Christian Front (United States)
The Christian Front was an anti-Semitic political association active in the United States from 1938 to 1940.
The Christian Front was founded in November 1938 in response to the prompting of radio priest Charles Coughlin, who had called for a "crusade against the anti-Christian forces of the Red Revolution" in the May 23, 1938, edition of his newspaper, Social Justice. Its membership numbered several thousand and consisted mostly of Irish-Americans in the New York City area. They sold Social Justice, organized boycotts of Jewish businesses, and held parades and rallies. They made no distinction between "Reds" and Jews. Their rallies welcomed attendees from like-minded organizations like the German American Bund, and Crusaders for Americanism. They heard speakers denounce Jews as international bankers, war mongers, and communists, mock President Roosevelt as Rosenvelt, and praise Franco and Hitler. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen backed the Front. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Brooklyn, Thomas Molloy was a prominent supporter and his diocesan newspaper, the Tablet once addressed the charge that the Christian Front was anti-Semitic: "Well what of it? Just what law was violated?"
The Front also targeted organized labor and tried to replace union officials, deemed too radical or Jewish, with "Christian leadership".
Nazi-sympathizers led by the Christian Front held a mass rally in Madison Square Garden on February 20, 1939. According to James Wechsler, the Christian Front was the critical component in taking Coughlin's message into action. It was, he wrote, "the dynamic core of the movement. It calls the mass meetings, floods the city with leaflets, and rallies the crowds under its own signature.For several months in 1939, Jews were harassed and attacked on the streets of New York City by thugs generally associated with the Front. Violent incidents including beatings and stabbings. New York City police infiltrated the organization and obtained more than a hundred convictions for the assaults.
Look magazine covered the violence in September and October, including photos. In December, after New York radio station WMCA announced it would no longer carry Coughlin's weekly sermons, Christian Front members organized protests at the station, its advertisers, and Jewish-owned businesses every Sunday for weeks.
At the urging of the U.S. attorney for New York, the Justice Department decided to target the Front. On December 28, 1939, U.S. Attorney General Frank Murphy announced that a grand jury in Washington, D.C., would hear evidence of organized anti-Semitism and other activities that might be fomented by foreign agents. He promised to find ways to prosecute those involved, using the tax code and whatever statutes might prove useful. In January 1940, federal agents arrested 17 men, mostly Front members, and charged that they had conspired to "overthrow, put down and destroy by force the Government of the United States" and to do so planned to steal weapons and ammunition. 
J. Edgar Hoover suggested there were collaborators in Boston and Philadelphia. Their cache of weapons included an old saber and an 1873 Springfield rifle. One government official admitted off the record that the Front was really being prosecuted for un-Americanism. The charges did not mention anti-Semitism or Coughlin. The jurors proved sympathetic to the defendants and returned no verdict. The charges were dropped in 1941, at which point the new Attorney General, Robert Jackson, called the charges "a bit fantastic". One historian has called the trial an exercise in "public relations" that exaggerated the danger posed by "a pathetic bunch." Another says that "the trial revealed the Christian Fronters to be a group of unbalanced cranks and successfully discredited the entire movement."
- Leonard Dinnerstein, Antisemitism in America (Oxford University Press, 1994), 120
- Richard W. Steele, Free Speech in the Good War (NY: St. Martin's Press, 1999), 44
- Dinnerstein, 121
- Allan J. Lichtman, White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement (Grove Press, 2008), 97
- Dinnerstein, 121-2
- Joshua Benjamin Freeman, In Transit: The Transport Workers Union in New York City, 1933-1966 (Temple University Press, 2001), 147
- Dinnerstein, 122
- Steele, 43-5
- Steele, 45
- Steele, 43
- Robert A. Rosenbaum, Waking to Danger: Americans and Nazi Germany, 1933-1941 (ABC-CLIO, 2010), 62
- Steele, 45
- Steele, 43
- Steele, 45
- Steele, 45
- Steele, 45-6
- Francis MacDonnell, Insidious Foes: The Axis Fifth Column and the American Home Front (Oxford Universioty Press, 1995), 38
- Ronald H. Bayor, Neighbors in Conflict: The Irish, Germans, Jews, and Italians of New York City, 1929-1941 (University of Illinois Press, 1988)
- Edward C. McCarthy, The Christian Front Movement in New York City, 1938-1940 (1965)