Who is James Altman? Wisconsin priest who called Covid-19 a 'hoax' told to resign, blames 'cancel culture'
He called the Covid-19 vaccines 'an experimental use of a genetic altering substance that modifies your body — your temple of the Holy Spirit'
A Catholic reverend in La Crosse, Wisconsin, stated on Sunday, May 23, that he was asked to step down as leader of his parish by church officials due to his negative comments about the Covid-19 vaccine. The leader of the Diocese of La Crosse, Bishop William Callahan, has asked Altman to resign amid his continued controversial rhetoric over politics and the pandemic
The Rev. James Altman said in a sermon posted to YouTube that "the left" was trying to "cancel" him after the Diocese of La Crosse contacted him Friday, May 21 and asked him to resign. He called himself a victim of the “cancel culture.” “If the left whines, like they do, like a spoiled brat often enough, they succeed in canceling so many voices of truth,” he said. “And now that they are whining like, if I may say it, the pansy babies that they are, to cancel me.” He said he’s engaged a canon lawyer and wants to fight the bishop’s decision, but that this could be his last sermon as pastor. Here's all about the controversial pastor and what transpired.
“I am no expert on canon law, but understand only that while we are contesting the Bishop’s request — and we are — he could in theory appoint a parish administrator whilst I remain a pastor without duties until the appeal goes through Rome, which can take up to a year or more,” Altman said during his sermon on May 23. When he spoke about the call for his resignation from bishop, some members of the congregations could be heard on the video saying “no.”
Who is Rev James Altman?
According to catholictimeslacrosse, Altman, originally from the Diocese of Marquette, was an attorney who had a family practice in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., when he answered the call to the priesthood. Graduating from the University of St. Mary of the Lake’s Mundelein Seminary outside Chicago, Altman was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Jerome E Listecki at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman on June 28, 2008. He moved to Peter and Paul, Wisconsin Rapids, on March 1, 2009. One year later he was appointed the parish’s administrator and installed as pastor by Bishop Callahan on Dec. 19, 2010.
Altman, who currently serves at St James the Less parish on La Crosse’s North Side, had come under fire in the last year for controversial comments he has made, including anti-Black and LGBTQ+ rhetoric, stating that all Democrats are “Godless” hypocrites going to hell, spreading misinformation on vaccines and Covid-19, frequently appearing on far-right media platforms and more.
Altman has been ignoring Covid-19 gathering restrictions at his masses while warning people that vaccines are useless and anyone who imposes virus-related protocols will burn in the "lowest, hottest levels" of hell. The La Crosse Tribune reported on April 25 that it had obtained a photo of Altman presiding over a crowded Easter service at St James the Less Catholic Church. The picture showed at least 50 maskless people crowded into the first five rows of pews. The Diocese of La Crosse's Covid-19 protocols allow only 25% occupancy with social distancing and require parishioners to wear masks.
Altman denounced the Black Lives Matter movement and made other conspiratorial false claims about climate change and systematic racism. Before the presidential election, he said in a video posted on the Youtube page of a right-wing group that “you cannot be Catholic and a Democrat.” As for the pandemic that has killed nearly thousands of people in the country and sickened more than 33 million, Altman called it a “hoax” during Easter weekend services that attracted around 300 to 500 worshippers. The church bulletin approved by him also allegedly has misinformation regarding Covid-19 and baseless claims about the efficacy and safety of the vaccines. In the bulletin he called the vaccines "an experimental use of a genetic altering substance that modifies your body — your temple of the Holy Spirit." The bulletin went on to warn readers that it's "diabolical" for anyone to shame or compel someone into getting a shot and making "you nothing other than a guinea pig."
"If the Injection actually worked, no one who actually took it would have cause for fearing anyone who did not. They would be 'safe' even if you coughed in their face. Therefore, their use of peer pressure to force you into Godless conformity is damnable," the bulletin said. "God is still the best doctor and prayer is still the best medicine," the bulletin said.
The current YouTube video has also pinned a comment which states: "To donate to Father Altman's legal fund please click on a link. The fundraiser has raised $175,120 of the $20,000 goal. The page reads: "Father Altman has shown courage and strength in his commitment to giving us the Truth. In a culture that celebrates deception and sin, Father Altman has been a shining light to tens of thousands of faithful Catholics worldwide. Sadly, as we are all aware, our holy priests are being attacked from within. It is our duty and honor as faithful sheep to help our shepherd to defend himself. If there were only one scripture verse that we could use to describe what Father means to us, it would be this:"No man has greater love than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" John 15:13. All donations will go to pay for his legal defense and related fees. Should Father be disciplined to the point of being "fired," additional funds in excess of the amount needed for legal fees will be used for his personal needs like health insurance. If any monies are left over from these expenditures, Father will gratefully donate them to The St. James Handicap Ramp Fund if he successfully retains his position as Pastor, or will donate to those organizations that support life (such as LifeSiteNews) and defend the Catholic Church (such as Church Militant). We will be posting updates on this site to keep you in the loop. All prayers are humbly accepted. Thank you and God bless for your generosity!""
A Facebook page, named, 'Friends of Father James Altman' which has around 1,600 members, is full of posts and comments expressing anger and anguish over what's been happening with the priest, as well as bogus assertions that there is “no science behind the false religion of covidism” and baseless claims about the supposed dangers of the Covid-19 vaccines. “I cannot picture that podium at St. James the Less Church without Fr. Altman,” one parishioner wrote. “Woe to you Bishop William Callahan and all you other wolves in shepherd’s clothing.” While another one called it “Heartbreaking."
Both Pope Benedict and his successor Pope Francis are vaccinated against Covid-19. "None of Altman's hateful words or dangerous actions speak for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and now Bishop Callahan has thankfully made it clear that Altman does not speak for the Catholic Church, either," Nathan Empsall, head of the Christian watchdog group Faithful America, said in a statement. "We pray for all who have fallen victim to the lies and bullying of false prophets like James Altman, and we encourage all our siblings in Christ to receive a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine as soon as they can," said Empsall, an Episcopalian whose group has also criticized Protestants for things like fanning anti-Islamic hate.