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Father Coughlin - "The Radio Priest' - pre WWII talk radio - Instant Download

Father Coughlin - "The Radio Priest' - pre WWII talk radio - Instant Download

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Before there was rush Limbaugh, there was Father Couglin.

Father Charles Edward Coughlin (October 25, 1891 – October 27, 1979) was a controversial Catholic priest at Royal Oak, Michigan's National Shrine of the Little Flower Church. He was one of the first political leaders to use radio to reach a mass audience, as more than thirty million tuned to his weekly broadcasts during the 1930s. Early in his career Coughlin was a vocal supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his early New Deal proposals, before later becoming a harsh critic of Roosevelt as too friendly to bankers. In 1934 he announced a new political organization called the "Nation's Union of Social Justice." He wrote a platform calling for monetary reforms, the nationalization of major industries and railroads, and protection of the rights of labor. The membership ran into the millions, resembling the Populist movement of the 1890s.

Coughlin was born in Hamilton, Ontario, to Irish Catholic parents, Thomas J. Coughlin and Amelia Coughlin, and was ordained to the priesthood in Toronto in 1916. He taught at Assumption College in Windsor, Ontario, before moving to Detroit in 1923. He began his radio broadcasts in 1926 on station WJR, in response to cross burnings by the Ku Klux Klan on the grounds of his church, giving a weekly hour long radio program. In 1931 the CBS radio network dropped free sponsorship after Coughlin refused to accept network demands that his scripts be reviewed prior to broadcast, so he raised money to create his own national network, which soon reached millions of listeners on a 36-station hookup. He strongly endorsed Franklin D. Roosevelt during the 1932 Presidential election. He was an early supporter of Roosevelt's New Deal reforms and coined the phrase "Roosevelt or Ruin", which became famous during the early days of the first FDR administration. Another phrase he became known for was "The New Deal is Christ's Deal." In January 1934, Coughlin testified before Congress in support of FDR's policies, saying, "If Congress fails to back up the President in his monetary program, I predict a revolution in this country which will make the French Revolution look silly!" He further stated to the Congressional hearing, "God is directing President Roosevelt."

Coughlin's support for Roosevelt and his New Deal faded later in 1934, when he founded the National Union for Social Justice (NUSJ), a nationalistic worker's rights organization which grew impatient with what it viewed as the President's unconstitutional and pseudo-capitalistic monetary policies. His radio programs preached more and more about the negative influence of "money changers" and "permitting a group of private citizens to create money" at the expense of the general welfare of the public. He also spoke about the need for monetary reform based on "free silver". Coughlin claimed that the Depression was a "cash famine". Some modern economic historians, in part, agree with this assessment. Coughlin proposed monetary reforms, including the nationalization of the Federal Reserve System, as the solution.

Among the NUSJ's articles of faith were work and income guarantees, nationalizing "necessary" industry, wealth redistribution through taxation of the wealthy, federal protection of worker's unions, and decreasing property rights in favor of the government controlling the country's assets for "public good." Illustrative of his disdain for capitalism is his statement

We maintain the principle that there can be no lasting prosperity if free competition exists in industry. Therefore, it is the business of government not only to legislate for a minimum annual wage and maximum working schedule to be observed by industry, but also to curtail individualism that, if necessary, factories shall be licensed and their output shall be limited.

By 1934, Coughlin was perhaps the most prominent Roman Catholic speaker on political and financial issues, with a radio audience that reached millions of people every week. When he began criticizing the New Deal that year, Roosevelt sent Joseph P. Kennedy and Frank Murphy, both prominent Irish Catholics, to try to tone him down. Ignoring them, Coughlin began denouncing Roosevelt as a tool of Wall Street. Coughlin supported Huey Long until Long was assassinated in 1935, and then supported William Lemke's Union Party in 1936. As Coughlin turned into a bitter opponent of the New Deal, his radio talks escalated in vehemence against Roosevelt, capitalists and "Jewish conspirators". He was initially supported, and later – after turning on Roosevelt – opposed in his efforts by another nationally known priest, Monsignor John A. Ryan. Kennedy, who strongly supported the New Deal, warned as early as 1933 that Coughlin was "becoming a very dangerous proposition" as an opponent of Roosevelt and "an out and out demagogue." Kennedy worked with Roosevelt, Bishop Francis Spellman and Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII) in a successful effort to get the Vatican to silence Coughlin in 1936. In 1940–41, reversing his own views, Kennedy attacked the isolationism of Coughlin.

In 1935, Coughlin proclaimed, "I have dedicated my life to fight against the heinous rottenness of modern capitalism because it robs the laborer of this world's goods. But blow for blow I shall strike against Communism, because it robs us of the next world's happiness." He accused Roosevelt of "leaning toward international socialism on the Spanish question." Coughlin's NUSJ gained a strong following among nativists and opponents of the Federal Reserve, especially in the Midwest. As Michael Kazin notes, Coughlinites saw Wall Street and Communism as twin faces of a secular Satan. Coughlinites believed that they were defending those people who cohered more through piety, economic frustration, and a common dread of powerful, modernizing enemies than through any class identity.

One of Coughlin's campaign slogans was: "Less care for internationalism and more concern for national prosperity" which went well with the 1930s isolationist movement in the United States. Coughlin's organization especially appealed to Irish Catholics.

In 1936, Coughlin helped found a short-lived political party, the Union Party, which nominated William Lemke for President. Coughlin promised to retire if Lemke did not get nine million votes, and when he received only 900,000 Coughlin stopped broadcasting briefly, returning to the air in 1937.

After the 1936 election, Coughlin increasingly expressed sympathy for the fascist policies of Hitler and Mussolini as an antidote to Bolshevism. His weekly broadcasts became suffused with antisemitic themes. He blamed the Depression on an "international conspiracy of Jewish bankers", and also claimed that Jewish bankers were behind the Russian Revolution. On November 27, 1938, he said "There can be no doubt that the Russian Revolution ... was launched and fomented by distinctively Jewish influence."
A man in a big-city street between parked cars holds a folded newspaper up in front of his face with one hand, and carries other copies with his other hand. The man's suit and the cars' styles are from the 1930s. The newspaper masthead is "Social Just..." and the huge lead headline reads "ANNIVERSARY OF VERSAILLES ... THREAT TO U.S. PEACE".
Social Justice on sale in a New York City street, 1939

He began publication of a weekly rotogravure magazine, Social Justice, during this period. Coughlin claimed that Marxist atheism in Europe was a Jewish plot against America. The December 5, 1938 issue of Social Justice included an article by Coughlin which, according to some accounts, too closely resembled a speech made by Joseph Goebbels on September 13, 1935 attacking Jews, atheists and communists, with some sections being copied verbatim by Coughlin from an English translation of the Goebbels speech. At a rally in the Bronx in 1938, he reportedly gave a Nazi salute and said, "When we get through with the Jews in America, they'll think the treatment they received in Germany was nothing." Coughlin did state "Nothing can be gained by linking ourselves with any organization which is engaged in agitating racial animosities or propagating racial hatreds." Furthermore, in an interview with Edward Doherty of the weekly magazine Liberty, Coughlin states:

My purpose is to help eradicate from the world its mania for persecution, to help align all good men. Catholic and Protestant, Jew and Gentile, Christian and non-Christian, in a battle to stamp out the ferocity, the barbarism and the hate of this bloody era. I want the good Jews with me, and I'm called a Jew baiter, an anti-Semite.

On November 20, 1938, two weeks after Kristallnacht, Coughlin, referring to the millions of Christians killed by the Russian Marxists, said "Jewish persecution only followed after Christians first were persecuted." After this speech, and as his programs became more antisemitic, some radio stations, including those in New York and Chicago, began refusing to air his speeches without pre-approved scripts; in New York, his programs were cancelled by WINS and WMCA, leaving Coughlin to broadcasting on the Newark part-time station WHBI. On December 18, 1938 two thousand of Coughlin's followers marched in New York protesting potential changes to the asylum law that would allow more Jews (including refugees from Hitler's persecution) into the U.S., chanting, "Send Jews back where they came from in leaky boats!" and "Wait until Hitler comes over here!" The protests continued for several months. Donald Warren, using information from the FBI and German government archives, has also argued that Coughlin received indirect funding from Nazi Germany during this period.

After 1936, Coughlin began supporting an organization called the Christian Front, which claimed him as an inspiration. In January 1940, a New York City unit of the Christian Front was raided by the FBI for plotting to overthrow the government. Coughlin had never been a member but his reputation suffered a fatal decline.
Cancellation of radio show

At its peak in the early 1930s, Coughlin's radio show was phenomenally popular. His office received up to 80,000 letters per week from listeners, and his listening audience was estimated to rise at times to as much as a third of the nation. Coughlin is often credited as one of the major demagogues of the 20th century for being able to influence politics through broadcasting, without actually holding a political office himself.

Earl Alfred Boyea, Jr. in 1995 showed that the Catholic Church did not approve of Coughlin. The Vatican, the Apostolic Delegation in Washington, D.C., and the archbishop of Cincinnati all wanted him silenced. They recognized that only Coughlin's superior, Detroit Archbishop Michael Gallagher, had the canonical authority to curb him, but Gallagher supported the "Radio Priest". Due to Gallagher's autonomy and the prospect of Coughlin leading a schism, the Roman Catholic leadership did nothing.

A radio battle was fought in the late 1930s between The Reverend Walton E. Cole, a Unitarian minister in Toledo, Ohio, and Coughlin. Cole tried to prevail upon the Roman Catholic hierarchy to have Coughlin's inflammatory broadcasts stopped. Walton Cole's widow, Lorena M. Cole, donated his papers to the Claremont School of Theology with personal notes and reminiscences about this tense episode.

In spite of his early support for Roosevelt, Coughlin's populist message contained bitter attacks on the Roosevelt administration. The administration decided that although the First Amendment protected free speech, it did not necessarily apply to broadcasting, because the radio spectrum was a "limited national resource" and regulated as a publicly owned commons. New regulations and restrictions were created to force Coughlin off the air. For the first time, operating permits were required of those who were regular radio broadcasters. When Coughlin's permit was denied, he was temporarily silenced. Coughlin worked around the restriction by purchasing air time and having his speeches played via transcription. However, having to buy the weekly air time on individual stations seriously reduced his reach and strained his resources.

According to Marcus' book, Coughlin's opposition to the repeal of a neutrality-oriented arms-embargo law triggered more successful efforts to force him off the air. In October 1939, one month after the invasion of Poland, the Code Committee of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) adopted new rules which placed "rigid limitations on the sale of radio time to spokesmen of controversial public issues". Manuscripts were required to be submitted in advance. Radio stations were threatened with the loss of their licenses if they failed to comply. This ruling was clearly aimed at Coughlin due to his opposition to prospective American involvement in World War II. As a result, the September 23, 1939 issue of Social Justice stated that he had been forced from the air "...by those who control circumstances beyond my reach" (pp 173–177).

Coughlin reasoned that although the government had assumed the right to regulate any on-air broadcasts, the First Amendment still guaranteed and protected freedom of the written press. He could still print his editorials without censorship in his own newspaper, Social Justice. However, the Roosevelt Administration stepped in again, this time revoking his mailing privileges and making it impossible for Coughlin to deliver the papers to his readers. He had the right to publish whatever he wanted, but not the right to use the United States Post Office Department to deliver it. The lack of a conduit to his followers seriously reduced his influence, and after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war in December 1941, the anti-interventionist movement (such as the America First Committee) began to sputter out, and isolationists like Coughlin were seen as being sympathetic to the enemy. On May 1, 1942, the Archbishop of Detroit, Most Rev. Edward Mooney, ordered Coughlin to stop his political activities and confine himself to his duties as a parish priest, warning that he would be defrocked if he refused. Coughlin complied and remained the pastor of the Shrine of the Little Flower until retiring in 1966.

Coughlin refused most interview opportunities, and continued to write pamphlets blaming Jews for Communism until his death in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in 1979, at the age of 88. (from Wikipedia)

Father Coughlin 1937-02-14 PrimerOnCommunismVsChristianity.mp3
Father Coughlin 1937-02-21 PopularFrontVsChristianFront.mp3
Father Coughlin 1937-03-28 EasterBroadcast.mp3
Father Coughlin 1937-04-04 StillPayingForWW1.mp3
Father Coughlin 1937-04-11 ReliefThatFailsToRelieve.mp3
Father Coughlin 1938-11-20.mp3
Father Coughlin 1938-11-27.mp3
Father Coughlin 1938-12-04.mp3
Father Coughlin 1938-12-11 JewsSupportCommunism.mp3
Father Coughlin 1938-12-18.mp3
Father Coughlin 1938-12-25.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-01-01.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-01-08.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-01-15.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-01-22.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-01-29.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-03-13 BondsAndNeutrality.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-03-19 NationWideAntiWarContext.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-03-26 CzechoslovakiaProblemIsInAmerica.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-04-02 HistoryOfHolyWeek.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-04-09 TheResurrection.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-04-16 UnjustAggressors.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-04-23 RecapOfPreviousWeek.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-04-30 SoThisIsDemocracy.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-05-07 PropagandaAtWork.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-05-14 MothersChallengeToWarmongers.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-05-21 WhereDoWeStand.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-06-25 GovernmentByMan.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-07-02 DeclarationAndWashingtonFarewell.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-07-16 AnAppealToTheLaboringMan.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-07-23 ResponseToElliottRoosevelt.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-08-06 ALivingWagePt1.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-08-06 ALivingWagePt2.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-08-13 ToTheLaboringMen.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-08-20 ThePopularFront.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-08-27.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-09-03.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-09-10 CashAndCarryWillEvolveIntoCreditAndCarry.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-09-17 StrictNeutralityAndNoCashAndCarry.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-09-24 NoProsperityInMachinegunningOurBrothersInChr.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-12-24 FeastOfChristmas.mp3
Father Coughlin 1939-12-31 ReviewOfPast10Years.mp3
Father Coughlin 1940-01-07 ConcernsToTheChristianFamily.mp3
Father Coughlin 1940-01-07 FDRMessageToCongress.mp3
Father Coughlin 1940-01-21 ITakeMyStand.mp3
Father Coughlin 1940-01-28 DiscussingAChristianFront.mp3
Father Coughlin 1940-02-04 NoFather CoughlinAnnouncements.mp3
Father Coughlin 1940-03-17.mp3
Father Coughlin 1940-03-24.mp3
Father Coughlin 1940-04-07 BondsFederalReserveBank.mp3
Father Coughlin 1940-04-14 MoreBonds.mp3
Father Coughlin 1978-00-00 InterviewOnHowardMillerProgram.mp3
Father Coughlin 19xx-xx-xx StartOfFlower.mp3
Father Coughlin38-11-20fixed.mp3
Father Coughlin38-11-27fixed.mp3
Father Coughlin38-12-04fixed.mp3
Father Coughlin39-07-02xDeclarationAndW

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