The evil of Jack Chick
Their Origin and Refutation
The Nightmare World of Jack T. Chick
You’ve seen them.
Perhaps left in a phone booth, Laundromat, or other public place. Maybe a Fundamentalist coworker or a street evangelist gave one to you. Perhaps a child gave one to your child at school. They have titles such as Are Roman Catholics Christian?, The Death Cookie, and Why Is Mary Crying? They are Chick tracts—tiny cartoon booklets produced by Jack T. Chick ("J.T.C.") and his publishing house, Chick Publications.
You’ve seen them . . . but have you read one? Do so, and you step into the nightmarish world of Jack T. Chick.
In this world, few things are as they appear. It is a world of shadow and intrigue, a world of paranoia and conspiracy theories, a world where demons haunt people sincerely trying to follow God, and the Catholic faith is the devil’s greatest plot against mankind.
Here are just a few things you will "learn" if you start reading Chick tracts and comic books:
The Catholic Church keeps "the name of every Protestant church member in the world" in a "big computer" in the Vatican for use in future persecutions.
But the conspiracy is much broader than this, and it has been going on for a very long time. In the sixth century, for instance, Catholic leaders manipulated the Arabian tribesman Mohammed into creating the religion of Islam to use as a weapon against the Jews and to conquer Jerusalem for the pope.
The Jesuits instigated the American Civil War, supporting the Confederate cause and seeking to undermine the Union. When they failed, they arranged the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Later, they formed the Ku Klux Klan.
"Jesuits worked closely with Marx, Engels, Trotsky, Lenin, and Stalin" to create Communism, and it was "believed that soon . . . Communism would rise up as the new strong daughter of the Vatican." It was Rome that instigated the Bolshevik Revolution and the murder of the czar’s family. The Communist "liberation theology" movement also is a Vatican plot.
The Nazi Holocaust of the 1940s was a Vatican-controlled attempt to exterminate Jews and heretics. Further, "Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco were backed by the Vatican for the purpose of setting up a one-world government to usher in the ‘Millennial Kingdom’ under Pope Pius XII."
The Vatican conspiracy is so extensive that, through the Jesuits, Rome controls the Illuminati, the Council on Foreign Relations, international bankers, the Mafia, the Club of Rome, the Masons, and the New Age movement.
The Jesuits created the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Unity, Christian Science, and other religious groups.
"Pope John Paul II has been a good Communist for many years" and engineered a phony assassination attempt against himself in 1981 to shame Islam into warming relations with the Vatican, since the would-be killer was a Muslim.
Tracts are only one of the ways Chick spreads his messages of hate and paranoia. His website (www.chick.com) lists large-size comic books, posters, booklets, books, videos, and DVDs for sale. Still, it is the tracts for which he is most famous. According to Chick Publications, more than 500 million of them have been distributed.
With shocking, sensationalist allegations such as these being distributed to hundreds of millions of people, you may be wondering . . .
Their Origin and Refutation
Who Is Jack T. Chick?
Jack Thomas Chick is a recluse. Little is known about him. He does not give interviews. Only two out-of-date pictures of him are publicly known (one is a high school yearbook photo). Rumors about him abound, making it difficult to sort fact from fiction concerning his life. He was born April 13, 1924, in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, and he was not always a Fundamentalist. According to the biography posted on his web site:
While in high school, none of the Christians would have anything to do with him because of his bad language. They all agreed not to witness to him, convinced that he was the last guy on earth who would ever accept Jesus Christ.
After graduation from high school, Jack won a scholarship to the Pasadena Playhouse to study acting, but his studies were interrupted by the military. He spent the next three years in the Army, which took him to foreign countries like New Guinea, Australia, the Philippines and Japan.
After being discharged from the service, Jack returned to the Playhouse, where he met and married his wife, Lynn, who was instrumental in his salvation. While visiting Lynn’s parents in Canada on their honeymoon, Jack’s mother-in-law insisted that he sit and listen to Charles E. Fuller’s Old Fashioned Revival Hour radio program. Jack recalls, "God was already working on my heart, but when Fuller said the words, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow,’ I fell on my knees and my life was changed forever."
The scene of falling on one’s knees to accept Jesus is one repeated over and over again by characters in Chick tracts. But how did Jack Chick make the leap from being an ordinary Fundamentalist to the foremost Christian comic publisher in the world? For a time, he worked as a technical illustrator for an aerospace company in California, but he longed to be work for God:
He wanted to be a missionary himself, but his new wife wanted no part of missionary life. Her aunt had been a missionary in Africa. While pregnant, she was being carried across a river on a stretcher, when one of those carrying her lost a leg to an alligator.
Eventually, Jack started combining his work as an illustrator with his passion for evangelization, producing his first published religious works, Why No Revival? and A Demon’s Nightmare. He became convinced of the effectiveness of this technique after using it with a group of prisoners:
[Chick] was invited to present the gospel to a group of inmates at a prison near his home. He drew several pieces of cartoon art and prepared a flip chart to illustrate what he was saying. At the conclusion of his message, nine of the eleven inmates present trusted Christ as their Saviour. Jack became convinced that God had given him a method of reaching people with the gospel that worked. That art was later put into booklet form and became the tract This Was Your Life!
Following this episode, Chick Publications became a full-time venture for Jack, and, in the more than forty years since it was started, his tracts, comic books, and other publications have reached hundreds of millions of people, spreading their message of simple Fundamentalist theology fused with elaborate conspiracy theories.
In time, the art in the tracts received an upgrade—not because Chick changed his own style of drawing but because he hired an artist with much better skills. Yet he did not announce this fact and did not put the new artist’s name on the works he produced. Instead, they continued to carry the credit "by Jack T. Chick" or simply "by J.T.C." The difference between the two drawing styles was so dramatic that it was immediately noticed by readers, and rumors circulated about who the "good artist" might be. It would be some time before Chick disclosed that the man’s name was Fred Carter.
In 1972, he hired Fred Carter, an African-American painter and illustrator from Danville, Illinois, who had studied at Chicago’s American Academy of Art. Carter’s realistic illustrations and distinctive inking style made him a perfect fit for the [Crusaders comic book] series’ action sequences and exotic locales. Witch burnings and ritual murders are captured in gleefully visceral detail, while the books’ sexual overtones—as well as scantily clad biblical sirens like Eve, Delilah, and Semiramis—have led critics to describe Carter’s work as "spiritual porn."
At once, the artwork improved tenfold. Chick, however, kept Carter’s name off all of the comics. Rumors and speculation about the identity of the so-called good artist at Chick Publications began to spread. For years fans theorized that Carter’s work was produced by a team of illustrators or an unknown Filipino man dubbed "Artist J." Chick finally revealed Carter’s identity in 1980, claiming that the artist is "rather shy and declines to put his name on his art."
Jack Chick’s art in The Hit
Fred Carter’s art in The Deceived
Through the years Chick also became associated with others who had an impact on his publications. The conspiracy angle in his works jumped significantly through his involvement with two men in particular.
One was John Todd, an evangelist who claimed to have been raised in a "witchcraft family" and supposedly was part of a gigantic conspiracy of witches called "the Illuminati." According to Todd, numerous political and religious figures were part of the conspiracy. He claimed that as a "Grand Druid High Priest" he was given a thirteen-state territory and that "over 90 percent of politicians in that thirteen-state area received financial support from him and took orders regarding political decisions from him." The religious figures allegedly part of the witch conspiracy included Jim Bakker, Billy Graham, Walter Martin, Oral Roberts, and Pat Robertson. Also involved were C. S. Lewis, Pat and Debbie Boone, and a number of Protestant denominations, "from Assemblies of God to the Southern Baptists."
One way the Illuminati spread their occult tendrils through society was through rock music. Songs in this genre often "contained coded spells or incantations that the listener wasn’t aware of." Based on Todd’s claims, Chick issued a number of publications, including the large-format comic book Spellbound? (against rock music) and the tract Dark Dungeons (against fantasy role-playing games).
Todd was exposed as a fraud in publications such as Christianity Today and Cornerstone. He later was convicted and sent to prison for rape. Nevertheless, Chick is still publishing materials repeating his claims and thanking him openly for providing the information.
The other major figure hyping Jack Chick’s conspiracy theories was the late Alberto Rivera, and he is important enough to Chick mythology to deserve his own section.
Their Origin and Refutation
Who Was Alberto Rivera?
Aside from Jack Chick’s own name, the name most familiar to readers of Chick comics is that of Alberto Rivera (1935–1997). He is mentioned in numerous tracts and serves as the central character in six issues of Chick’s The Crusaders full-size comic book. Chick even devotes space to him in the handful of books the house publishes.
Alberto Magno Romero Rivera was born in 1937 in the Canary Islands. He claimed to have been a priest who served as an undercover operative of the Jesuit order to infiltrate and destroy Protestant churches and institutions. He maintained that he was so successful that he secretly was made a bishop. Yet he turned his life over to Christ and became a Fundamentalist evangelist. He claimed to have rescued his sister—a nun—after she nearly died in a convent in London.
In the 1970s he met Jack Chick, who publicized his story with much fanfare. It added immense amounts of detail (and implausibility) to Chick’s global Catholic conspiracy theory. The Alberto series included some of the wildest claims found in Chick’s publications—that the Vatican started Islam, Communism, the Masons, and the Klan; that it controls the Illuminati, the Mafia, and the New Age movement; that it created the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, and is databasing the name of every Protestant church member for a future inquisition.
Alberto Rivera and His Comic Book Namesake
The Alberto series started a controversy that resulted in Chick being unable to sell the comic books in many Protestant bookstores. Following a complaint from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the Christian Booksellers Association began considering whether to expel Chick. Soon afterward, Chick withdrew from the CBA.
The protest against the Chick Alberto series was waged by both Catholics and Evangelicals. Many Catholics, naturally, protested the lurid and inaccurate depiction of their faith, and many Protestant bookstore owners who saw their point removed the series from their stores.
In response, Chick published My Name? . . . In the Vatican? in which he repeated many of Rivera’s sensationalistic claims and gave grudging acknowledgement to the ability of Catholics to get his works taken out of Evangelical bookstores.
While it is natural to expect Catholics to be upset over Chick and Rivera’s outrageous claims, many Evangelicals were upset as well, and they began to investigate Rivera. Prominent Protestant publications, including Christianity Today, Cornerstone, and even Forward—a publication of Walter Martin’s Christian Research Institute—did investigations leading to exposés of Rivera as a fraud.
From My Name? . . . In the Vatican?
Christianity Today’s story by researcher Gary Metz revealed that:
He is being sued in a Los Angeles court at the present time  by a man who said that Rivera, on behalf of the Hispanic Baptist Church, which he started, borrowed $2,025 with which to invest in property, but never purchased the land. When the man asked for his money back, he received a receipt acknowledging his "contribution" of $2,025.
The Christianity Today investigation further reported:
In October 1967, Rivera went to work at the Church of God of Prophecy headquarters in Tennessee and began collecting money for a college in Tarrassa, Spain. When the Church of God of Prophecy wrote the college to ask if Rivera was authorized to receive donations for the college, it received a reply stating the college had given him a letter to collect funds only during the month of July. The college later discovered that while "he claimed to be a Catholic priest . . . he had never been one." The college reported that he left debts he had acquired in the name of the parish of San Lorenzo and that Spanish police were seeking him for "authentic swindles and cheats." Finally, they said that no funds had ever reached the college from Rivera. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, Charles Hawkins of the Church of God of Prophecy said Rivera’s bank had contacted them because he had written a check on a closed account.
In 1969 two arrest warrants were issued for him in Florida. One was for the theft of a BankAmericard: The criminal division of the Bank of America reports that he charged over two thousand dollars on the credit card. The second warrant was issued for unauthorized use of an automobile. Rivera abandoned the vehicle in Seattle and went from there to southern California, where he started a number of organizations.
Concerning Rivera’s alleged liberation of his sister from a convent, Christianity Today reported:
The sequel [to the Alberto comic], Double-Cross, devotes its first nine pages to a description of how Alberto flew to London and contacted an Anabaptist church, whose people helped him rescue his dying sister Maria from her convent. Actually, the person he contacted was not an Anabaptist but Delmar Spurling of the Church of God of Prophecy. Spurling said in an interview that Rivera did not rescue his sister, because she wasn’t a nun but rather a maid working in a private London home.
Concerning Rivera’s claim that he had been a priest, Christianity Today noted:
The Catholic Church denies Rivera’s most important claim, that he was a priest. To substantiate the claim, the Alberto comic book carries a picture of an official-looking document from the Archbishopric of Madrid-Alcala in Spain, dated September 1967. It identifies Rivera as a priest and gives him permission to travel abroad in his ministry. There is no other church documentation, such as an ordination certificate, shown in the book. An individual in California, who grew suspicious of Rivera in 1973, wrote to the archdiocese office in Madrid-Alcala to ask if Rivera were really a priest. The response was that no diocese in Spain had any record of Rivera as a priest. The archbishop’s office concluded that he was not a priest, and that the travel document, which was little more than a form letter, was "acquired by deceit and subterfuge" to enable Rivera to get a passport.
Christianity Today further discovered that "that not only was Rivera not a Jesuit priest, but also that he had two children during the time he claimed to be living a celibate life as a Jesuit." It explained:
Although Rivera claims to have been raised and trained in a Spanish Jesuit seminary, his hometown friend, Bonilla, said Rivera was living at one point with a woman in Costa Rica named Carmen Lydia Torres. (Alberto says Rivera was sent to Costa Rica to destroy a [Protestant] seminary and that a woman named Carmen was with him, posing as his girlfriend. The seminary was not named.)
Rivera later stated on an employment form that he and Torres were married in 1963. Their son, Juan, was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1964, while Rivera was forking for the Christian Reformed Church there. Juan died in El Paso in July 1965, after his parents had fled New Jersey leaving numerous debts and a warrant for their arrest on bad check charges. The couple had two other children, Alberto and Luis Marx. The first two children were born during the time Alberto claimed to be a Jesuit priest in Spain.
Concerning Rivera’s claim to have been made a bishop, Metz reported in Cornerstone that:
Alberto now claims that he was once a Jesuit bishop. None of his former associates remember this being part of his testimony until early 1973. Former associate Rev. Wishart (once a pastor of the First Baptist Church of San Fernando), who questioned Alberto about this, reported that Alberto admitted that he had never been ordained a bishop but used the title for prestige. He continues to call himself the bishop of his own church, the Hispanic Baptist Church (Oxnard, California).
In Alberto, Rivera claimed that his conversion to Protestantism happened while he was being detained in a sanitarium following a public break with the Church. Yet Christianity Today’s piece noted that:
His later accounts of his conversion are contradictory. While speaking at the Faith Baptist Church in Canoga Park, California, Rivera pinpointed his conversion as March 20, 1967, after three months in the sanitarium, and he said he immediately defected from the Catholic Church. Five months later, however, he gave a newspaper interview in his home town of Las Palmas [in the Canary Islands], in which he was still promoting Catholicism. He said in the interview that he was doing ecumenical work for the Catholic Church in Tarrassa, Spain, during the previous six months, from February to August 1967. According to Alberto, he was in the sanitarium at the time.
Rivera, who now  lives in California, was asked for an interview to discuss the discrepancies in his tale, but he posed so many restrictions before he would agree that a legitimate interview was not possible. He did say that any wrongdoings prior to his conversion to Christ in 1967 were done under the orders of the Catholic Church and that any wrongdoings since his conversions are fabrications by conspirators.
Of course, if Rivera had been a secret Jesuit agent bent on conspiratorial acts, such deception and subterfuge might well have been part of his mission. Yet his fantastic tale lacks credibility. The numerous legal entanglements suggest that he was a simple con man. There are the contradictory accounts of his conversion, his admission that he was married, and the fact that he was the father of two children during his alleged time as a Jesuit priest. And then there is what was uncovered by the Christian Research Institute in its investigation of Alberto:
Bartholomew F. Brewer, a former Catholic priest who is now director of Mission to Catholics International in San Diego [a man long known to Catholic Answers supporters for his anti-Catholic activities and an authentic ex-priest] . . . related to us that several years ago Rivera wanted to work in conjunction with Mission to Catholics. Dr. Brewer did interview Rivera and decided not to use him in his ministry. Over a period of time, however, Dr. Brewer got to know Rivera better and he eventually concluded that Rivera was not only unfamiliar with Catholic theology, by obviously had never been a Catholic priest, let alone a bishop.
In examining the two Chick comics, one finds that statements are made that would seem to substantiate Dr. Brewer’s views. Rivera is apparently unfamiliar with Catholic doctrine, church history, and other factual information.
For example, in Alberto, Rivera seems to imply that celibacy is a sacrament. Also, he states that students studying for the priesthood were not allowed to read the Bible. He also claims that, in Catholic doctrine, Mary is co-equal with God the Father. These are all misrepresentations of the truth.
Rivera further calls his reliability into question by stating that the masterminds behind the Inquisition were Jesuits. This is an impossibility, since the Inquisition began around a.d. 1200, and the Jesuits were not established until the 1540s.
CRI also discovered Rivera inaccurately quoting sources:
Rivera’s believability becomes still more questionable in Double-Cross, when he claims that [suicide cult leader] Jim Jones was secretly a Jesuit deacon and an agent for the Vatican. He says that the Jonestown massacre was part of the Roman Catholic Church’s "diabolical conspiracy." For support of this contention, he refers to Dr. Peter Beter’s Audio Letter #40, November 1978 (Beter is a self-proclaimed "conspiracy" expert). But, on listening to the tape, one discovers that Dr. Beter believes that Jones was a manipulated dupe of the CIA! Thus, the authority Rivera cites for supportive evidence is opposed to his view.
Rivera’s response to this investigation was to call CRI "a ‘tool’ of the Jesuits and its director [Walter Martin, at the time] an ‘agent’ of Rome." He subsequently claimed that Martin "was working with the Vatican and stated that his name was on a secret Jesuit list." CRI further reported:
After our initial research gave us reason to question the comic’s reliability, we attempted to contact both Alberto Rivera and Chick Publications’ founder Jack Chick. With no success in contacting Rivera by mail, two certified letters were sent to Chick Publications. In them, we conveyed our concern over some apparent discrepancies in Rivera’s story and asked for answers. When no reply was made to our letters, follow-up phone calls revealed that Jack Chick would make no reply whatsoever. He said that he was not answerable to any man and that the comic books could stand on their own.
Alberto Rivera went on to found the "Antichrist Information Center" or AIC (which later explained its initials as meaning "Assurance in Christ"). He died in 1997 of colon cancer, and his ministry was carried on by his widow, Nuzy Rivera.
The impact of Alberto Rivera on Jack Chick’s universe is difficult to underestimate. It was Rivera that provided Chick with his most sensationalistic, most anti-Catholic claims and allowed Chick’s conspiracy theories to grow increasingly complex and bizarre.
Their Origin and Refutation
Jack T. Chick’s Gallery of Anti-Catholic Tracts
It’s hard to judge a book—or a comic book—by its cover. You can tell that some of Chick’s tracts are clearly aimed at Catholicism just by looking at them. Others you have to read before you discover the anti-Catholicism buried within them. Here is a brief guide to Chick’s anti-Catholic tracts and what they contain.
Are Roman Catholics Christian?
Unlike most Chick tracts, this one is not primarily a story. It is an essay intended to prove that Catholics are not Christian. To show this, it tries to walk through the life of a typical Catholic woman—"Helen"—from the time of her baptism to the time of her death. At each stage, Chick takes swipes at Catholic doctrine and practice.
Themes: Anathema, Anointing of the Sick, Baptism, Clergy & Religious, Confession, Divided Loyalties, Eucharist, Inquisition, Mary, Other Christs, Paganism/Idolatry, Pope, Purgatory, Whore of Babylon
Chick’s defense of the King James Version of the Bible. According to this tract, the devil and the Catholic Church vigorously opposed the KJV and even murdered some of its translators. In its place they have sought to provide modern translations based on corrupt manuscripts for their own evil ends. All modern translations except the KJV are evil and the product of a Catholic conspiracy. A key objective of the conspiracy is to insert "the Apocrypha" (i.e., the deuterocanonical books of Scripture) into the Bible.
Themes: Anathema, Bible Corruption, Inquisition/Death to Non-Catholics
A look at the end times, á la Jack Chick. In the near future the Rapture will occur. Afterward, the pope will be revealed to be the Antichrist and will compel all to take the number 666 on their foreheads or right hands. The world will become a gigantic, occult "witches’ coven," in which true Christians are persecuted. The battle of Armageddon will be fought, leading to a 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth. Then, God will condemn the wicked—including those who remained faithful Catholics—to hell and reward Protestant Fundamentalists with heaven.
Themes: Antichrist, Inquisition/Death to Non-Catholics, Millennium, Rapture
The Death Cookie
Jack Chick’s most prominent attack on the Eucharist. He tells the story of an unkempt man who wishes to control others. This man is counseled by a sinister (satanic-looking) advisor who encourages him to invent the doctrine of the Eucharist. Based on this advice, the man is soon controlling those around him as the Catholic pope.
Themes: Eucharist, Clerics & Religious, Inquisition/Death to Non-Catholics, Other Christs, Paganism/Idolatry, Whore of Babylon
Two Muslims start reading a Chick tract and are horrified to discover that Islam is a fraud. Worse, they discover that the pope manipulated Mohammed into starting Islam to conquer Jerusalem for him. Even Mohammed’s wife Khadijah was a Vatican operative on a secret mission to set up her new husband!
Themes: Conspiracy, Mary, Paganism/Idolatry
A Latin American young man named Juan joins a Communist revolutionary movement, only to discover that the movement is tied in with liberation theology. This, Chick informs us, is a Vatican plot. Among other things, it allows Latin American Protestants to be killed as heretics and enemies of the state.
Themes: Conspiracy, Communism, Inquisition/Death to Non-Catholics, Repulsive Catholics
Here He Comes!
The priest who becomes a Fundamentalist is having nightmares about being left behind when the Rapture happens. A Fundamentalist tells him that he won’t be, but goes on to him about the horrors to come, including the revelation of the pope and "the Jesuit general" as the false prophet and the beast.
Themes: Antichrist, Millennium, Pope, Rapture
After a tense confrontation between a Jewish concentration camp survivor and a group of American Nazis, a Fundamentalist kindly explains that the German Holocaust was actually a Vatican plot to kill Jews. In fact, "the Gestapo was run by the Jesuits" and "Hitler was a faithful Roman Catholic simply following the laws set forth in the Council of Trent." Worse, the Vatican plans a new inquisition in America to force Catholicism on the United States.
Themes: Anathema, Conspiracy, Inquisition/Death to Non-Catholics, Nazism, Pope, Repulsive Catholics, Whore of Babylon
Is There Another Christ?
An essay tract in which Chick attacks the pope as the vicar of Christ, the role of the priest as an alter Christus, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Each of these, Chick claims, is an infringement on the person and work of the true Christ.
Themes: Clerics & Religious, Eucharist, Other Christs, Pope, Tradition, Whore of Babylon
Kiss the Protestants Good-bye
An essay tract in which Chick details the Vatican conspiracy to wipe out Protestantism—and his own role in fighting it! Chick claims that Catholics have subverted Protestant Bibles, including the Scofield Reference Bible, which Chick himself learned from. The goal has been to first rid Protestantism of its anti-Catholicism and then impose Catholicism. Chick has worked to thwart this plot, the tract explains, by publishing the Alberto series of comic books, which infuriate the Vatican.
Themes: Bible Corruption, Conspiracy, Inquisition/Death to Non-Catholics, Rapture, Repulsive Catholics
The Last Generation?
In the near future, a global totalitarian state is proclaimed, with the pope as its head. The announcement is made by a Jesuit at the United Nations. True Christian believers are driven underground and betrayed to the sinister superstate at every turn, even by evil "Hitler Youth"-type children.
Themes: Antichrist, Inquisition/Death to Non-Catholics, Mary, Rapture
This tract tells the story of an unpleasant Catholic man named Henry who gets killed in a car crash. He receives the last rites, but after dying he is taken before God, who condemns him to hell for trusting in Catholic "works" to save him instead of Jesus Christ.
Themes: Anointing of the Sick, Assurance of Salvation, Baptism, Confession, Eucharist, Paganism/Idolatry, Purgatory, Repulsive Catholics, Whore of Babylon
Man in Black
A drunk, suicidal Catholic priest attempts to kill himself but is stopped by a passing Fundamentalist. After the suicide attempt the two discuss Catholic doctrine over coffee. The Fundamentalist convinces the priest that Catholicism is a revived form of paganism, and the priest gives his life to Christ.
Themes: Bible Corruption, Clerics & Religious, Conspiracy, Eucharist, Inquisition/Death to Non-Catholics, Mary, Paganism/Idolatry, Pope, Repulsive Catholics, Whore of Babylon
An obnoxious Catholic policeman—"Murph"—is mortally wounded in the line of duty. His ex-Catholic partner tells him that he must trust Jesus instead of the Church before he dies. When Murph’s priest comes up short on answers, the dying cop does so and goes to heaven.
Themes: Assurance of Salvation, Purgatory, Repulsive Catholics, Tradition
My Name? . . . In the Vatican?
Chick explains—based on information from Alberto Rivera—that the Vatican keeps the name of every Protestant church member in a "big computer." The purpose is to make future persecutions easier. Chick laments the resistance he’s met in getting his Alberto comic books carried and cites the effectiveness of Catholics in getting these comics pulled from Protestant bookstores.
Themes: Conspiracy, Inquisition/Death to Non-Catholics, Repulsive Catholics
The Only Hope
A more-explicit-than-usual look at the future Chick envisions. It expressly tells us: "The last pope will be the antichrist, or the Beast. Satan will enter his body, and he will be worshipped worldwide." In the course of re-treading events from the book of Revelation, it also tells us that "ten nations hate the ‘whore’ of Rev. 17 and destroy the Vatican by fire" while "the pope (Antichrist) escapes to Jerusalem."
Themes: Antichrist, Millennium, Rapture, Whore of Babylon
The Poor Pope?
Claims that "the pope controls more wealth than any other man on this planet" and gives a fanciful history of how this came about, with numerous unsourced allegations of wrongdoing on the part of the Vatican in a relentless drive to gain wealth. (For example, when the California Gold Rush started in the 1800s, the Vatican sent "liquor, gambling tables, and Roman Catholic prostitutes to take back the gold from the miners.") The tract declares that "the average person would go into shock if he knew the extent of the Vatican’s wealth and political power."
Themes: Conspiracy, Inquisition/Death to Non-Catholics, Paganism/Idolatry, Pope, Purgatory, Vatican riches, Whore of Babylon
The Story Teller
A Muslim returns home after many years abroad and tells his village the story of what he learned. During his travels he met Alberto Rivera and was informed not only that Catholicism is a false religion but that it created Islam as part of a Vatican plot. More recently, the Vatican staged an apparition at Fatima (named after Mohammed’s daughter) to cozy up to Muslims. It also staged the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II using a Muslim as the marksman "to guilt-induce the Muslim world, bringing them still closer to the Catholic faith!"
Themes: Conspiracy, Mary, Paganism/Idolatry
A Fundamentalist and the ex-priest from Man in Black try to scare the priest’s sister into accepting Fundamentalism by telling her that the pope is the Antichrist, that we are living in the end times, and that if she wants to escape the great tribulation she must become a Fundamentalist in order to be raptured and to escape to heaven.
Themes: Antichrist, Millennium, Pope, Rapture
Why Is Mary Crying?
Chick’s attack on Marian doctrine and practice. He tells us that these devotions deeply sadden the real Mary and make her cry. In this tract the Virgin Mary herself declares that she is a sinner and implores Catholics not to believe Catholic doctrine concerning her. She says that Catholic teaching and practice regarding her is an outgrowth of Babylonian paganism and that Catholics must repent and follow what God teaches in the Bible.
Themes: Mary, Paganism/Idolatry, Whore of Babylon
Their Origin and Refutation
Answering Chick Tracts
It’s tempting to laugh off Jack Chick’s tracts and comic books. Their lurid tales and paranoid conspiracy theories make them hard to take seriously. But millions of people take them very seriously. That is why Chick has been able to distribute more than half a billion of his tracts. What is worse, many are aimed directly at Catholics, attempting to convert them to Fundamentalism. His most anti-Catholic tracts tend to conclude with a final panel like this one, urging Catholics to repudiate their faith:
With many Catholics weak in their faith today, there are a lot of people who are vulnerable to appeals such as this, especially when they have just been told untruths that they don’t know how to refute. Even Catholics who are strong in their faith can have a difficult time knowing how to answer specific anti-Catholic charges, because Chick makes so many and such bizarre ones.
This is part of the problem: With the sheer volume of errors, half-truths, and misrepresentations that Chick makes about the Church, there is simply no way to refute them all. Often even a single panel from one of his tracts contains multiple mistakes. Doing a thorough refutation of everything Chick says would require several book-length works.
The procedure this report recommends is to use critical thinking skills whenever one looks at a Chick tract—whether one is a Catholic seeking to answer the tract or a non-Catholic seeking to evaluate what it has to say. To that end, keep several principles of critical thinking in mind:
- Use common sense.
- Identify, evaluate, and check sources.
- Check for misrepresentations.
- Consult authentic sources.
- Note admissions of lack of evidence. If something seems to violate common sense, it probably does. Think about it: Is it really plausible that the Vatican is operating a multi-century conspiracy during which it created Islam and Communism, started the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, arranged the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the assassination attempt of John Paul II? That it keeps the name of all Protestant church members in a database so that they can be hunted down, interrogated, and if need be tortured or killed in a future persecution? That the Vatican created or runs the Masons, the Klan, the Mafia, the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the host of other organizations and religious groups that Chick says it does?
This is all a gross violation of common sense, and that ought to tell you that something is wrong with the picture Chick is painting. So if you encounter something in Chick’s works that is incredible, outrageous, or unbelievable—go with your instincts and assume that it’s false unless it can be backed up with solid evidence. This leads directly to the next point.
Chick tracts make many assertions but cite few sources—and fewer reliable ones—yet he needs to provide solid sources in order to give evidence for the preposterous claims he makes. Therefore, when reading a Chick tract, you should evaluate the sources he is using. Ask yourself: Does he even provide a source to document this claim? Often he does not. If there is one, ask: Is this a reliable source? Some of his main sources are notoriously unreliable, including Alberto Rivera, John Todd, and Alexander Hislop (discussed below). Finally, check the source. It may not say what Chick would lead you to think it does. For example, above we saw an instance in which CRI found Alberto Rivera erroneously claiming that a source said something it didn’t say.
Very often when Chick cites a source (including the Bible), he misrepresents what it says. Sometimes this is because he doesn’t understand how a word is being used. (We will see later that he is greatly mistaken about what the word anathema means.) Other times he will cite Bible verses that are on the general topic he wants but that don’t really say what he wants. In other words, they are not relevant to the claim he is making. So ask yourself: Is this passage really relevant? Does it say what he wants it to say? What else could it mean?
Don’t let matters stop at what Chick and his sources say. Consult other sources—the best ones that you can find. If Chick says that a doctrine is taught by the Catholic Church, look it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and find out. If you don’t know where to check out a claim he makes, call Catholic Answers.
Sometimes when Chick doesn’t have evidence for what he wants to claim he will try to conceal the fact by saying "this was all covered up" or that someone "secretly" was a Catholic. When this happens, take note of it and recognize it for what it is: an admission that he can’t back up the claim with evidence.
- Think through the implications.
- Look for double standards.
- Watch for prejudicial presentations. As part of using common sense to evaluate Chick’s claims, think through the implications of what he says. Ask yourself: What else would have to happen for this to be true? For example, take the claim that the Vatican has a database of "every Protestant church member in the world." How would the Vatican get such a list? Many countries (the U.S. among them) do not require people to register their religious affiliation. In these countries, most Protestant churches don’t publicize their membership rolls. The Vatican would have to spies everywhere, gathering evidence about the members of every one-room, backwoods country church in the world. This violates common sense.
Chick often will portray a particular belief or practice as an abomination when it is done by Catholics, even though the same thing occurs in Protestant circles. For example, he points to the Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, belief in baptismal regeneration, and the practice of infant baptism as key points in his argument that Catholics are not Christian. Yet each of these is paralleled among Protestants. Lutherans and many Anglicans believe in the Real Presence. The same also believe in baptismal regeneration. And infant baptism is practiced by the majority of Protestants in the world, including not only Lutherans and Anglicans but also Presbyterians, Dutch Reformed, Methodists, and others. Only the Baptist and Pentecostal traditions (and those movements stemming from them) oppose the practice.
A key technique that Chick uses is to make Catholics, their beliefs, and their practices "look" or "sound" bad by presenting them in a prejudicial light. This happens when he takes something innocent and uses language that makes it sound sinister. Or when he shows Catholics as angry, ugly, and foul-mouthed. Or when he uses exaggerated, hysterical language. Or when he tries to play upon one’s emotions by drawing demons lurking about. Be aware that this kind of subterfuge is a major part of what Chick does and be on the lookout for it. When you see it, ask yourself: How could this same thing be presented in a balanced, non-prejudicial manner?
These principles of critical thinking will go a long way toward helping you answer and evaluate Chick tracts. They will let you see through a large number of the errors, half-truths, and misrepresentations that fill their pages. But you also need specific facts to answer or evaluate many of the particular things he says. It is not possible in a special report to do a thorough refutation of all of Chick’s claims, but here are some things you should be aware of concerning the most common themes in his tracts, as well as pointers for where to go for more information.
Like many, Chick does not understand what the term anathema means. He thinks that it means "damned as a heretic." Elsewhere he uses "damned as a heretic" in place of the word anathema.
But this is not what the term means. In Catholic documents the term refers to a kind of excommunication. By the time of the Council of Trent (which Chick faults for using it), it referred to an excommunication done with a special ceremony. Thus when Trent says things like "If anyone says . . . let him be anathema," it means that the person can be excommunicated with the ceremony. It also did not apply to
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