Ghost Church by Jamie Loftus

iHeartPodcasts and Cool Zone Media

In this limited series, Jamie Loftus investigates and interrogates American spiritualism, a century-old tradition of communing with the dead that takes place in camps full of mediums across the country. Who is drawn to these camps, how did the religion come together, and why are the tarot card readers and the seance-havers fighting? Ghost Church is a look at grief, religion, and loneliness, with on-site reporting and interviews with everyone from spiritualist psychics to Protestant pastors to a very lonely carnival employee.

  • 51 minutes 4 seconds
    9: Waiting for the Spirit in the Cape

    In the final episode of Ghost Church (for now), Jamie befriends a Cassadaga medium, reads a manifesto, and looks backwards and ahead to where American spiritualism goes from here. Thank you for listening, and abolish the Supreme Court bitch.

    Find Uncle Dennis Here:

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    27 June 2022, 4:01 am
  • 1 hour 4 minutes
    8: The Boys Are Fighting (Over Crotch Goo and Ghosts): Arthur Conan Doyle vs. Harry Houdini

    This week, Jamie takes a look at the second wave of spiritualism in the United States through American Spiritualism's most famous schism -- believer Arthur Conan Doyle versus skeptic Harry Houdini over the mediumship (and yes, ectoplasm) of Mina Crandon. Featuring Paul F. Tompkins as Doyle and Robert Evans as Houdini. I know, right?

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    20 June 2022, 4:01 am
  • 1 hour 2 minutes
    7: The Fool's Golden Rule (Espiritismo and Spiritual Churches)

    This week, Jamie goes to a ghost museum, high fives a Jigsaw doll, and takes a look at two religious movements that pulled from American Spiritualism, took what they needed, and left the rest. Dr. Carlos Camacho stops by for a chat about espiritismo, and still no talk of ectoplasm.

    Dr. Margarita Simon Guillory on "The Religious Studies Project":

    More information on Dr. Camacho here:

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    13 June 2022, 4:01 am
  • 50 minutes 4 seconds
    6: The Legend of Seneca the Spirit Guide (or: Colonizer, Please)

    This week, Jamie heads to the only spiritualist library in the American south -- open two hours a week -- to try and trace the legend of Cassadaga's founding to its root, as land taken from indigenous Americans. Writer Olivia Woodward stops by to discuss spiritual traditions of the Caddo Nation, thoughts on spiritualism's appropriation of Native culture, and questions George Colby's spirit guide.

    Follow Olivia's work here:

    More on the Seneca Nation:

    More on the Mascogo:

    More on the Timucua:

    More on the Miccosukee: 

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    6 June 2022, 4:01 am
  • 59 minutes 57 seconds
    5: Apples, The Manipulator, and The Curse of Spiritualism

    This week, Jamie visits a legendary Cassadaga medium and traces the story of spiritualism's Fox sisters to its end -- where the sisters abandoned the religion that had defined their lives.

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    30 May 2022, 4:01 am
  • 51 minutes 23 seconds
    4: Four Roads to Cassadaga

    This week, Jamie passes the mic to four women of Cassadaga to tell their stories about how they came to American spiritualism -- from being raised by NASA scientists to a tragic loss.

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    16 May 2022, 4:01 am
  • 1 hour 6 minutes
    3: The Tables Are Tipping

    This week, Jamie goes to a table tipping class — a Spiritualist tradition that uses tables to connect people with their dead. Elsewhere in the past, the Fox sisters go on tour, where the skeptics put increasing pressure on the teenagers to meet their hype.


    Further Reading:

    Talking to the Dead, Barbara Weisberg

    Calling the Spirits: A History of Seances by Lisa Morton

    The Road to Seneca Falls by Judith Wellman

    Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi

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    9 May 2022, 4:01 am
  • 1 hour 2 minutes
    2: No Proof is Necessary, No Proof is Sufficient

    This week, Jamie returns to Cassadaga for a Gala Day with one Reverend Doctor and one Reverend Doctor / Former Dojo Owner, then attends her first spiritualist church service, complete with a message from the spirit after hymns. Back in 1848, spiritualist's founding Fox sisters become stars overnight, immediately stoking skepticism and smothering press attention.

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    2 May 2022, 4:01 am
  • 49 minutes 24 seconds
    1: Not a Cult

    American Spiritualism is a frequently invoked, rarely understood religion that hinges on speaking with spirit through mediums. In our first episode, Jamie Loftus puts your little baby brain at rest -- it's not a cult. But what is it?

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    25 April 2022, 4:01 am
  • 3 minutes 5 seconds
    Introducing: Ghost Church by Jamie Loftus

    Jamie Loftus investigates American spiritualism, a tradition of communing with the dead that takes place in camps full of mediums across the country.

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    15 April 2022, 8:33 pm
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