Sunday, 4 May 2008

You will burn in hell

Jack Chick is an American religious comics producer and a hateful, ignorant man. A born again Independent Baptist, his comics proselytize his particular version of Christianity and according to Wikipedia, he is the most published comic book author in the world.

His comics are aimed primarily at terrifying children into believing in god with the threat of eternal hell fire. He doesn't proclaim any kind of positive message, you understand, in Chick's world, god is good only because he sent his son to save people from the torment of hell, which confusingly he himself (god, not Chick) created in the first place. The crackpot logic isn't the issue though: it is the sheer hatefulness that shines from every page.

All Chick comics (or 'tracts' as they are called) are virtually identical. Someone is performing some activity that Chick considers unacceptable. Someone pops up out of nowhere to teach that person about Jesus (incredibly, in almost every case, the protagonist claims to have never heard of Jesus or hell). The protagonist either accepts Jesus into his/her life on the spot, based solely on the threat of hellfire from this one person, or laughs it off and naturally winds up tormented in hell. Even if the former option is chosen, it wouldn't be a Chick Tract if someone didn't end up in hell. I think he just likes drawing flames or something.

You might be surprised at what kind of behaviour Jack Chick considers unacceptable. Alongside the usual suspects, such as homosexuality or (literally) god forbid being a Muslim, Chick tells us that role playing games inevitably (seriously, there is no alternative) lead people to witchcraft (actual casting of real spells) and therefore to hell. 'Celebrating' Halloween by trick-or-treating is also the first step on an inevitable route to hell. Rock music is intrinsically evil, as is, hardly unexpectedly, the teaching of or belief in evolution.

Chick's hateful beliefs range from the ridiculous to the dangerous. In the former category, he tells us that Satan's favourite TV show is Bewitched (seriously: he delays his demon board meeting so he can watch it from his burning chair with skull motif, apparently not possessing an infernal VCR). He explains to a demon that Bewitched "paved the way for all our occult and vampire programming viewed by MILLIONS today!" and the comic implies that Bewitch was explicitly commissioned by Satan himself.

In the latter category, Chick tells us that condoms do not protect against AIDS, spreading the hateful, harmful lie that holes in the latex allow "ten AIDS viruses to pass through side by side", whatever that could possibly mean.

As bad as all this is, Chick Tracts have an even more sinister aspect. Although they are ostensibly about terrifying children into believing in god (a tactic I cannot under any circumstances condone), what they are really about is judgement. When you die, you will be judged by someone with exactly the same values as Jack Chick. Even down to the rock music and role-playing games.

It's impossible to get across the horror, hatefulness and ignorance of the Chick Tracts without a few examples. However, I find myself unable to choose any in particular, since they are all equally bad in their unique way. Pick one at random from the list of online tracts: and see for yourself. Be sure to check out some of the ones 'adapted for a black audience'. You can almost see Chick leaning back in his chair in satisfaction at a job well done preaching to 'the blacks', who he seems to only grudgingly admit are real people.

Chick cannot possibly believe the black and white idiocy present in many of his tracts. He cannot believe that things like role-playing games or certain types of music inevitably lead to the practice of witchcraft. He finds it a bit unsettling because of his ignorance and in the spirit of Lying For Jesus, he tries to frighten kids away from them. His comics about evolution are especially confused. In this one, the biology teacher is portrayed as an intolerant buffoon, trotting out creationist straw man arguments. He claims that he could have a student jailed for mentioning the bible, even though - confusingly - the same panel points out that this isn't true. The teacher even has a framed picture of a chimp eating a banana with the caption 'our father' hanging on his wall. I am not making this up. Naturally, the student's arguments are overwhelming and the teacher is forced to leave the University as it is now obvious that evolution is not true. It goes without saying that the University's administrators behave childishly throughout the incident, showing how educators are intolerant of religion and therefore, sinisterly, that education is evil and should be avoided.

In this tract, a boy is presented with a bizarrely teleological and false description of evolution, which immediately causes him to proclaim himself a god, free from all moral considerations. He even goes as far as to expound eugenics, all apparently within a few minutes of learning about evolution. Because, you see, taking a scientific approach to the origin of life leads directly to evil.

Sadly, when the inevitable preacher turns up to correct him, he doesn't listen, with the usual Chick result.

The message in all of this? Ignorance is to be celebrated. Learning about stuff is bad. New experiences are bad. Above all, having even innocent fun is bad and will lead you directly to hell. Why? Because Jack Chick is scared of everything.

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