In the wake of the leak of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, a slew of violence against pro-life persons and institutions swept across the country, as Live Action News has chronicled – a trend that has continued with alarming frequency. A new threat assessment by the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) has sought to shed light on these attacks, with the goal of helping pro-lifers to prepare.
The report, entitled “Religious Pro-Life Americans Under Attack: A Threat Assessment of Post-Dobbs America,” analyzes the disturbing rise of attacks on pregnancy resource centers (PRCs), churches, book stores, persons, and institutions. To prepare the report, RFI commissioned a former FBI counterterrorism and intelligence expert, with the aim of assessing “the crimes, and the prospects for future attacks, in the wake of the Dobbs decision.” The types of attacks include graffiti, property damage, arson, assault, theft, and desecration of religious statues.
A key finding – and a key motivator for RFI’s commissioning the report – is the report’s characterization of the “social environment” for criminal attacks on pro-life organizations as “permissive.”
Contributing to this permissive environment is the fact that “law enforcement’s posture in preventing or investigating attacks is often passive, especially at the federal level.” The report notes that the permissive environment has been fostered by “some state or local office-holders,” who “have failed to express immediate condemnation of such attacks or have themselves introduced deeply troubling rhetoric into the public discourse.”
The poor response by state officials and law enforcement is especially troubling, as many of the attacks can be characterized as federal crimes, a fact that the Thomas More Society has pointed out.
READ: Mainstream media misleads on NAF’s Violence and Disruption Report
Pro-abortion politicians and the mainstream media have stymied pro-lifers’ efforts to raise awareness about the seriousness of the threat. In one example, as Live Action News reported, Congressional leaders blocked a pro-life resolution that would have condemned violence against pro-life facilities, organizations, individuals, and places of worship. Additionally, media reporting has focused on characterizing the pro-life movement as violent, while ignoring the onslaught against pro-lifers.
The troubling findings should serve as a wake up call to pro-life organizations, which – as the report points out – often have critical vulnerabilities in areas like physical security, security training for staff and volunteers, financial resources for security, cyber security, relationships with local law enforcement agencies, property defense technology, media engagement, adequate insurance, and legal support. “It is imperative that pro-life congregations and organizations, and responsible media outlets, take the current threat environment seriously,” the report states, “and that government authorities act decisively to prevent, investigate, and prosecute criminal attacks against these institutions.”
The report concludes with a grim threat outlook: “Pro-life congregations and organizations will be at elevated risk of ongoing targeted violence for the remainder of 2022 and into 2023.”
Additionally, cyber attacks on pro-life entities and states with pro-life laws should also be expected. RFI will follow up later this year with the publication of a crisis toolkit intended to assist pro-life organizations “prepare for, mitigate, and respond to non-violent attacks.”
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