Check out the fifth episode of The Critical Catholic on Where Peter Is Media, with Mike Lewis and D.W. Lafferty. We stream live every Sunday on YouTube at 8 p.m. EST.

In this episode, we start by discussing a troubling message that Mike received after his older sister passed away—one that highlights the real-life consequences of vaccine-related conspiracism.

We then turn our attention to the new online Catholic folk hero, Father James Altman of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Fr. Altman became well-known last year thanks to a viral video in which he claimed that one cannot be both Catholic and a Democrat. Since then, his rhetoric has become more and more extreme and focused on conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19 and vaccines. We seek to answer the following questions:

  • Why is Fr. Altman so popular? What cultural forces have helped him rise to Internet fame?
  • What populist techniques does Fr. Altman use to appeal to his audience?
  • How can we disentangle what is true in what he is saying from the exaggerations and slurs and misrepresentations?

Listen to our discussion here…


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D.W. Lafferty, PhD, is a Catholic husband, dad, and independent scholar from Ontario, Canada. He works in higher education and has published articles on the literature of Wyndham Lewis, the conspiracy theory of Douglas Reed, and the life and legacy of Engelbert Dollfuss. Online, he tweets as @rightscholar.

Scientific Denialism and the Impact of Father Altman
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