Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Father Charles Edward Coughlin

Parlor Figure Name: Father Charles Edward Coughlinn

Birth-Death: October 25, 1891 - October 27, 1979

Residence: Born Canada. Father Coughlin joined the Detroit diocese, becoming the pastor at St. Therese of Lisieux also known as the National Shrine of the Little Flower. (1)

Occupation: Father Coughlin was ordained into the priesthood in 1916 after which he joined the National Shrine of the Little Flower as their priest.(2) During his tenure in the 1930's Father Coughlin became an influential voice in politics by promoting issues such as social justice. In doing so Father Coughlin, began to illustrate the importance of religion in the realm of politics. Father Coughlin's use of the new medium of radio allowed him to maintain himself as relevant and ubiquitous voice in a nation exploring new horizons in communication. This new found influence allowed him to take on various political endeavors.
Catholic priest as well as a founder of the National Union for Social Justice, founder of the Union Party. Radio talk show host and publisher of the periodical Social Justice.

What’s this person best known for? Father Coughlin is known for his nationally syndicated program of which has been said that "on a balmy Sunday afternoon one could walk down the streets of many an American city and never miss a word of his weekly radio broadcast"(2). Father Coughlin was initially a supporter of  Frankling D. Roosevelt's New Deal, helping coin the phrase "Roosevelt or Ruin".(3) He later opposed FDR's economic and poltical ideas deeming them to be too friendly to bankers. Father Coughlin began to use his radio program to speak against bankers, FDR and Jews, who he believed were behind the financial disaster.(4) Such commentary on his part forced many of the radio stations to try to limit or cancel his broadcast and airtime. He was later required to submit written transcripts in advance for censorship.

Race/Ethnicity/Religion : Catholic

Politics: Out of frustration with the actions of FDR, Father Coughlin formed the Union Party. Father Coughlin had a disdain for "the international banker, the international Jew and international communism" (5) Father Coughlin believed in nationalizing certain industries and waged war specifically against the Federal Reserve. Father Coughlin supported Huey Long until his assassination. Father Coughlin was often associated with the populist movement.

Major Activities in the 1930s: During the 1930's Father Coughlin was mainly involved with radio program, in which he spoke against many thing. This would be his main occupation until radio stations on which his show was syndicated began asking for transcripts in advance in an effort to censor him. 

Major Works (include dates and place of publication where applicable):

 -A series of lectures on social justice, by the Rev. Chas. E. Coughlin ... broadcast over a national network. Royal Oak, Mich., The Radio League of the Little Flower, 1935
Places where figure’s work often appears (magazines, radio, nightclubs, galleries): Father Coughlin appeared on the radio until 1940 when his antisemitic views began to be looked down upon and his isolationist views made him seem unpatriotic in the eyes of many. Father Coughlin was mentioned by Woody Guthrie in his song Lindbergh which talked about facism.

Organizations s/he belongs to, causes s/he supports: Father Coughlin was a Catholic Priest who formed the Union Party out of his unhappiness with FDR policies. He was antisemitic. Father Coughlin is often labeled a populist, he was vehemently opposed to communism.

Best sound bites by or about this figure, including source (if this person is a writer, you must include a quote by him or her): 

Was this person a popular or critical success? Father Coughlin was popular at the height of his radio broadcast due to his anti government, anti banker and populist beliefs. His antisemitic views were controversial and were not supported by the Vatican or Cardinals. 


What primary research have you done?

(2) Warren, Donald. Radio Priest: Charles Coughlin, The Father of Hate Radio.Free Press.1996
(3) Titusville Herald. Titusville, Pennsylvania. Friday, January 19, 1934. Page 4

(4) Oelwein Daily Register. Oelwein, Iowa. Wednesday, December 14, 1938.Page 2
(5) The Wisconsin Magazine of History. Facism and Father Coughlin. Vol. 44, No.1, Autumn, 1960. 

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