CV NEWS FEED // At a House subcommittee hearing, witnesses and lawmakers spoke pointedly about the Justice Department’s and FBI’s recent pattern of prosecuting peaceful pro-life protests while turning a blind eye to violence against Catholic churches and pro-life clinics.
The hearing centered on the Biden administration’s apparent selective use of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act to charge pro-life Americans with felonies.
“During the ‘Revisiting the Implications of the FACE Act’ hearing, the lawmakers brought forward Mark Houck as a witness,” The Daily Signal reported. “Houck is the father of seven children who was arrested by authorities in front of his children on FACE Act charges brought by the Department of Justice. A jury found him not guilty earlier this year.”
Houck’s dramatic early-morning arrest gave rise to widespread condemnations from Catholic leaders as well as lawmakers. The Catholic pro-life sidewalk counselor and activist was only one of over two-dozen pro-life Americans the Biden administration charged under the FACE Act last year. In 2022, the Department of Justice brought no such charges against any pro-abortion groups – despite a rash of terrorism against Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers.
The FACE Act prohibits not only “threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive health care services” at abortion facilities, but also similar attacks against houses of worship and pro-life clinics.
“As of early May 16, there have been at least 87 attacks on pregnancy resource centers and 157 attacks on Catholic churches since the May 2022 Dobbs leak, according to CatholicVote trackers,” The Daily Signal reported:
Many of these buildings have been vandalized with threats such as, “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you,” making the attacks incidents of suspected pro-abortion violence.
…The extremist group Jane’s Revenge has taken credit for many of these vandalisms and attacks.
CatholicVote President Brian Burch was present at the Tuesday hearing and spoke with reporters at a press conference following the event. “These attacks continue to this day,” he said, citing CatholicVote’s trackers of violence against churches and pro-life groups. “Rarely does a week go by before we are adding yet another incident to this tracker.”
“Catholics do not deserve the treatment that they are now getting from their government,” Burch said. “We are now seeing at the highest levels of government the weaponization of the Department of Justice and its misapplication of the law and frankly its dereliction of duty in refusing to prosecute these crimes.”
Burch also called on Congress to come alongside CatholicVote in holding officials accountable both for selectively prosecuting pro-life Americans and for failing to prosecute the pro-abortion terrorists who attack them. “We look forward to further actions from Congress to do everything they can to hold both this administration and our government accountable, as they are constitutionally obligated to do,” he said.
During the hearing, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-OH, decried Houck’s treatment at the hands of federal law enforcement and suggested Congress should look into withholding funding from the FBI until American taxpayers see reform.
“You’re a pro-life, pro-family Catholic, for goodness sake,” Jordan said to Houck:
You were the example. That is how pervasive this political attitude is at the highest levels of our agencies. And in this case, it was the FBI, so much so, that they put together a memo and said, “We want to put informants and snitches inside the Catholic Church to go rat out people like Mark Houck and his family.” You think that’s what’s going on here?
Houck replied: “I would agree with you 100% that my family was targeted. That I’ve been on a watchlist.”
“Politics is driving the agenda in far too many agencies in our government,” said Jordan. “Today they come after American citizens,” Jordan said. “You could be a Catholic attending a Mass, you could be a parent showing up at a school board meeting or you could be like Mr. Houck, a pro-lifer praying at a clinic and you could be targeted by our government. That is how scary the situation has become.”
“Jordan argued that the Department of Justice and the FBI are selectively enforcing the FACE Act and other laws in ways that target pro-life activists and conservatives but let pro-abortion and left-wing activists off the hook,” the Catholic News Agency reported. “He said it is now time to withhold funding from the FBI.”
“I think the only way we can actually begin to stop this is we’ve got to do what legislatures do,” Jordan said. “You’ve got to look at the money. … You’ve got to say, ‘Look if the FBI’s going to do this kind of stuff to good people like [Houck] and [his] family, they may not be getting the funds that they’ve [gotten] before and they certainly won’t be using funds in certain ways.’ That’s something we have to do.”