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This article has been updated to include Monday statements from the FBI to Fox News.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri is demanding answers from the Biden administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) after dozens of FBI agents raided the home of a prominent Catholic pro-life speaker and author Friday morning.
“I want to know from Merrick Garland directly why Biden’s DOJ is arresting Catholic protestors like terrorists – complete with SWAT-style tactics – while letting actual terrorist acts like firebombings go unpunished,” Hawley said in a Monday tweet in which he attached copies of his letter to the DOJ.
I want to know from Merrick Garland directly why Biden’s DOJ is arresting Catholic protestors like terrorists – complete with SWAT-style tactics – while letting actual terrorist acts like firebombings go unpunished pic.twitter.com/tU1Jwe4c7h
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) September 26, 2022
In the letter, Hawley told U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland that he has “a lot to answer for” after sending as many as 25 armed federal agents to arrest pro-life author and speaker Mark Houck for “allegedly committing a single count of simple assault by pushing a man near an abortion clinic.”
Mark Houck, a pro-life Catholic father of 7, became the latest victim of an FBI raid and arrest on the morning of Friday September 23 — for supposed “FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act” violations — at his rural home as his children looked on “screaming.”
The arrest and raid stems from an altercation with a Planned Parenthood worker.
According to Mark’s wife Ryan-Marie, a “pro-abortion protester” would verbally harrass Mark's 12-year old son — hurling vulgar and derogatory statements.
When the protestor encroached in the boy's space, Mark defended his son. At that point, “Mark shoved him away from his child, and the guy fell back,” Ryan-Marie recounts.
The protestor was not injured, but he tried to sue Mark Houck for the assault but his case was thrown out of court in the early summer.
WE CANNOT ALLOW THE LEFT TO HARRASS PRO-LIFE ADVOCATES THIS WAY!
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In case you hadn't caught on already, the satanic Biden administration is waging war on Christians. https://t.co/E6ChpZVDYW— Michael (X) Knowles ✊ (@michaeljknowles) September 24, 2022
The description of this arrest sounds like it took place in a totalitarian state. A tragic unraveling of Justice in America. https://t.co/e3vEID7E39— Bishop J. Strickland (@Bishopoftyler) September 25, 2022
If convicted, Houck faces up to a maximum of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000, according to the Justice Department.
Additional conservative pro-life leaders have weighed in — this is why we need your support ASAP.
“Just in the last few days we’ve seen some pretty glaring examples of what appear to be instances of DOJ [Department of Justice] overreach. You’ve got a Catholic father of seven who formed a group designed to encourage young men to be faithful to their commitments, arrested in front of his seven children just recently. You’ve got all these instances of overreach. It’s deeply concerning to us all. These are all things we’re gonna be looking into.” — US Senator Mike Lee
Tell the Houck family that you stand by them!
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Please share this petition widely. Let's stand in solidarity with Mark Houck and his family.
According to Houck’s family, Houck pushed an abortion facility employee who was verbally harassing his 12-year-old son using vulgar language, causing him to fall down. The family says Houck shoved the man away to protect the child.
Houck’s wife Ryan-Marie, a homeschooling mother of the family’s seven children, told LifeSite that the Catholic family was terrified Friday morning when FBI agents surrounded the house and “started pounding on the door and yelling for us to open it.”
“[T]hey had big, huge rifles pointed at Mark and pointed at me and kind of pointed throughout the house,” Ryan-Marie described. “The kids were all just screaming. It was all just very scary and traumatic.”
In his Monday letter to Garland, Hawley pointed out that the original criminal complaint against Houck had already been tossed out well before the raid.
The senator contended that in addition to turning “a local dispute into a national case,” FBI agents “reportedly executed the search warrant in as extreme a manner as one can imagine.”
Below is the first page of the warrant issued for the FBI SWAT raid of Catholic pro-life speaker, author and sidewalk councilor, Mike Houck. pic.twitter.com/XeVLhbxAYI
— Patrick Delaney (@PatrickDDelaney) September 24, 2022
“To say the least, using this kind of force to make an arrest for a single charge of simple assault is unprecedented,” Hawley said, adding that the news “is especially shocking” given the agency’s apparent double-standard when dealing with pro-abortion violence targeting pro-life ministries.
“[Y]our office has so far turned a blind eye to the epidemic of violence across the country by pro-abortion extremists against pregnancy resource centers, houses of worship, and pro-life Americans – violent acts that are prohibited by the very same law under which you are charging Mark Houck.”
The FBI warrant served against Houck was obtained by federal authorities under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which prohibits intimidation, physical obstruction, and destruction of both abortion centers and pregnancy centers.
LifeSiteNews reported that as of September 15, the FBI had not made any arrests in its investigation of the attacks on pro-life centers and churches following the leaked Supreme Court opinion and the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
In his Monday letter, Hawley also slammed the Biden-appointed attorney general for “repeatedly weaponizing the FBI” against the administration’s “political opponents.”
“If you are trying to inspire confidence in your department, you are failing magnificently,” he said.
Hawley concluded the letter by calling for Garland to “testify, under oath, before the Senate Judiciary Committee about your selective use and apparent political weaponization of the FACE Act.”
The Missouri senator also demanded that Garland explain why as many as 25 FBI agents were sent, guns drawn, to Houck’s home. Further, he requested that Garland state “how many charges” the DOJ has brought since May 3, 2022, “against pro-abortion extremists who have attacked pregnancy resource centers, churches, and pro-life Americans”.
In a statement to Fox News Digital on Monday, a spokesperson with the Philadelphia office of the FBI affirmed that the armed agents went to Houck’s home, but said that they were not SWAT members. A senior FBI source also put the number of FBI agents at 15-20, denying there were as many as 25. The source also confirmed that the agents had their guns out, but argued they didn’t aim the weapons at Houck or his family members.
The viral report of the FBI’s raid on the pro-life Catholic speaker comes as the agency has repeatedly executed FBI raids against Biden administration’s political adversaries in recent weeks.
In early August, the FBI carried out its unprecedented raid on former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. Weeks later, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and prominent attorney Harmeet Dhillon reported that the federal law enforcement agency had served search warrants and subpoenas on dozens of Trump allies.
The escalations come amid U.S. President Joe Biden’s increasingly belligerent rhetoric against so-called “MAGA Republicans,” in which he has characterized pro-lifers, Trump supporters, conservative Christians, and medical freedom advocates as threats “to the very foundations of our republic.”
In his now-infamous September 1 “Soul of the Nation” speech, Biden accused “MAGA forces,” of attempting “to take this country backwards — backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.”
Flanked by U.S. Marines and standing against a blood-red backdrop just weeks after the FBI executed its raid against Biden’s predecessor and top political adversary, the president argued that conservatives “fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.”