La Crosse priest suggests Covid a hoax, part of a “feardemic”

La Crosse priest Father James Altman described Covid-19 as a “hoax” that was part of a “feardemic” last Sunday at St. James the Less Catholic Church.

Delivering his homily to parishioners during Sunday mass at the northside La Crosse church, Fr. Altman told a story based on a meme he had seen that featured what he described as a “beautiful hardworking Amish family.”

“They asked the Amish why Covid-19 did not affect them; they answered, because we don’t have TV,” Fr. Altman said from the pulpit. “Let that sink in, and realize the hoax that has been pulled on the entire world. Understand, my family, do not live in the dark, do not be like that proverbial ostrich with his head stuck in the sand.”

The La Crosse priest later suggested there were dark forces behind the lockdowns put in place to keep people safe from the pandemic.

“When you see half a million or more marchers for life, showing up in Washington, D.C., marching for life, because 60 million babies have been murdered in their mother’s womb, right here in this country, you juxtapose that to the shutdown, and lockdown of so many churches in this country, and the brutal economic destruction in this country, all out of that feardemic, whereas it turns out the CDC now must confess and admit that only 9,210 people have died as a direct result of covid alone,” Fr. Altman said. 

He added, “Dear family understand…who is in control of all of this and it is not the co-conspirators of Jesus the lord, but rather the co-conspirators of Lucifer the dark angel.”

Altman’s suggestion that the CDC had recently reduced the covid death toll to less than 10,000 is based on a misunderstanding. The claim comes from recent social media posts, some of which were retweeted by President Trump, that falsely claimed the CDC had decreased the number of covid deaths to 9,210. As of Thursday, the number of covid deaths in the U.S. was over 190,000, according to the CDC.

An August report from the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the CDC, had found that in 6% of the deaths, Covid-19 was the only cause mentioned on death certificates. But covid was the underlying cause of death in almost all the remaining cases.

This means that a person could be admitted to hospital because of covid and then develop respiratory failure, for example, as their condition worsened. Respiratory failure could then be listed, in addition to covid, on the person’s death certificate (click here for a more detailed explanation).

Altman gained national notoriety this week after a video he recorded for a right wing outlet, in which he said that anyone who is a Democrat cannot be a Catholic, went viral. In the same video, he also called climate change a hoax, praised Trump, and said DACA means “criminal illegal aliens.”

The video earned Altman a slap on the wrist from La Crosse Diocese Bishop William Callahan, who said in a statement that Altman’s “generalization and condemnation of entire groups of people is completely inappropriate and not in keeping with our values or the life of virtue.”

The bishop also appears to have decided that it might be best if Altman has less opportunity to receive public attention in the future. Altman’s services at St. James the Less have been live-streamed on YouTube for some time; but he said during Thursday’s mass that was likely to end, on the bishop’s orders.

“The bishop does not want live streaming of the masses,” Altman said at mass Thursday. “This might be the very last live stream of the holy sacrifices of mass that I can give. That is unfortunate but the manner and tone of the people opposing us is just that vile and despicable and so it causes everyone to cave, and indeed it appears to be the case here. I don’t think I’ll be live streaming after today.”

Top image: Fr. James Altman.YouTube screenshot. Email questions or story ideas to

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