Skip to content
Breaking News Alert Taxpayer Watchdogs Rip GOP Farm Bill's Billion-Dollar Subsidy Package

What My Family’s Bloody History In The Spanish Civil War Teaches About The FBI’s Assault On Catholics 

Spanish Civil War cross
Image CreditFDRLST / Canva

Authoritarian governments have always hated Christians.


It’s time to revisit the Spanish Civil War — a bloody three-year conflict spanning from 1936 to 1939 in which communists massacred Catholics because the church’s doctrine and its head, Jesus Christ, stood in opposition to their ideology and authority. 

Many Americans have never heard of the Spanish Civil War because it’s often ignored by the history books or overshadowed by World War II, but its history is important given the context of our government’s current demonization and targeting of Catholics.

On Wednesday, House Republicans revealed that FBI Director Christopher Wray lied when he testified that only one field office was involved in a memo labeling traditional Catholics as potential domestic terrorists. Subpoenaed documents, which the FBI attempted to withhold from Congress, revealed that multiple FBI field offices were involved in drafting the memo.   

Moreover, the FBI lied when it stated after a whistleblower exposed the memo that the bureau “will never conduct investigative activities or open an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity.” The GOP-released documents show in detail that the FBI has already infiltrated Catholic communities with various informants to create the infamous memo.

The revelations have been shocking for many Americans who still believe American officials somewhat respect things like the Constitution and its First Amendment. This is why history is key.

In the 1930s, virtually the entire Spanish government was run by left-wing, anti-religious radicals who called themselves “Republicans.” These communist radicals engaged in the widespread persecution of Spanish intellectuals, the upper class, devout Catholics, and clerics. Inequality and terror imposed on the non-communists during the lead-up to the war eventually became intolerable and provoked revolution, with Gen. Francisco Franco staging a right-wing military uprising in 1936 to overthrow the Republican government.

In the run-up to the civil war, the Republicans began their campaign of religious persecution with simple anti-religious policies, such as the banning of all religious schools and removing crucifixes from classrooms. Then they deemed all religious marriages invalid in the eyes of the state.

Anti-church propaganda eventually escalated from smear campaigns to the burning of churches and mass executions of Catholic religious and laypeople by the end of the war. Properties were seized and stolen, and conservatives were convicted of crimes in kangaroo court rulings, leading to unjust executions. 

My great-grandmother and great-grandfather lived through the war, and being middle-class Catholic intellectuals and vocal opponents of communism, it is no surprise they were primary targets of Republican aggression. My grandmother, in particular, was considered a threat to the Republicans, as she was a prolific writer who poured her thoughts on medicine, politics, and Catholicism into hundreds of articles during the lead-up to the war. 

My great-grandfather was the subdirector of a large metal company in Madrid. He was not rich by any means, but he did have a little piece of land outside Madrid. During the war, my great-grandfather was captured by Republicans who, following a kangaroo court proceeding, had him incarcerated. 

At the time, the communists made prisons out of anything. My great-grandfather was imprisoned in a building in Madrid with three of his friends, one of whom was a priest. In the middle of the war, for reasons I do not know, the communists ordered that my great-grandfather and his fellow inmates be released. My great-grandfather took his release papers and left immediately without picking up his belongings, going into hiding for the remainder of the war. 

The other three prisoners went to collect their belongings that were confiscated when they began their time in prison. My great-grandfather would later learn that all three of those men were summarily executed when they went to pick up their things. 

During that time, my great-grandmother did not know if her husband was captured or escaped, dead or alive, but she lived in fear that the Republicans would come for her too. In the dead of night, she left her home in Madrid, escaping on a midnight train with her four children, aged 1, 2, 3, and 4, and her typewriter. She lived out the remainder of the war with her children and father in a rented room in Santander. 

My great-grandparents suffered greatly in the war. They lost their house, their savings, possessions, and each other, only reuniting when the war was over in 1939. Even greater victims of the war, however, were countless other religious people. 

One of my great-grandmother’s extended family members was a priest during the war. He was captured by communists and was forced to dig his own grave. He stood before a firing squad on the edge of his self-dug grave. When the squad fired, only his arm was grazed. He begged the men to shoot him, but instead, his executioners buried him alive. 

By the end of the war, a reported “13 bishops, 4,172 priests, 2,364 monks and friars and 283 nuns and sisters,” and an unknown number of lay people were killed.

We cannot be apathetic toward the FBI’s targeting of Catholics, nor can we fail to speak out against the cultural demonization of Christians, whether that be at Dodgers games or on the lips of Vice President Kamala Harris

We have already seen physical assaults on the church. During the 2020 summer of rage, churches and religious statues across the country were torched, looted, and vandalized by Marxist rioters. After the overturning of Roe v. Wade, pro-life centers, many of which were Catholic-run, were burned to the ground by pro-abortion terrorists, and to this day the FBI has done virtually nothing about it. Meanwhile, peaceful Christian pro-lifers have had their homes raided by federal agents and faced steep fines and prison time. 

Surveillance techniques once reserved for foreign terrorists are being used on faithful Catholics, not because the FBI truly believes Christians are racist, but because the FBI is threatened by Catholic theology, just like the communists in Spain. 

To be clear, all Christians pose a threat to irreligious, authoritarian governments. Catholics, however, with their centuries-old hierarchy, traditions, and unchanging stances on things like abortion, birth control, and marriage, have been uniquely positioned to oppose Marxism and therefore uniquely targeted throughout history.

This is why the persecution of Catholics in our country should send up smoke signals to everyone. American cultural Marxism and our increasingly Chinese-style socialist market economy are incompatible with Christianity, and if we’ve learned anything from the Spanish Civil War, the result will go far beyond unconstitutional surveillance. It will end in bloodshed.

Access Commentsx