Freedom From Religion Foundation calls on diocese to rein in controversial La Crosse priest

Fr. James Altman You Cannot Be Catholic & A Democrat. Period. Frame 1944

MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) — The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is calling on the Diocese of La Crosse to “rein in” the Rev. James Altman, whose statements on COVID-19 vaccines are causing controversy.

“It’s clear the Diocese of La Crosse needs to rein in this priest, or else the hierarchy is aiding and abetting a reckless zealot,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. She calls Altman’s verbiage, such as “godless vermin,” particularly reprehensible.

The statement is in response to a video of Altman, who is a priest at St. James the Less Catholic Church on Caledonia Street, condemning COVID-19 protocols as “godless.”

In a video from Palm Sunday, Altman is seen complaining about “the godless madness” of pandemic mitigation efforts: “You’ve all heard the horror stories, all because godless vermin fed us fear and instituted godless, Nazi-esque controls on all of us and on those we love,” Altman said.

Altman’s church has also created a flyer telling people not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The flyer is posted to the church’s website and is headlined: “Do not be anyone’s guinea pig.” It concludes: “God is still the best doctor and prayer is still the best medicine.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation previously criticized Altman’s statements last fall in which he said people could not be both Catholic and Democrat. FFRF filed a complaint about this activity with the I-R-S, because non-profits like churches are prohibited from directly or indirectly making statements or participating in political campaigns.

The Diocese of La Crosse says it is working privately on issues with Altman, reported the Associated Press Monday.