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Fr. Coughlin - Jesuit?

Posted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:06 pm
by shortwaveboy86
I collect old radio shows as well as study propaganda. I'm currently taking a college class called "International Propaganda" which uses a book by Garth Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell called "Propaganda and Persuasion" (4th Ed., Sage Publications, ISBN 1412908981). It features a section about Fr. Charles E. Coughlin, remembered to OTR fans as the infamous Radio Priest. However, it names him as "Fr. Charles Coughlin, S.J." - a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest. I never recall hearing that Fr. Coughlin was a Jesuit, nor have I found any information to back this up on the internet. Sadly, I do not have my "Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio" with me, but I do not recall John Dunning's entry featuring this information. Is there anyone out there who can confirm that Fr. Coughlin was or was not a Jesuit? Thank you!

Posted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 11:46 pm
by Lou
Interesting summary of Fr Coughlin on Wikipedia

No info there indicating he was or was not a Jesuit, but his parishes were named, and you might get more information from their records.

Re: Fr. Coughlin - Jesuit?

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 12:10 pm
by Monsterwax
Coughlin is a very historical character in radio and the creation of the FCC. We studied his case at great length in graduate school Communications. He was anti-communist and anti-war, and he supported Roosevelt when FDR promised to keep the USA out of WW2. Once in office, however, Roosevelt was anything but neutral. He started supplying and subsidizing England with weapons and warships while putting embargoes on any sort of materials that might help Germany (like helium, which eventually led to the Hindenburg air disaster). He also ran afoul Coughlin's anti-communist beliefs with the socialist oriented policies of "New Deal". Coughlin started attacking FDR and his policies on his radio widely listened to radio show. (Coughlin had one of the largest listenerships for his program at the time, which was a larger % of Americans than any single personality has ever had on radio or TV before or since.) Roosevelt responded by creating the FCC to kick Coughlin off the air. The new approach to radio was that it did NOT enjoy the same freedom of the press that books and newspapers did, arguing instead that radio was a limited resource with limited broadcast spectrum, and therefor the government had a right to limit the access of this resource through licenses. When broadcasters submitted for licenses, guess who didn't get one? Coughlin. Without a license, he couldn't give any more live broadcasts. Coughlin reacted by finding a legal loophole: he pre-recorded his show on records and paid to have it played on licensed stations, just as music records were. The FCC, responding to pressure from what was basically a one party government at the time, threatened to revoke licenses from any stations that played Coughlin's speeches. They all stopped. It was clear case of political censorship, but the other stations saw Coughlin as a competitor, as did the newspapers, so there were precious few willing to risk the President's wrath by supporting Coughlin's cause. Coughlin resorted by creating his own newspaper, Social Justice, which he mailed to subscribers across the nation. He figured Roosevelt couldn't do anything about that since freedom of the press was the well established law of the land. But Roosevelt was so powerful at the time, that he was actually able to cut off Coughlin's mailing privileges, so the popular priest had no way to reach his audience unless he hired taxies and trucking companies to deliver his newspaper door to door. Cut off from his supporters, new pressure was applied to Coughlin's superiors to get him out of politics. Coughlin's Bishop issued him the ultimatum to chose "Social Justice" or The Church. Having seen the handwriting on the wall that Roosevelt and his political machine would do whatever it took to shut him up (to the point of creating new laws and selectively enforcing old ones), Coughlin chose to stick with the church and gave up his fight against Roosevelt and his New Deal. It was a big victory for Roosevelt and the status quo, but it also haunted radio (and future television) ever since, because it established a legal precedent that the government can pick and choose who and what is allowed on the air, unlike newspapers and print media. And that, in a nutshell, is the origin of the Federal Communications Commission.

Re: Fr. Coughlin - Jesuit?

Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 2:48 pm
by Monsterwax
I've found another good resource on Father Coughlin. The log showing 81 episodes of the broadcast, of which only five or so are unknown. I believe copies of the shows themselves are also available for a fee (they are 60 minutes long) and the post is only a year old. It's at:

Good luck!

Re: Fr. Coughlin - Jesuit?

Posted: Sat May 22, 2010 10:43 am
by Monsterwax
Here's some third party info on Father Coughlin, and the free speech/ political battle between him and FDR's folks (a battle Coughlin lost).


During his peak, Father Charles Coughlin was considered the undisputed king of talk radio. And whether a fan of Coughlin’s or one of the many denouncers of his "brand" of social justice, he continued to systematically etch his place into the fabric of American culture. His show began in the mid 1920s and peaked during the early 1930s. At the time, his broadcasts were one of the most popular in the country, drawing in millions of viewers and receiving upwards of 80,000 letters per week.

The first outspoken voice against Coughlin came from a fellow holy-man. The Reverend Walton E. Cole, a minister in Ohio, urged the Roman Catholic Church to remove Coughlin and his seditious broadcasts from the air. Father Coughlin’s personal attacks on Roosevelt, industrialism, and the Jewish people worked to have him shunned by many priests and pastors of the era, though Coughlin’s show still remained on the air with a heavy base.
When this approach didn’t work, the Roosevelt administration declared that the First Amendment’s free speech didn’t cover radio broadcasts, and Coughlin was promptly forced from the air when he was unable to receive a newly mandatory operating permit. Coughlin’s counter to this was to purchase independent air time and play prerecorded shows on the air.

In 1939, the Code Committee of the National Association of Broadcasters forged new rules and placed increasingly rigid limitations on the sale of radio time to controversial spokesmen. This was directly aimed at Father Coughlin and his unwillingness to concede his throne as the nation’s top dissenting voice. Now, manuscripts would have to be given in advance, and stations were threatened with a loss of license should they not comply with the new standards on "free speech." In a 1939 issue of Social Justice, Coughlin stated that he had been forced off the air by those who controlled circumstances beyond his reach.

Even though the government – the very entity put in place of guarding free speech – found a loophole to destroy it, Coughlin estimated that the written word was still "untouchable." He then started to heavily print uncensored editorials in his newspaper. In a relentless game of cat-and-mouse, the Roosevelt administration stepped in again removing Father Coughlin’s mailing rights and making it impossible for his papers to reach their destinations. The administration cited that Coughlin could print whatever he wanted, but did not have the right to use the United States Post Office Department to send his publications.

Soon after, Coughlin found his influence was greatly reduced. The world quickly began to change around Coughlin, and he was now considered a true enemy of the state for his isolationist ways and sympathetic leanings toward the enemy. He was ordered to stop his political activities and take over the duties of parish priest at the Shrine of the Little Flower. Coughlin retired in 1966 and continued to write anti-communist papers until his death in 1979.

No, Not A Jesuit

Posted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 2:57 am
by telegonus
The answer to your question is no, Father Coughlin was not a Jesuit. He belonged to an order that I've been trying to google and can't find right now. It's now defunct, was a learned order like the Jesuits in some ways,--they tended to be teachers--less rigorously intellectual (though Fr. Coughlin was himself no slouch).

The order was done away with, or maybe I should say gradually phased out, in Coughlin's lifetime; and yet those ordained in that order were allowed to remain, however there were no new ordinations and no official hierarchy within the order. I got this info from a biography I read of Coughlin some fifteen years ago the title of which was I believe Radio Priest. It was a fair book, didn't stint on the unpleasant aspects of Coughlin's life and career, wasn't a hatchet job, either.

BTW, that order Coughlin belonged to allowed their members to live independently, even buy property, invest in the stock market. In his heyday Father Coughlin lived large, had a large stock portfolio, and even after he was officially "silenced" he held onto his money, died a wealthy man.