LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – A local Catholic church is making headlines after its father stated in a video you cannot be both a Democrat and a Catholic. First News at Nine’s Hayley Spitler has more on how the diocese of La Crosse and community is responding.
“To clueless baptized Catholics out there you cannot be a catholic and be a democrat. Period,” said Father James Altman of Saint James the Less Catholic Parish in La Crosse.
In the video which has been viewed nearly half a million times, Father Altman says climate change is a hoax, planned parenthood is the most racist organization on the planet, and calls those on DACA criminal illegal aliens.
His thoughts that Catholics cannot be Democrats has gained mainstream attention and is something some in the La Crosse community don’t agree with.
La Crosse Catholic and Democrat, Vicki Burke said, “It is inconceivable to me that someone would say that a person would be condemned to Hell for practicing things that I think are very much in line with what we should be doing and helping other people.”
In response to the online video, the diocese of La Crosse released a statement saying it denounces Father Altman’s judgmental and angry tone and generalization of entire groups. The bishop says he is addressing the issue privately with Father Altman and that penalties could be enforced if needed.
“Politics has no place in the catholic church. Baloney,” said Father Altman.
This is not the first time that Father Altman has made political statements either. Homilies posted online from earlier this year show him praising President Trump, criticizing the CDC, and commenting on George Floyd’s death.
Father Altman said, “The right to protest ends when it enables criminal anarchists. Every fascist governor and health department tyrant kept your voters on lockdown and threatened churches.”
The Catholic Church is tax-exempt and under its guidelines, prohibited from engaging in political activity.
The diocese has yet to respond to our request for comment on Altman’s political statements.
As for local Democrat Vicki Burke, she says no political party or candidate has 100 percent the values you may believe in and that while she does vote blue, she is also pro-life.
Burke said, “I believe in feeding the hungry, providing care for the sick, giving drinks to the thirsty, providing shelter to the homeless, welcoming the stranger, welcoming the immigrants. I think that’s what being pro-life is about.”
Burke did contact the bishop over the controversial video and is happy with how he is handling the situation.
In La Crosse, Hayley Spitler First News at Nine.
Father James Altman has not returned our several requests for comment.