Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Chick Tracts, or Why Christianity is Terrifying

If you are of a certain background and upbringing, you will probably recognize the publication depicted below:

Commonly known as "Chick Tracts" after their author, Jack Chick, they are small comic pamphlets designed to grab the attention and quickly and easily convey certain tenets of Christian theology to the reader. And by "comic pamphlet" I mean "propaganda in comic form" and by "Christian theology" I mean "right-wing, bigoted, anti-Catholic, anti-science, fundamentalist Christian theology." The only reason I'm familiar with them is because my dad kept some around his place and I'd occasionally stumble across one and read it (though thankfully never because he gave me one to read) but a quick Google search shows that Jack Chick has gained some notoriety and undergone some lampooning as a result of his comics. And rightfully so. To read a Chick tract is to enter a world of evil and degeneration, where men and women are constantly tempted by minions of Satan, and constantly succumbing to temptation to hyperbolically disastrous ends, and where the only hope for avoiding eternal torment in Hell is the saving grace of Jesus Christ who, along with his Father, never really comes across as all that warm and fuzzy. For a glimpse into this world, here's Jack Chick's take on a few subjects:

Global Warming:


Drug Use:


A Christmas Carol (wherein a certain element is added to the original Dickens tale):



The end of the world:

Dungeons & Dragons (a target of fundamentalists back in the eighties):

Helpfully, Jack Chick has also adapted some of his works for an African-American audience. This particular tract is titled "Wassup?":

Really, I could go on. This is only a small sampling of Chick's collection of works, to which he apparently continues to build upon. Reading these as a boy, I was engrossed in pretty much the same manner a young boy might be if he stumbled across a copy of Hustler in an open field (totally random example.) I was both baffled and horrified, as I was pretty sure I was reading something awful without really being able to grasp the entire extent of the awfulness. As an adult of course these seem ridiculous, with the power to convert only the most simple-minded of readers, and the only horrifying element is the idea that there are literally millions of people living in our country who can relate to these pamphlets and who will eagerly hand them out to unsuspecting friends and family.


Nat-Wu said...

I must say that intellectually I never found them convincing. When I was a child, I actually did believe what I was told in church, and yet these tracts always seemed so mean and scary. It never did make sense to me that playing music would result in going to hell.

Alexander Wolfe said...

I think the only thing they convince most people to do is stay away from people like Jack Chick.