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Homeland Security warns of higher risk of violence against churches

Abortion conflict

Nathan Howard | GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA VIA AFP

John Burger - published on 06/08/22 - updated on 06/09/22

As nation awaits outcome of Supreme Court abortion decision, houses of worship advised to be vigilant.

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday issued a warning about heightened violence in the United States in the coming months – including violence against houses of worship.

DHS  Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas issued a National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin regarding a continued heightened threat environment across the United States. Threats exist not only against churches, though, and in fact, the same day the warning was issued, police arrested an armed man who made threats against conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh near his house in Chevy Chase Maryland.

The man, 26-year-old Nicholas John Roske, later told police that he was upset about a leaked draft opinion in which Kavanaugh and four other conservative justices voted to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to ban abortion. The decision could drop some time this month. 

DHS said that in the coming months, it 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.

“Threat actors have recently mobilized to violence due to factors such as personal grievances, reactions to current events, and adherence to violent extremist ideologies, including racially or ethnically motivated or anti-government/anti-authority violent extremism,” the agency continued. “Foreign adversaries—including terrorist organizations and nation state adversaries—also remain intent on exploiting the threat environment to promote or inspire violence, sow discord, or undermine U.S. democratic institutions. 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.”

“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,” the alert said.

Earlier this week, author and blogger Rod Dreher said that 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.”

Dreher cited an “informed and highly trusted source.”

“If your church is in any way publicly associated with the pro-life movement — and all Catholic churches, even those known to be liberal, are by default — you had better now, this very day, start organizing vigils to surround and protect your church buildings,” Dreher wrote at his blog

Asked to comment on the news, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops spokeswoman Chieko Noguchi said, “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.”

Mother’s Day protests

In early May, following a Politico report that a draft version of a decision in Dobbs v.Jackson Women’s Health Organization showed that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe, pro-abortion groups called on supporters to protest in churches and in front of the homes of Supreme Court justices.

On Mother’s Day, a Madison, Wisconsin, pro-life office was vandalized and set on fire. In Denton, Texas, Loreto House, a pro-life center was vandalized.

That same day, a small group of protesters dressed in red costumes from Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” interrupted Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. 

A partially-clothed group holding signs calling for “Abortion on demand & without apology,” was photographed outside of  Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. A post on Twitter claimed that the photos were taken during Mass and in front of children.

The day before, pro-abortion protesters gathered in front of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in lower Manhattan. The demonstration forced pro-life activists to cancel their usual procession to a nearby Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. 

“The nation remains in a heightened threat environment, and we expect that environment will become more dynamic in the coming months,” DHS Secretary Mayorkas said Tuesday. 

Tags:
Abortion
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