Investigation into FBI, fed agencies’ targeting of Christians and pro-lifers to begin next week

An FBI agent stands outside the Houck residence in Kintnersville, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 23, 2022. Mark Houck was arrested that day and charged with assaulting a Planned Parenthood escort outside an Philadelphia abortion clinic on Oct. 13, 2021. / Courtesy of the Houck family

Washington D.C., Feb 4, 2023 / 10:00 am (CNA).

Congress will begin investigating what Republicans call the “weaponization” of the federal government against pro-life advocates and Christians next Thursday, according to announcements from leading House members.

After a House vote authorized the creation of the Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, Republicans have said they are committed to providing “oversight” and “accountability” to federal agencies that have been targeting parents, anti-abortion protesters, and Christians.

The investigation will operate under the House Judiciary Committee and be chaired by Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan.

A primary focus of the investigation will be the Biden administration’s targeting of pro-lifers through the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, according to CNA communications with Russell Dye, Jordan’s communications director.

In 2022 the Biden Justice Department prosecuted a record 26 pro-life advocates under the FACE Act. Meanwhile, last year saw nearly 100 attacks against pregnancy resource centers and churches that went largely unpunished.

Perhaps the most controversial use of the FACE Act was the arrest of Catholic father and pro-life activist Mark Houck. The Pennsylvania resident was accused of pushing a Planned Parenthood volunteer in defense of his son about a year before his arrest. In September 2022 Houck was taken into custody by armed FBI agents while he was at home with his wife and children.

Houck was acquitted of all charges on Monday. Still, Republican leaders such as Rep. Chip Roy of Texas decried the FBI’s use of the FACE Act as a “brazen exercise in intimidation” that “never should have happened.”

“Every American should shudder at the power the federal government has used against parents for daring to stand up for their children, Christian organizations for following their faith, [and] pro-life Americans,” Roy told CNA after the subcommittee’s creation was announced.

As one of the 12 Republicans on the 21-member subcommittee, Roy told CNA that “this subcommittee will not be afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead and expose the weaponization of the federal government.”

Jordan also issued subpoenas Friday to the Justice Department, FBI, and Education Department related to a government task force that was set up to investigate parents who have spoken up at school board meetings.

According to the House Judiciary Committee, leaders within key federal agencies, including the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, have thus far ignored congressional inquiries.

Jordan said he will not hesitate to issue subpoenas to force answers out of federal agencies that have thus far been noncompliant.

Meanwhile, the subcommittee has been dismissed by nonvoting Democratic delegate Stacey Plaskett as the “committee on insurrection protection.”

Plaskett, who represents the U.S. Virgin Islands, was appointed ranking member to lead the nine Democrats on the subcommittee.

“They’re looking for conspiracies to create problems with no solutions,” Plaskett said in an MSNBC interview. “We’re looking to solutions.”

When advocating for the subcommittee’s creation in January, Jordan stated the purpose of the investigation is to uphold the First Amendment.

“The five rights we enjoy as Americans under the First Amendment, your right to practice your faith, your right to assemble, right to petition the government, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, every single one’s been attacked in the last two years. The government was telling people they couldn’t go to church just a few years ago,” Jordan said. “We want it all to stop. We want the double standard to stop.”


»Investigation into FBI, fed agencies’ targeting of Christians and pro-lifers to begin next week«

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