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WASHINGTON – Churches and pro-life centers across the country are facing increased acts of violence, but messaging from the Biden administration and other officials isn’t as strong as they would’ve hoped.
Sources tell Fox News the FBI has opened almost 200 threat assessments since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked in early May.
The FBI acknowledged that a majority of the threats are against pro-life organizations. Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America also says it has recorded at least 45 incidents of violence at affiliated groups since the leak and fears more may be coming.
“I’m concerned that this is going to escalate, especially after that decision day when we had Maxine Waters, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others standing outside of the Supreme Court really egging on the most extreme elements of the pro-abortion movement,” said Mallory Carroll, vice president of communications for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. “We have seen this rise in vandalism and violence against pregnancy centers.”
The Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center in Lynchburg, Va., was vandalized with threatening graffiti messages from the group known as Jane’s Revenge, which has also claimed credit for other acts of vandalism around the country. Similarly, Catholic churches are also on high alert after some have already been targets.
Billy Atwell, chief communications officer for the Diocese of Arlington, Va., said churches have been in constant communication with law enforcement to keep parishioners and their buildings safe.
“A lot of law enforcement did extra patrols to parishes, did extra assessments and so on to see we are in our best possible condition,” Atwell said. “And then, obviously, if we see something we reported to law enforcement immediately, and then they respond and help us.”
Parishioners at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Reston, Va., about 30 minutes outside Washington, D.C., said they saw smoke near their church when they arrived for early mass last week. The building had also been vandalized with threatening messages. Fairfax County authorities are investigating.
Both groups said they would like to see stronger condemnation on the violence.
“There are times when it seems like some elected officials are a little quiet about acts of religious discrimination,” Atwell said. “And we would hope that everybody can appreciate that we live in a society where we’re going to disagree on key moral issues, key political issues, but that everyone can agree violence is unacceptable. But we hope that all people can really appreciate the gravity of these situations.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for a briefing about what the agency is doing to address the incidents. The Susan B. Anthony group also sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking if it is going to investigate these incidents but has not yet received a response.
“President Biden said that he wanted to make sure that all protests against this decision were peaceful, but he failed to condemn these existing and ongoing attacks against pregnancy resource centers,” Carroll said.
As for how parishioners are feeling ahead of another weekend of service, Atwell acknowledged some are nervous, but their faith is strong.
“We believe what we believe, and we do what we do. And that won’t stop because of vandalism or some sort of act of religious discrimination,” Atwell said.