Saturday, October 23, 2021

Toronto St. Mike's College and St. Basil's Seminary Graduate: The populist US priest who set up an antisemitic militia


Catholic Toronto Basilian fascism Nazi anti-semitism media radio clergy Detroit militia America First incitement

At the height of the Great Depression in the early 1930s, 30 million Americans tuned their dials every Sunday afternoon to listen to the words of a Catholic priest from the Detroit suburbs.

But Father Charles Coughlin had long strayed beyond children’s catechism classes.

Instead, the so-called “radio priest” served up a mix of economic populism, staunch anti-communism and conspiracy theories — ones in which, as the decade dragged on, Jews would inevitably come to figure ever-more prominently.

Although now largely a historical footnote, Coughlin, who was born 120 years ago this week, prefigured the later rise of talk radio, has drawn comparisons with Donald Trump, and offers a historical perspective on current debates around the role of media companies in policing the boundaries of free speech.

Born in Canada, Coughlin attended a seminary in Toronto before being ordained a priest in 1916. After 10 years teaching at a Catholic college, he accepted the invitation of the Bishop of Detroit to establish a new parish in Royal Oak, a working-class suburb of the city, where he went on to build his church, the Shrine of the Little Flower.

Coughlin later claimed that, a few weeks after his arrival, the Ku Klux Klan — which targeted Catholics as well as Jews and African Americans — burned a cross in the churchyard. A sympathetic Irish-Catholic businessman, who owned Detroit’s WJR radio station, allowed the priest time on air to explain Catholicism to the community.  (more...)

The populist US priest who set up an antisemitic militia

On Wikipedia:

Charles Coughlin

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