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Chick Publications

From Academic Kids

Chick Publications is a publishing company run by Jack Chick which produces and markets religious pamphlets, DVDs, VCDs, videos, books, a poster, and (most famously) comic tracts in many languages. The publications promote and seek to win converts to a Protestant fundamentalist view. While some express views that are generally accepted within Christian theology, e.g.[1] (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0039/0039_01.asp), Chick is most famous for his publications on issues that are highly controversial even within Christianity. The comics mostly address certain practices, such as Occultism, Freemasonry [2] (http://www.chick.com/information/religions/masonry), Catholicism [3] (http://www.chick.com/information/religions/catholicism), Islam [4] (http://www.chick.com/information/religions/islam), abortion, and homosexuality, which most fundamentalist American Protestant Christians believe are sinful — together with more mundane activities such as role-playing games and popular music. Roman Catholics (especially Jesuits) are used to explain the existence of most religions, and to provide an explanation of modern history. Defenders of the comics assert all his comics carry the same message — that of salvation through Jesus.

Contents

Overview

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The most popular tract from Chick Publications is just one of hundreds of Christian tracts they have published

The graphics in Chick's tracts are often simple, but striking. Some Christians consider them to be valuable witnessing tools, due to the striking nature of the cartoons and their clear-cut messages. Indeed, many cartoon tracts appear to be designed to appeal mainly to children. Their superficially unsophisticated graphic style, their kitsch nature, scare tactics, and dogmatic messages also make them popular with non-fundamentalists, who find them amusing; the tracts were popularized among this audience through High Weirdness by Mail, a publication of the satiric Church of the SubGenius.

Chick Publications also publishes conventional non-graphical books on these same topics, by authors other than Chick. Many of these are also used as sources for Chick's tracts; notable sources include Alberto Rivera, Rebecca Brown, Jeff Godwin, Kent Hovind, Charles Chiniquy, William Schnoebelen, John Todd, Avro Manhattan, and Alexander Hislop.

The incongruity of using a comic-book format to present a religious message, along with the deliberately shocking approach of Chick's tracts, has caused some who first encounter Chick via his website to take it for deliberate satire similar to that of the Landover Baptist Church. However, Chick's tracts long predate the World Wide Web. While many readers consider the views expressed in his tracts extreme, they are held by many fundamentalist Christians, and are mild compared to those expressed by, for example, Fred Phelps. Its role in selling books by other fundamentalist Christian authors is ample evidence that Chick Publications is serious about promoting its version of Christianity.

While Chick's tracts are handed out directly (for instance, he encourages Christians to give out anti-Halloween tracts along with Halloween candy[5] (http://www.chick.com/seasonal/halloween/default.asp?FROM=Tracttips)), they are often distributed by leaving them in places where they will be found and read, an appealing witnessing tool for shy Christians[6] (http://www.chick.com/bc/1996/witnessingideas.asp). This strategy is intended to reach those who are hostile to evangelists and unlikely to accept an offered tract, by appealing instead to their curiosity. [7] (http://www.chick.com/bc/1996/witnessingideas.asp). Chick Publication's website claims that many people have been converted by encountering Chick Publication's comic tracts[8] (http://www.chick.com/articles/testimonies/).

The company's web site [9] (http://www.chick.com/catalog/tractlist.asp) lists more than 150 comic tracts; all of them can be viewed online, but other materials can generally only be sampled. The site states that several hundred million tracts have been distributed world wide, with some of them translated into almost 100 languages.

Copies of Chick's tracts are displayed in the Smithsonian Institution as a part of American culture.

Claims by Chick Publications

Chick's tracts and other publications make many controversial claims. Some are typical of conservative Protestant beliefs — for instance, Chick claims that evolution is a fraud [10] (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0055/0055_01.asp), homosexuality is sinful [11] (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/5003/5003_01.asp), and abortion is murder [12] (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/1009/1009_01.asp). Others are controversial even within conservative Protestantism.

In particular, Chick's tracts make frequent reference to a vast Satanic conspiracy controlling many of the world's organisations and institutions. Religions other than fundamentalist Protestantism are generally presented as instruments of Satanism; Chick claims that the King James Version of the Bible is the only recorded word of God, and all other editions are corrupt[13] (http://www.chick.com/information/bibleversions). Christian ecumenism is rejected as a ploy to corrupt true Christianity by encouraging acceptance of corrupted beliefs.

For more specific claims, see Claims by Chick Publications.

Catholicism

A recurring theme in Chick's tracts is the role of the Roman Catholic Church, which he presents as one of the most powerful and insidious branches of this conspiracy. According to Chick the Catholic Church is the 'Great Whore' referred to in the Book of Revelations, and will bring about a Satanic New World Order [14] (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0094/0094_01.asp)[15] (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0030/0030_01.asp) before it is destroyed by Jesus Christ.

Drawing on the claims of Alberto Rivera, Chick claims that the Catholic Church created Islam as a tool to lure people away from Christianity [16] (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0062/0062_01.asp), that it infiltrates and attempts to destroy or corrupt all other religions and churches [17] (http://www.chick.com/reading/comics/0112/0112_fourpages.asp?PG=17), and that it uses various means including seduction, framing, and murder to silence its critics [18] (http://www.chick.com/reading/comics/0112/0112_fourpages.asp?pg=21). He accuses Catholicism of supporting ideologies such as Nazism and Communism, and using the Holocaust to persecute opponents of the Catholic Church [19] (http://www.chick.com/bc/1989/holocaustorinquisition.asp?FROM=Catholicpage)[20] (http://www.chick.com/reading/books/153/153_06.asp).

Occultism

Various forms of occultism are also presented as part of the Satanic conspiracy. Most forms of fantasy and presentations of magic — including Harry Potter [21] (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/5012/5012_01.asp), Dungeons and Dragons [22] (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.asp), and Halloween celebrations [23] (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0011/0011_01.asp) — are portrayed as an attempt to draw children into witchcraft.

Criticisms of Chick Publications

Some people consider the claims made by Chick's publications – and especially the cartoon tracts – to be offensive and even absurd. All of these claims are found in other Christian publications, but the tracts' blunt language and wide distribution make them particularly prominent as targets for criticism.

His critics also accuse Chick of misrepresentation — for instance, Chick's tract Big Daddy (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0055/0055_01.asp) accuses evolutionary scientists of circular reasoning in dating geological strata by the fossils they contain, with nothing in the tract to inform its readers that the usual technique is in fact radiometric dating. (This technique is mentioned elsewhere on Chick's site[24] (http://www.chick.com/bc/1987/evolution.asp), but not in that tract.)

Some critics have observed that Chick's comics present Jesus as a superhero in an alternative universe in which sins are punished in Biblical style.

Chick's claims about Catholic, Masonic, Satanic, etc., conspiracies are based in large part on the testimony of people who claim to have been members of these groups before converting to Evangelical Christianity, most prominently Rivera and Schnoebelen. Many of Chick's critics consider these sources to be frauds or fantasists, yet many Christian supporters acknowledge these claims as legitimate. Further discussion of these controversies may be found in the articles on Alberto Rivera, William Schnoebelen, and John Todd.

Many Christians, including many mainstream Protestants and evangelicals, consider Chick Publications' views to be misrepresentations or distortions of general Christian or evangelical views, and as such find them offensive and embarrassing. Among other issues, many Protestants reject Chick's King James Only stance and hence do not support those of Chick's assertions that rely on the King James Version being the only 'true Bible'.

Response to criticisms of Chick Publications

Many fundamentalist Protestants, both past [25] (http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/gesu.htm) and present, agree with at least some of Chick Publications's more controversial claims [26] (http://www.chick.com/information/general/statementoffaith.asp). Some reject Chick's Roman Catholic conspiracy theories but accept other claims promoted in his tracts (e.g. 'turn or burn'), and so offer qualified agreement with Chick's beliefs. Some anti-cult organizations view Chick's website and publications as a valuable source of material on groups they see as cults[27] (http://www.missionresources.com/cult.html).

Jack Chick claims that cartoons are a more effective medium for witnessing than conventional text based tracts. Some of the characteristics often seen as failings of his tracts - for instance, their simplistic messages - can also be viewed as strengths, making them more appealing to readers who are unsympathetic to more conventional forms of evangelicism. There seems to be an interest in reading Chick Publications's cartoon tracts among those who would never hold his views, making them an effective medium for transmitting the Gospel. Chick Publications are used by apologetics ministries [28] (http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/) and for witnessing.

Chick's more controversial claims are usually accompanied by supporting references to the Bible, other books (often also published by Chick), and historical facts; debate commonly focuses on the reliability of these sources and of Chick's representation of them.

Some Christians have suggested that several of his theories have been substantiated by United Nations world policies and current political and social climates in this new millennium. This is motivated by their religious right views and adherence to dispensationalism, leading them to view the UN as part of a conspiracy leading to one-world government under an anti-Christ, based on a literal interpretation of Revelation 13.

Some Christians see Jack Chick as persecuted, and claim (drawing on Biblical passages) that persecution is a sign of legitimacy. Chick claims that many threats have been made on his life because of the revealing nature of his writings.

Notable tracts

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"Dark Dungeons" depicts Dungeons and Dragons as a path to other occult activities
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In one parody, the coven scene becomes one where people are playing a Live action role-playing game

One of Chick's most famous and most-satirized tracts is "Dark Dungeons" [29] (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.asp), which depicts a group of teenagers playing Dungeons & Dragons. When one player's character dies, the other player tells her: "Marcie, get out of here! YOU'RE DEAD! You don't exist anymore." The game master then tells the surviving player that she will teach her how to cast real spells. The reader then sees a hidden underworld of dark sorcerers; Debbie starts casting real spells. This is followed by Marcie commiting suicide because her character died. The game master tells Debbie that the game and her character are more important than real life. An evangelical, who looks like a 1950s wholesome athletic high school student, comforts Debbie, telling her that Jesus is more important than everything else. After going to a church meeting, Debbie eagerly converts and burns her books.

There are many parodies of the "Dark Dungeons" tract. In one [30] (http://www.rpglibrary.org/inspiration/darkdungeons/page3.html), characters from MST3K respond to the tract. In others, the artwork is largely unchanged, but all of the dialog is replaced. In [31] (http://web.archive.org/web/20010612235613/www.hackernetwork.com/reviews/dnd/1.jpg), for example, the story is changed to one where (with one notable exception) the RPG players are well-balanced individuals suffering from little more than "munchkin syndrome", the attractive Christian boy becomes a jock trying to seduce the girl, and the preacher becomes a strangely conservatively dressed Gamemaster at Gen Con trying to play Dungeons and Dragons with an unresponsive audience.

There are even foreign languages parodies of "Dark Dungeons". In fact, while Jack Chick has never translated "Dark Dungeons" into another language [32] (http://www.chick.com/catalog/languageavailability.asp?Dec=46), people making foreign language parodies of "Dark Dungeons" have translated the comic [33] (http://www.baatezu.com/dd.asp) so they could then parody it [34] (http://www.websrevueltos.com/dork.htm).

Person sent to hell in 'This Was Your Life'
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Person sent to hell in 'This Was Your Life'

Another famous tract is "This Was Your Life" [35] (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0001/0001_01.asp), a tract about a man who dies and is judged by God. The man had lived a good life, but claimed that he didn't need Christ. On Judgment Day, the man watches his life being revealed before Jesus Christ. The man is shown scenes of himself leering at women, telling dirty jokes, not listening to the pastor's message and committing other sins. God then sends the man to Hell in dramatic style. There exists a parody of this tract called Dead To Rights, which uses much of the same art, but inserts Chick himself as the role of the condemned man who has to respond to the Almighty for his actions. The tract takes an opposite position on Chick's own works, and focuses on the idea that it is actions and beliefs, not blind obedience to dogma, that count in the cosmic balance.

The King of Kings tells major Bible stories in comic form while The Big Betrayal is the biography of another ex-Catholic priest named Charles Chiniquy who claimed that the Vatican was behind the American Civil War and Lincoln's assassination. The Big Betrayal is the comic version of Charles Chiniquy's autobiography 50 Years In The Church of Rome.

See also

External links

Chick Publications

Negative

Positive

Parody

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