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Vital Signs

Worth Repeating

When the U.S. Post Office banned Fr. Charles E. Coughlin’s Social Justice from the mail in April 1942, ending its six-year run, it put the hopes, beliefs, and opinions of nearly half, perhaps more, of Americans into the dustbin of history, along with some useful facts we could use now as we move into the Second Great Depression.

The range and depth of the news topics of this weekly magazine with a million-plus circulation were unusual, for Coughlin’s time and ours.  With large folios of 11" by 17" and usually 20 to 24 pages per issue, Social Justice focused on the New Deal’s failure to solve the crises in banking and agriculture; the infiltration of communists into government agencies at both federal and state levels; their control over the public-education system, both universities and schools; the entangling alliance between England and the United States in the “great game” to control the resources of Asia and the Middle East, and the inevitable world wars it would bring; and the disintegration of public morality and civic virtues, especially through Hollywood movies and mass-circulation women’s magazines.  In terms of news and information, its quality was far superior to Time or Newsweek—which were consistent critics of Coughlin, the famous “Radio Priest” with a weekly audience estimated at 40 million.

Unlike Time and Newsweek,...

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