Chick tract

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Chick Tracts
The cover of This Was Your Life!, a Chick tract that was translated into over a hundred languages and is described by Chick Publications as its most popular title.
Parent companyChick Publications
FoundedJanuary 1, 1960; 64 years ago (1960-01-01)
FounderJack Chick
Country of originUSA
Headquarters locationOntario, California
Nonfiction topicsevangelical gospel tracts
Official websitewww.chick.com

Chick tracts are short evangelical gospel tracts in a comic book format, originally created by American cartoonist Jack Chick in the 1960s. His company Chick Publications has continued to print Chick's work, as well as tracts in a similar style by other writers.

Although many of Chick's tracts express views that are generally accepted within mainstream Protestant theology, several tracts have expressed controversial viewpoints. Most notably, Chick tracts express strong anti-Catholic views, as well as criticisms of other faiths, including Judaism, Islam, and Mormonism.[citation needed]

Chick Publications[edit]

Chick Publications produces and markets the Chick tracts, along with other comic books, books, and posters.[1] Chick Publications has its headquarters in Rancho Cucamonga, California,[2] and a mailing address in Ontario, California.

As of January 2015, Chick Publications had produced over 250 different titles, about 100 of which are still in print, and are available in over 100 languages.[3]

Format[edit]

The tracts themselves are approximately 3 by 5 inches (8 by 13 cm), and approximately twenty pages in length.[4] The material is written in comic book format, with the front panel featuring the title of the tract and the inside back panel devoted to a standard sinner's prayer. The back cover of the tract contains a blank space for churches distributing the tracts to stamp their name and address; Chick Publications is willing to print custom back covers, but at least 10,000 tracts must be ordered.

Themes[edit]

Chick tracts end with a suggested prayer for the reader to pray to accept Jesus Christ. In the tracts dealing with "false religions", the prayer includes a clause to reject these religions. Included with the prayer are directions for converting to Christianity, which is also repeated on the inside back panel along with steps to take should the reader convert to Christianity.[5][6]

In Strips, Toons, and Bluesies: Essays in Comics and Culture, Douglas Bevan Dowd and Todd Hignite compare the format of Chick tracts to that of Tijuana bibles, and surmise that Chick was familiar with that medium and wrote with a similar audience of lower-class youth in mind.[7]

Some tracts, like Let's Fly Away[8] and The Throw Away Kid,[9] portray the subject of child abuse. The earliest on the subject is Somebody Loves Me, which focused on a young boy being bludgeoned to death by a drunken guardian after not getting enough to pay on the rent.[10]

Other tracts portray themes of the apocalypse, particularly the Futurist interpretation of the Bible. Some of the tracts that explicitly describe this belief in detail include Almost Time[11], The Beast[12], Camel’s in the Tent[13], Global Warming[14], The Great Escape[15], The Last Generation[16], Love the Jewish People[17], The Only Hope[18], Somebody Angry?[19], Then What?[20], Things to Come?[21], Where Did They Go?[22], Where’s Your Name?[23], Who is He?[24], and Why Should I?[25]. In the tract The Great Escape[26], for example, the land of Magog from Ezekiel is claimed to describe current day Russia, Gomer is claimed to be Germany, and the figure Gog of Magog is described as the political leader of Russia, although it isn't specified which. In another tract, The Last Generation[27], a future which fits the Futurist belief of the pre-apocalypse is described. Here, Christianity is punishable by death, and the children's schoolteachers are witches whose teachings include witchcraft and reincarnation.

Controversies[edit]

The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated Chick Publications as a hate group due to the anti-Catholic, anti-Muslim, and homophobic rhetoric found in Chick tracts.[28][29]

The Hindu American Foundation has stated that "Chick Publications promotes hatred not just against Hindus, but also towards Muslims, Catholics, and others".[30]

Churches have been criticized for distributing Chick tracts. In October 2011, the Northview Baptist Church in Hillsboro, Ohio, gave out copies of the Chick tract Mean Momma[31] along with candy at Halloween.[32] The church received complaints from parishioners, and its pastor apologized for issuing the tracts, saying that, "Our church does not endorse this type of extreme methodology that was represented in this particular tract, and we can assure you that we will not let this happen again ... our church is a loving church that loves souls and wants to do all we can in our community to help as well as spread and share the Gospel message of Christ."[33]

Avon and Somerset Police investigated the distribution of Chick publications in Bristol, England, in July 2020 as hate speech due to the tracts' homophobic and anti-Semitic messaging.[34]

Anti-Catholicism[edit]

Catholicism is a frequent target of Chick tracts. No fewer than 20 of the tracts are devoted to Catholicism, including Are Roman Catholics Christians?[35] (arguing that they are not), The Death Cookie[36] (a polemic against the Catholic Eucharist), and Why Is Mary Crying?[37] (arguing that Mary does not support the veneration Catholicism gives her).[38] One notable tract, Mary's Kids, focuses on an elderly Catholic member who disapproved of her son marrying a Pentecostal woman and then teaching their young daughter about the Virgin Mary. The mother convinces the elder that Mary was not a perpetual virgin after confronting her about the fact that her Catholic priests were sex offenders.[39]

Several Chick tracts have featured the ideas of anti-Catholic conspiracy theorist Alberto Rivera,[40][41][42] such as claims that the Catholic Church created Islam, Communism, Nazism, and Freemasonry.[43] For example, in the tract Love The Jewish People, one line reads: "In 1933, Catholic Germany, serving under the Vatican, launched a 20th century inquisition, murdering 6 million Jews."[44] In The New Anti-Catholicism, religious historian Philip Jenkins describes Chick tracts as promulgating "bizarre allegations of Catholic conspiracy and sexual hypocrisy" to perpetuate "anti-papal and anti-Catholic mythologies".[45] Michael Ian Borer, a sociology professor at Furman University, described Chick's strong anti-Catholic themes in a 2007 American Sociological Association presentation[46] and in a peer-reviewed article the next year in Religion and American Culture.[47]

American Catholic apologetic group Catholic Answers has published a critique of Chick's anti-Catholicism entitled The Nightmare World of Jack T. Chick.[48]

Anti-Islam[edit]

Islam is also regularly targeted by Chick tracts, and more than ten tracts have been published on the subject. The most notable of these is Allah Had No Son, first published in 1994.[49] In this tract, a Muslim is converted to Christianity when he is told that Allah is a pagan moon god. The tract Camels in the Tent claims that Muslim immigration will lead to the establishment of Sharia law in the United States and the forceful conversion of non-Muslims to Islam.[50]

Chick tracts' depiction of Islam has been frequently criticized. In December 2008, a Singaporean couple was charged with sedition for distributing the Chick tracts The Little Bride[51] and Who Is Allah?.[52] The tracts were said to "promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between Christians and Muslims in Singapore".[53][54] The Chick Publications website has consequently been blocked in Singapore.[55]

In 2014, the Chick tract Unforgiven[56] was distributed by Bible Baptist Church in Garden City, Roanoke, Virginia, drawing outrage from the area's Muslim community. Hussain Al-Shiblawi, a local man interviewed by WDBJ-TV, explained that while the pamphlets he received from the church every Sunday were usually inspirational, this tract upset him: "It basically indicated that the people are violent, the religion itself is violent, and the facts in here are not true." Bible Baptist Church said that they did not write the tract and simply distributed it.[57]

Anti-homosexuality[edit]

Chick tracts are unequivocal and explicit in their opposition to homosexuality, and repeatedly employ two anti-homosexual themes: the belief that God hates homosexuality and considers it to be sinful, and the idea that the true nature of homosexuality is revealed in the Christian interpretation of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Book of Genesis.

Chick's first tract on the subject, The Gay Blade, was originally published in 1972.[58] This tract asserted the existence of the gay agenda and urged homosexuals to repent. The Gay Blade was revised in 1984, and is now out-of-print except by special order. According to Cynthia Burack, this tract borrowed several of its frames from a 1971 Life photo essay on the gay liberation movement, but with the images altered to make the gay men look more dissolute or stereotypically feminized.[59]

Later tracts on homosexuality depict gay rights activists as aggressive and prone to violence. In Doom Town, Chick claims that HIV-positive gay men plan to donate blood illegally to protest a lack of federal funding for HIV/AIDS research.[60] In Sin City, gay rights activists attack a pastor protesting a gay pride parade, beating him so badly that he is subsequently hospitalized.[61] Other tracts, such as Home Alone, have promoted the gay recruitment conspiracy theory and alleged that gay and lesbian individuals are more promiscuous than heterosexual ones.[62]

Chick's claims about homosexuality have angered gay activists. In 1974, members of the Gay People's Liberation Alliance and the Women's Coalition protested the distribution of Chick tracts at Iowa State University, claiming that they provided an inaccurate representation of gay and bisexual people.[63]

Anti-evolution[edit]

Chick published several anti-evolution tracts, but Big Daddy? (which also attempts to refute the existence of the strong nuclear force)[64] remains "the most widely distributed anti-evolution booklet in history".[65] Critics have pointed out that Big Daddy? mainly uses Young Earth creationist Kent Hovind as a reference for its claims, despite his lack of scientific credentials.[66][67][68][69]

Big Daddy? is presented in the 2007 book Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters as "typical" of the "misleading and dishonest" rhetoric of creationists.[70]

Views on Satanism and Satanic influence[edit]

Gladys is an example of one of Chick's tracts on astrology, witchcraft, and Satanism.[71] The Poor Little Witch depicts child sacrifice and the ritual drinking of the child's blood by Satanists.[72] Catholic Answers stated that "Chick portrays a world full of paranoia and conspiracy where nothing is what it seems and nearly everything is a Satanic plot to lead people to hell."[48]

Parodies and popular culture[edit]

In film[edit]

  • Dark Dungeons, a film adaptation of a Chick tract of the same name depicting Dungeons & Dragons as a front for Satanism, was released in August 2014. Producer JR Ralls was given the rights to the tract for free after contacting Chick.[73]

In print[edit]

Some cartoonists have published parodies that mimic Chick tracts' layout and narrative conventions. Examples include:

  • Devil Doll? by Daniel Clowes, Antlers of the Damned[74] by Adam Thrasher, Jesus Delivers! by Jim Woodring and David Lasky, and Demonic Deviltry by "Dr. Robert Ramos" (actually Justin Achilli of White Wolf Game Studios).
  • Issue #2 of Daniel K. Raeburn's zine The Imp, which consists of a lengthy essay on Jack T. Chick's work and a concordance of terms and concepts used in his comics, has dimensions and covers that imitate a Chick tract.
  • Two parodies by "Jack C. Trick, LLC" and published by Trick Publications, entitled Chemical Salvation? (2006)[75] and ADAM & EVIL?! (2007),[76] tell the histories of LSD and MDMA respectively.
  • A parody drawn by cartoonist Hal Robins, The Collector was included in chapter 13 of The Art of Jack T. Chick by Kurt Kuersteiner (2004, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.).
  • The first edition of the Rick and Morty Season 1 Blu-ray came with a print version of The Good Morty, a parody of Chick's work which appears in the episode "Close Encounters of the Rick Kind". The comic was written by series co-creator Justin Roiland and Ryan Ridley, and illustrated by Erica Hayes.[77]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Chapman, Roger (2010) Culture Wars: an Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices, Volume 1 M E Sharpe, p. 84
  2. ^ "Chick Publications, Inc Company Profile". Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  3. ^ "ChickComics.com: The Jack T. Chick Museum of Fine Art". The Chick Tract Collector's Club; Not affiliated with Jack T Chick, LLC. 2015. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  4. ^ Bivins 2008, p. 41.
  5. ^ "The Nightmare World of Jack T. Chick | Catholic Answers". Catholic.com. Archived from the original on January 8, 2014. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  6. ^ "page23". Chick.com. Archived from the original on November 5, 2023. Retrieved November 5, 2023.
  7. ^ Dowd, Douglas Bevan; Hignite, Todd (2006). Strips, Toons, and Bluesies. Princeton Architectural Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-56898-621-0.
  8. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Let's Fly Away (2013).
  9. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). The Throw Away Kid (2014).
  10. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Somebody Loves Me (1972).
  11. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Almost Time (2017).
  12. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). The Beast (1966).
  13. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Camel’s in the Ten (2012).
  14. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Global Warming (2012).
  15. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). The Great Escape (2024).
  16. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). The Last Generation (1972).
  17. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Love the Jewish People (1998).
  18. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). The Only Hope (1985).
  19. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Somebody Angry? (2008).
  20. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Then What? (2024).
  21. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Things to Come? (2010).
  22. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Where Did They Go? (2007).
  23. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Where’s Your Name? (2015).
  24. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Who is He? (2008).
  25. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Why Should I? (2012).
  26. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). The Great Escape (2024).
  27. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). The Last Generation (1972).
  28. ^ "Active General Hate Groups". Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on July 23, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  29. ^ "Pastor Apologizes For Hate-filled Halloween Hand-out". splcenter.org. Archived from the original on May 8, 2015. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  30. ^ "Hyperlink to Hinduphobia: Online Hatred, Extremism and Bigotry Against Hindus" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 21, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  31. ^ "Mean Momma, Chick Publications". Chick.com. Archived from the original on May 5, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  32. ^ Mean Momma tells the story of Petunia Parker, hated by the town for her prior actions and her delinquent raising of her three sons; she scornfully rejects the church and refuses to fear God, only to have all three children die. The tract shows a gruesome detail of one child hanging himself, while a caption quotes that "the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away" while showing a tornado hitting her house, killing her only remaining child (the first died in a car crash while attempting to elude law enforcement).
  33. ^ "Pastor apologizes for pamphlet handed out to trick-or-treaters". November 4, 2011. Archived from the original on November 4, 2011. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  34. ^ "'Disgusting' booklets posted through Bristol doors". BBC News. July 24, 2020. Retrieved July 25, 2021.
  35. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Are Roman Catholics Christians? (1985). Retrieved on 2006-12-07.
  36. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). The Death Cookie (1988). Retrieved on 2006-07-16.
  37. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Why is Mary Crying? (1987). Retrieved on 2006-12-07.
  38. ^ Akin, Jimmy (2008). The Nightmare World of Jack T. Chick. San Diego: Catholic Answers.
  39. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Mary's Kids (2014).
  40. ^ Hunter, Sidney (1988). Is Alberto for Real?. Chick Publications. ISBN 978-0-937958-29-2. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
  41. ^ "The compelling testimony of Alberto Rivera, a former Jesuit priest". Chick.com. Archived from the original on May 15, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  42. ^ "Comic List". Chick.com. Archived from the original on December 1, 2013. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  43. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Mama's Girls (2012). Retrieved on 2013-02-16.
  44. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). Love the Jewish People (1998).
  45. ^ Jenkins, Philip (2004). The New Anti-Catholicism. City: Oxford University Press, USA. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-19-517604-9.
  46. ^ Borer, Michael Ian. "Drawing Religious Battle Lines: The 'Culture Wars Work' of Jack Chick's Anti-Catholic Cartoons (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, New York, New York City, August 11, 2007)". Archived from the original on December 20, 2017.
  47. ^ Borer, Michael Ian; Murphree, Adam (Winter 2008). "Framing Catholicism: Jack Chick's Anti-Catholic Cartoons and the Flexible Boundaries of the Culture Wars". Religion and American Culture. 18 (1): 95–112. doi:10.1525/rac.2008.18.1.95. S2CID 145414303.
  48. ^ a b "The Nightmare World of Jack T. Chick". Archived from the original on September 4, 2011. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  49. ^ "Allah Had No Son". Chick.com. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  50. ^ "Chick.com: Camel's In The Tent". chick.com. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  51. ^ "English "The Little Bride"". Chick.com. Archived from the original on July 23, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  52. ^ "Chick.com: Who is Allah?". chick.com. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  53. ^ Chong, Elena (December 4, 2008). "Couple on sedition trial". Straits Times. Archived from the original on March 23, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2009.
  54. ^ Chong, Elena (December 6, 2008). "No ill will intended". Straits Times. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved June 24, 2009.
  55. ^ Tim (June 3, 2008). "Homophobic Evangelical Comics, Now Available in Singapore!". Trevvy. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011.
  56. ^ "Unforgiven". Chick Publications. 2007. Archived from the original on December 13, 2016. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  57. ^ "Archived copy". www.wdbj7.com. Archived from the original on April 5, 2016. Retrieved September 1, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  58. ^ "The Gay Blade". Chick.com. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  59. ^ Burack, Cynthia (2008). Sin, Sex, and Democracy. Albany: State University of New York Press. pp. 33–66. ISBN 978-0-7914-7405-1.
  60. ^ "Chick.com: Doom Town". chick.com. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  61. ^ "Chick.com: Sin City". chick.com. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  62. ^ "Chick.com: Home Alone?". chick.com. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  63. ^ Brumm, Dennis. "ISU Daily: Gays Protest Pamphlet". www.brumm.com. Archived from the original on November 22, 2007. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  64. ^ "Big Daddy?". Chick.com. Archived from the original on November 23, 2013. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  65. ^ Moore, Randy; Decker, Mark D. (2008). More than Darwin: an Encyclopedia of the People and Places of the Evolution-Creationism Controversy. Greenwood Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-313-34155-7.
  66. ^ Vickers, Brett (1998). "Some Questionable Creationist Credentials". Archived from the original on February 19, 2009. Retrieved June 24, 2009.
  67. ^ Bartelt, Foley, Ph.D. (2001). "The Dissertation Kent Hovind Doesn't Want You to Read". Archived from the original on July 18, 2007. Retrieved June 24, 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  68. ^ Foley, Jim (August 31, 2001). "Fossil Hominids: Big Daddy?". talkorigins.org. Archived from the original on March 27, 2009. Retrieved June 24, 2009.
  69. ^ Fowler, Robert B. (2001). The World of Jack T. Chick. Last Gasp. pp. 2–10. ISBN 0-86719-512-6.
  70. ^ Prothero & Buell 2007, pp. 334–335.
  71. ^ "Gladys". Chick.com. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  72. ^ Jack T. Chick (w). The Poor Little Witch (1987).
  73. ^ Edidin, Rachel. "A Fearmongering Anti-RPG Comic Gets the Film Adaptation It Deserves | Underwire". WIRED. Archived from the original on May 20, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  74. ^ Thrasher, Adam. "Antlers Of The Damned". The Jack T. Chick Parody Archive. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  75. ^ "Chemical Salvation?" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on September 26, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  76. ^ "ADAM & EVIL?! for Web" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on May 10, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  77. ^ "SDCC – 'Rick and Morty' Creators and Cast Tease a 'More Intergalactic' Season 2". comicbookresources.com. August 15, 2014. Archived from the original on June 30, 2016. Retrieved May 16, 2017.

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Fowler, Robert (2001). The World of Chick?. San Francisco: Last Gasp. ISBN 0-86719-512-6.
  • Kuersteiner, Kurt (2004). The Art of Jack Chick. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-7643-1892-6.
  • Doner, Colonel V. (May 23, 2012). Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Samizdat Creative.

External links[edit]