Friday, July 23, 2010

Oakland County Houses of Worship Get FBI Letter

From Detroit-

A warning letter the FBI is sending to houses of worship in Oakland County is causing concern and confusion. Right now, the feds say they've found no credible threats toward the religious community, but the letter points to vague, suspicious activities around local churches.

Houses of worship throughout Oakland County already have or soon will be receiving a letter warning about suspicious people asking unusual questions. St. Patrick's Episcopal in Madison Heights got the letter.

"The letter came from the FBI stating that there were some suspicious people that are going to different congregations in Oakland County and just to make us aware of it," said Marlene Stirnweis with St. Patrick's Episcopal Church.

An FBI spokesperson says starting last March, local law enforcement reported to the bureau people asked questions at undisclosed churches about building layouts and where people assembled, information that is usually obvious and easy to gather.

The letter says there is no indication of any criminal activity or a terrorist act.

A spokesperson from the FBI says the letter was not intended to suggest there was an actual threat. It was just a way to reach out to the religious community and urge its members to be alert.

Several clergy and church members say the message in the letter is vague, confusing and unsettling.

"Well, a little apprehensive, I guess, to think that people would come in to the church and I don't know do what because it just says suspicious," said Stirnweis.

Houses of worship are usually inviting places and now spreading the word about the FBI's vague warning.

"We will let the congregation know on Sunday verbally and in our newsletter," Stirnweis said.

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