an online community of men who think they can't attract women even though they want to be in a relationship. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of