Representative Jim Banks (R., Ind.) on Friday questioned why Democrats have not shown concern for a rash of anti-Catholic hate crimes that have plagued the U.S. in recent months.
Banks’ comments came during an interview with National Review shortly after he and 15 other House Republicans sent a letter to attorney general William Barr calling on the Department of Justice to investigate why there have been 70 instances of anti-Catholic violence in North America this year — with 57 crimes being reported since May alone.
By contrast, in all of 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, the FBI reported 53 incidents of anti-Catholic hate crimes in the U.S.
The letter details reports of “horrific and brutal attacks on Catholic and Church properties” across the nation since July, including churches being burnt down and statues of Catholic figures being toppled and decapitated.
Banks, who is not a Catholic but an Evangelical, questioned why, when he circulated the letter to all of his colleagues in Congress, no Democrats expressed an interest in co-signing.
“There are a number of Democrats who are Catholics, so I would have to ask the question ‘Why aren’t Democrats interested as well, in these attacks against Catholics because their faith?’” he said.
He called the silence another example of how deeply divided the country is and said it is unfortunate that both sides can’t join together in fighting these issues that should be bipartisan.
“There certainly hasn’t been enough concern by our nation’s leaders,” he said. “It’s disheartening that I have yet to hear a single Democrat leader rise up and speak out against attacks of violence directed toward anyone of their faith.”
The Indiana Republican said he believes the anti-Catholic attacks are “entirely politically motivated” because the political views of many Catholics lean to the right.
He also called the rhetoric surrounding Amy Coney Barrett, the reported front-runner for President Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court, concerning. Barrett, who Banks said he hopes will be the president’s pick, has been attacked over her Catholic beliefs, with some comparing her purported membership in People of Praise — which she has never confirmed — to the dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) attacked Barrett’s religious affiliation during her confirmation hearing for the 7th Circuit in 2018, telling Barrett “the dogma lives loudly in you.”
Banks said it is concerning to see attacks on a “good person who has done her job very well, and yet she’s being attacked merely because of her Catholic faith.”
“The attacks on her because of her faith that originate from the Left are concerning to me too and that’s why I believe much of this is politically motivated and this Congress and this administration need to do more about it,” he said.
Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, on Wednesday criticized fellow Senate Democrats for their scrutiny of Barrett’s religious beliefs, saying “religion should not enter into” the conversation over who will fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“Well, I guess whatever side you’re on, they can pick whatever they want to pick. I’m Catholic, OK? And religion should not enter into it. It sure doesn’t with me,” Manchin said.