Charles Coughlin

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Coughlin in 1933

Charles Edward Coughlin (October 25, 1891 – October 27, 1979), was a Canadian-American Roman Catholic priest based in the United States near Detroit. Commonly known as Father Coughlin, he was one of the first political leaders to use radio to reach a mass audience: during the 1930s, an estimated 30 million listeners tuned to his weekly broadcasts. He was forced off the air in 1939 because of his pro-fascist and anti-semitic rhetoric.


  • The most dangerous Communism [...] is the wolf in sheep's clothing of conservatism who bent upon preserving the policies of greed.
  • Our government still upholds one of the worst evils of decadent capitalism, namely, that production must be only at the profit for the owners, for the capitalist, and not the laborers.
    • "'Roosevelt or Ruin,' Asserts Radio Priest at Hearing", The Washington Post (January 17, 1934), pp. 1-2
  • 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!
    • "'Roosevelt or Ruin," Asserts Radio Priest at Hearing", The Washington Post (January 17, 1934), pp. 1-2
  • Must the entire world go to war for 600,000 Jews in Germany who are neither American, nor French, nor English citizens, but citizens of Germany?
    • Detroit News (January 30, 1939)
  • From European entanglements, from Nazism, communism and their future wars, America must stand aloof. Keep America safe for Americans and the Stars and Stripes the defender of God.
    • Detroit News (January 2, 1939)
  • Roosevelt has a poor brand of Russian communism … I think it is significant the leaders among the communists of the world never once attacked international bankers. Roosevelt will not touch that subject.
    • Detroit News (August 31, 1935)
  • If Jews persist in supporting communism directly or indirectly, that will be regrettable. By their failure to use the press, the radio and the banking house, where they stand so prominently, to fight communism as vigorously as they Nazism, the Jews invite the charge of being supporters of communism.
    • Detroit News (November 28, 1938)
  • [W]e shall barter our sovereignty as a free, independent nation or accept the decisions of a World Court as a super-nation to manage our affairs… While we sympathize with the Serbian or the Russian, with the Jew in Germany or the Christian in Russia, the major portion of our sympathy is extended to our dispossessed farmer, our disconsolate laborers who are being crushed at this moment while the spirit of internationalism runs rampant in the corridors of the Capitol, hoping to participate in setting the world aright while chaos clamors at our doors.
    • Detroit News (January 28, 1935)
  • One thing is sure. Democracy is doomed. This is our last election. It is fascism or communism. We are at the crossroads—I take the road to fascism.
  • I am beginning to understand why I have been dubbed a 'Nazi' and or a 'fascist' by the Jewish publications in America; for practically all the 16 principles of social justice are being put into practice in Italy and Germany.
  • I oppose modem capitalism because by its very nature it cannot and will not function for the common good. In fact, it is a detriment to civilization.
  • At any rate I was persuaded by a lot of gentlemen, important gentlemen around the country, to get up an organization for the purposes of indoctrinating the people with the principles of social justice. That was it. It wasn't political, although you can't prove it wasn't political. If you’re indoctrinating anybody today, you’re in politics.
    • Broadcast speech (1935), as quoted in "Before the Colors Fade: The Radio Priest,” American Heritage (October 1972) vol. 23, issue 6.
  • When we get through with the Jews in America, they’ll think the treatment they received in Germany was nothing.
    • Speech (Summer 1938), as cited in William Manchester, The Glory And The Dream, New York, NY: Bantam Books (1974) p. 176.
  • 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.
    • Speech (1935), as cited in Micheal Kazin The Populist Persuasion: An American History, New York: Basic Book, 1995, p. 109

”Father Coughlin & The Search For ‘Social Justice’”

Broadcast Speech (November 11, 1934), Preamble and Principles of his National Union for Social Justice
  • I believe in nationalizing those public resources which by their very nature are too important to be held in the control of private individuals.
    • Broadcast speech (November 11, 1934)
  • I am not boasting when I say to you that I know the pulse of the people. I know it better than all your newspaper men. I know it better than do all your industrialists with your paid-for advice. I am not exaggerating when I tell you of their demand for social justice which, like a tidal wave, is sweeping over this nation.
    • Broadcast speech (November 11, 1934)
  • Following this preamble, these shall be the principles of social justice towards the realization of which we must strive:… I believe that every citizen willing to work and capable of working shall receive a just, living, annual wage which will enable him both to maintain and educate his family according to the standards of American decency.
    • Broadcast speech (November 11, 1934)
  • I believe in upholding the right to private property but in controlling it for the public good.
    • Broadcast speech (November 11, 1934)
  • I believe that, in the event of a war for the defense of our nation and its liberties, there shall be a conscription of wealth as well as a conscription of men.
    • Broadcast speech (November 11, 1934)

"President Roosevelt and Social Justice!"

Broadcast Speech (January 6, 1935)
  • In this nation there is ample room for everyone to profit according to his merit provided he is willing to work. Henceforth our national motto shall be ‘security for all.’ Henceforth our laws will be so written and so executed that financial privileges for the few shall disappear. This is what is meant when Mr. Roosevelt said: "Among our objectives I place the security of the men, women and children of the Nation first." These words indicate the philosophy which will guide our President during his tenure of office. It is the philosophy of social justice which is about to vanquish the sophistry of greed and of individualism.
  • Let them heed the words of the President that "we have undertaken a new order of things". Let them be cautious, henceforth, because only at their own personal peril will they dare obstruct the rising of this sun of social justice which will not set until the new economic system will have been perfected.
  • In a sense, gentlemen, grant that Machiavelli was right. Grant that Machiavelli his genius when he said that by their very nature the masses require a strong hand and a superior brain to rule them and to exploit them.

A Series of Lectures on Social Justice (1935)

Royal Oaks; Michigan, The Radio League of the Little Flower, (1935)
  • If I own a shotgun that is no argument why I may kill my neighbor’s child. If I own a factory that is no argument why I may starve the laborers to make profits and profits only for the stockholders. All property is subject to control.
    • "Social Justice and A Living Wage" speech (November 18, 1934), p. 26
  • I believe that, in the present state of human society, it is advisable that the hourly wage contract should be abolished. In its stead legislation would be passed by which the laborer would receive an annual wage which would enable him to live in decently and according to the American standard.
    • "Social Justice and A Living Wage" speech (November 18, 1934), p. 27
  • The representatives of labor should have a voice in the management of the business.
    • "Social Justice and A Living Wage" speech (November 18, 1934), p. 27
  • Are you for the old deal with its industrial dictatorship and its doctrine of laissez faire-ism or are you for a new deal whereby the government shall legislate against unfair competition, against concentration or profits in the hands of stockholders?
    • “Social Justice and A Living Wage” speech (November 18, 1934), pp. 29-30
  • Modern capitalism violates right order because it so employ the working of wage earning classes as to divert business and economic activity to its own advantage without any regard to the human dignity of the workers, the social character of economic life, social justice, and the common good.
    • "What Prevents a Just and Living Wage" speech (November 2, 1934), p. 43
  • From modern capitalism, as from a poisoned fountainhead, there flows that stream of detestable internationalism, by which the Warburgs, the Rothschilds and the Morgans dominate affairs not only in America but also in the Central Banks of Europe… It is an internationalism which cares not for the righteousness of social justice or of sound philosophy, but is willing for the protection of its private property, to become a bed-fellow with the harlot of the ages.
    • "What Prevents a Just and Living Wage" speech (November 2, 1934), p. 45
  • We maintain that it is not only the prerogative but it is also the duty of the government to limit the amount of profits acquired by any industry.
    • "Share the Profits with Labor" speech (December 2, 1934), p. 52
  • 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.
    • "Share the Profits with Labor" speech (December 2, 1934), p. 52
  • I mean that you have been constantly deceived. Are you not aware that this so-called democratic country of ours has been controlled by the capitalist and the plutocrat? Have you not learned through bitter experience that no political party seriously cares for your welfare. The mockery of your vote was all that counted. I mean that you have been victims of class legislation—of legislation designed to protect the rich and the property rights of the rich; legislation which sneered at the poor and at human rights.
    • "Share the Profits with Labor" speech (December 2, 1934), p. 53
  • Nor does the concept of the Fascist or Nazi dictator appeal to the American liberty loving citizen with his traditional love for democracy and republican institutions which bar both Nazism and Fascism.
    • "Money Is No Mystery" speech (December 30, 1934), p. 98


  • [I] couldn't honestly take back much of what I said and did in the old days when people still listened to me.
    The press ignored it at the time [...] but [the] real reason I couldn't take any more of Roosevelt was because he recognized the atheistic, godless government of the Communists in Russia.
  • I could have bucked the Government and won — the people would have supported me. But I didn't have the heart left, for my church had spoken. It was my duty to follow, for disobedience is a great sin.

About Father Coughlin

  • Then, too, there was Father Coughlin. "I take the road of Fascism," he said in 1936, before forming the Christian Front, whose members referred to themselves as "brown shirts." His virulently anti-Semitic radio program, regularly transmitting claims from the fabricated Protocols of the Elders of Zion, reached almost 30 million Americans at its height—the largest radio audience in the world at the time. Those listeners tuned in at the end of 1938 as Coughlin was justifying the violence of Kristallnacht, arguing that it was "reprisal" against Jews who had supposedly murdered more than twenty million Christians and stolen billions of dollars in "Christian property"; Nazism, he said, was a natural "defense mechanism" against the communism financed by Jewish bankers. Coughlin’s weekly newspaper, Social Justice, which had an estimated circulation of 200,000 at its height, was described by Life magazine at the time as probably the most widely read voice of "Nazi propaganda in America."
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