The FBI and Religious Espionage

Hands folded in prayer, holding a rosary, resting on the back of a pew in a church.

In a letter sent to FBI Director and US Attorney General Merrick Garland, Virginia Attorney General and the attorneys general of 19 other states demanded an explanation for a memo recently leaked from the Richmond, VA, office that targets certain Catholic groups as possible domestic threats and suggests recruiting people within the churches to spy on fellow worshipers.

The memo, which became public on February 8, targets Catholics as potential threats due to their religious beliefs and is a cause for concern among the attorneys general.

The [leaked] memo, which distinguishes between acceptable and unacceptable Catholic beliefs and practices, seams to suggest that Catholics who prefer a traditional Latin mass and pre-Vatican II teachings are “radical-traditionalists” who could be “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.” The document further implies that the FBI should develop “sources with access” in “places of worship,” suggesting that the FBI may begin recruiting Catholics to spy on their fellow worshippers.

A full copy of the letter about the memo can be found at the bottom of this page.

The signatories to this letter are not a group of people I would normally agree with about much, as they are the attorneys general of some of the most conservative states in the country. And there are several examples and comments I disagree with in the letter. The main theses of the letter, however, that the FBI should not be defining “appropriate” and “inappropriate” beliefs and practices or targeting individuals because of their religion, are ones I can support wholeheartedly, as long as it’s applied to all religions equally. If someone truly is a threat, then there will be indications of this in their general behavior as well, not just in their religious life.

Saying that “Catholics who prefer a traditional Latin mass and pre-Vatican II teachings are “radical-traditionalists” who could be “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.”” is a pretty sweeping statement. There are likely many older Catholics who may prefer the old ways for reasons that have nothing to do with any kind of extremism.

Of course, part of my concern stems from how easily the FBI could target my faith in a similar way. Because a number of the violent, fascist, white supremacist Heathen groups focus on Odin, the FBI could suggest that Heathens who consider themselves “Odinists” or “Wotanists” could be “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.” The thing is, there are many Inclusive Heathens, who also consider themselves Odinists and are not a threat to anyone. The FBI would be better served by seeking to find those who have white supremacist tattoos or engage in nakedly racist behavior in public, own several weapons, often speak in violent terms and so on – all things that can be observed without taking their professed religious beliefs into account.

Didn’t we learn anything from the fallout of the NYPD targeting Muslims and trying to get eyes into the mosques following 9/11? Or is this a lesson law enforcement will have to keep relearning?

Hopefully, the program suggested by the memo never got off the ground or will be quickly shut down. Either way, people of faith will apparently need to keep an eye on law enforcement if they want to protect their civil liberties.

Letter to Attorney General … by Ezra Hercyk

Vikings Valhalla: Season 2, Episode 1 Recap

Harald, Leif and Freydis stand on an icy field with the words "Vikings Valhalla" overhead.

Welcome to my first recap and review of Vikings Valhalla Season 2! Given how much I enjoyed the first season, I’ve been looking foreword to this for a while. There are 8 episodes this season, and Netflix has released all of them. I’ll be spacing out my recaps and reviews a bit, however, so people have time to see the shows first, as there will be spoilers in these recaps.

This recap begins after the jump. The review will be in a separate post.

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“Vikings”, “Vikings Valhalla”, History and Faith

Poster for the Vikings Valhalla series, showing Harald Sigurdsson, Leif Eriksson and Freydis Eriksdottir holding their weapons in a battle-ready stance, standing around and on top of a smoldering pile of bones, ash and ruined weapons.

Netflix has released all 8 episodes for the second season of Vikings Valhalla, something I have very much been looking forward to. Before I start writing reviews of the episodes, however, I thought I would offer some thoughts on the show and its predecessor, Vikings, along with comments on the show’s portrayal of the characters’ faith and the clash between the Heathen Norse and the Christian English. There are no spoilers for the new season of Valhalla in this article, though I will write openly about events from the first season and from the original Vikings series.

A handsome Viking man with his hair in a topknot and with a neatly trimmed beard looks off into the distance.
Leo Suter as Harald Sigurdsson
One thing that’s important to remember when watching shows like this is that they are dramas first and foremost and are not intended to be seen as historically accurate – which is kind of ironic since the first series aired on the History Channel. It’s best to assume that, while some things are based on actual history, most of it is fictional.

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A Survey On Pagan and/or Heathen Beliefs and Ideals

A hand holding a pen and checking off boxes on a survey form
Close-up Of Businessman Filling Customer Survey Form
A group at Grinnell College is doing a study on the religious and political beliefs of Pagans and/or Heathens, I’ve done the questionnaire for the study and it’s rather interesting and thought-provoking. I also think the results will be quite interesting.

I’m posting the link here in hopes that other Pagans and/or Heathens will also want to respond. The more people who participate, the more accurate the study will be.

If you’re interested, go to to participate!

H/T Ryan Smith (Mastodon)

Can Viking Virtues Defeat “Wokeness”?

Arthur Herman, writing at Fox News, is concerned about the “plague of CRT and wokeness”, but he thinks it’s about to end:

The return of Bob Iger to leadership at Disney, and Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, are signals that the leftist madness that had seized America’s biggest corporations is starting to turn around. Americans are also more aware than ever that this systematic attack on American culture, history, traditional institutions, and the American family has benefited communist China

He also thinks he has the solution for the “leftest madness” (aka progressive policies) – he thinks that conservatives need to adopt more Viking virtues.

I would suggest that the key for doing this can be found in the virtues that brought the first Europeans to the shores of North America, despite the risks and uncertainties — namely the Vikings. The virtues that sustained those intrepid explorers, traders, and settlers, in the world’s most dangerous waters, are precisely the ones Americans will rediscover in 2023.

What kind of virtues does he ascribe to the Vikings? According to Herman, they are the spirit of entrepreneurship, an instinct of workmanship, commitment to family, and meeting all challenges with agility and bold innovation. How do these values challenge progressive policies? It’s not terribly clear, especially since the values he cites are hardly exclusively conservative values. What do I mean? Well, let’s take a look at a couple of his examples.

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