Charles Edward Coughlin was one of the first people to develop a mass following on the radio and to turn it to political purposes. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, on October 27, 1879, and was ordained a priest in the Catholic Church in 1916. He served in various parishes before being assigned to the Shrine of the Little Flower in Detroit, Michigan, in 1923.
He began his radio broadcasts in 1926 and at first confined himself to religious topics. In the waning years of the Hoover administration, however, he turned to politics and heaped scorn on Hoover`s policies. Initially, he favored Roosevelt`s New Deal, but when FDR appeared to friendly to bankers, Coughlin turned increasingly against him.
In 1936, Father Coughlin formed the Union Party along with supporters of the Townsend plan and Gerald L.K. Smith, who brought with him the remnant of the backers of Huey Long. Entering the election of 1936 with high hopes, the Union Party, however, received fewer than a million votes.
Father`s Coughlin`s broadcasts took on an increasingly anti-semitic tone and he was accused of supporting fascism. During World War II, his superior Edward Cardinal Mooney ordered him to cease his radio broadcasts and his publication Social Justice was barred from the mails. In 1944, his National Union for Social Justice was dissolved and Coughlin dropped out of sight.
Despite having built and audience of ten million or more regular listeners, Coughlin was never able to translate his reach into political results. He died in obscurity on October 27, 1979. His views were those of a Catholic cleric, but the vast range of Catholic views can be judged by the simultaneous existence of the National Catholic Welfare Conference.
---- Selected Quotes ----
Quotes by Charles E. Coughlin.
Regarding Election of 1936
It is not pleasant for me who coined the phrase "Roosevelt or Ruin" -- a phrase fashioned upon promises -- to voice such passionate words. But I am constrained to admit that "Roosevelt and Ruin" is the order of the day because the money changers have not been driven from the temple.
Radio address on July 1, 1936