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JesuiticalJanuary 07, 2022
Father Charles Coughlin, c. 1938 (Wikimedia)

A charismatic demagogue with millions of devoted followers. A novel means of communication with little government regulation and few guardrails. The threat of violence in the streets and a country in crisis.

No, we’re not talking about the 45th president but America’s first radio priest, Father Charles Coughlin. On “Radioactive,” a new podcast series from Tablet Studios, Andrew Lapin takes listeners through the history of Father Coughlin, who through a mixture of Catholic piety, anti-Semitism and raw political ambition became the most popular voice on the U.S. airwaves during the Great Depression and the lead up to World War II.

[Related: Before Rush Limbaugh, Father Coughlin was America’s first demagogue of the airwaves]

We ask Andrew what Father Coughlin’s story can tell us about the connection between religious demagoguery and authoritarianism; the Wild West of new media platforms; and the failure of the church to rein in Catholics who exploit these toxic forces.

In Signs of the Times, Zac and Ashley share some Pope Francis-inspired New Year’s resolutions and give their predictions for Catholic stories coming in 2022.

Links from the show:

What’s on tap?

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