Allow me to introduce you to a world. A world you have probably never seen before. A world of child molestation and abuse, rape, torture, and murder. A world of darkness, of misery and grief, the likes of which will send the proverbial shudder trembling down your spine. In this world of perpetual terror, the most frightening and evil people who commit unthinkable, stomach turning crimes are left unscathed, and allowed to roam free afterwords. Their victims never seeing justice. In this bleak world, the innocent are often thrown gleefully into a lake of eternal fire so that their torture can last forever.
No, I’m not talking about the script for the newest Hollywood blockbuster film; I’m talking about the world of Jack T. Chick. Chick, born in 1924, is a fundamentalist Christian of a particularly dreary sort and is probably most well known for his now infamous Chick Tracts. Chick espouses are worldview of an Evangelical Protestant sort, cemented by a nasty fundamentalism. It’s evident by most of his tracts that he believes that any offense to morality, law, or human dignity can be forgiven by accepting Jesus Christ and being born again. This process of being born again, and thus forgiven of your sins, apparently also leaves one immune to prosecution. Or so one might get the impression from many of Chick’s publications.
Each tract deals a central theme. Some are rather banal like, premarital sex, divorce, homosexuality, Dungeons and Dragons, demonic possession, witchcraft; things that apparently keep Evangelicals awake at night. These tracts are of a particularly laughable kind. For example, Chick’s very serious belief that the Dungeons and Dragons game teaches children real spells, or that witches actually exist, or that your body being possessed by a demon is something people need to be concerned about. The topics of these tracts might leave you with the impression that Chick is just sad man who is a little off his rocker. Maybe you’re right, but I think if you take a broader view, in context with his writings concerning harsher topics like rape, child molestation, and murder; that you begin to see that something is wrong. You start to get a glimpse into the workings of a mind that has been utterly crippled and deranged by fundamentalist religious dogma.
In the tract titled “Gomez is Coming”, the protagonist, Ricky Valdez, takes the outward appearance of a white suburban teenager in a car with two Hispanics. The protagonist and his cohorts are gang members, out to kill people at random. It’s important to note here that in much of Chick’s literature, people, especially minorities and groups behave in an extremely stereotypical and cliche manner. One of the Hispanic gang members in the car was even dressed in “Hollywood Hispanic Gang Member” regalia; a long sleeved and checkered flannel button up shirt, thin trimmed mustache, sunglasses at night, and I shit you not, a fedora. Ricky fires an antiquated revolver out the rear window, wounding two and killing one. The unfortunate person who’s life is lost to this random and senseless barbarism, is Luis Gomez, brother of Gomez the Butcher. The Butcher we learn, has a nasty and murderous disposition, and is conveniently about to be released from prison in time to avenge his brothers pointless murder. The Butcher’s gang tracks down Ricky, kidnapping and beating the shit out of him, and then turning him over to Gomez when he arrives. Instead of Gomez killing or torturing Ricky, we’re shown Gomez relating a story to Ricky in the form of a flashback. In this flashback, a fellow inmate who used to be more evil than Gomez the Butcher himself, tells Gomez about a murder committed over 2,000 years ago. Gomez, who’s apparently never heard of Christianity before is enraptured by this tale of slaughter and blood-lust, is convinced that Jesus is the most badass hombre ever and repents his earthly sins. In the final frames of this tale, we see everyone gathering together for fellowship and grinning madly as Gomez tells his gang and Ricky about Jesus who oddly enough, they seem to not know of either. The end. No, seriously, that’s it. No one goes to jail for murder.
This isn’t the even worst tract Chick has written. “Lisa” is the title of horrifying tale every secularist fears. While the tale is certainly Americanized, it can easily be analogous for what happens in any theocracy. It’s a tale of the physical and emotional abuse of a little girl. When we finally see an image of her, she appears to be a toddler fearfully clutching a teddy bear, and the sight is completely heartbreaking. In this travesty of morality, Chick seeks tirelessly to lay the blame for the toddler continually being raped squarely at the feet of pornography. In both scenes in which we’re implied to that she’s raped, pornography featured as a centerpiece of the story. In one of the scenes, a neighbor casually informs the father that he knows what’s going on and blackmails him to “share and share alike”. Later, it’s the doctor who confronts the father by breaking the news that his daughter has contracted herpes, and that he knows about the abuse as well. This doctor then goes on an evangelical tirade claiming that “..pornography is ruining your family…” and convincing him that if he accepts Jesus all his problems will be solved. Keeping with Chick’s ludicrous theology, as soon as the father does this, he’s a brand new man. Exclaiming that “I feel different, Doctor…I feel clean. God has forgiven a horrible wretch like me”. The father then runs off to spread the good news—and I suppose herpes as well—to his wife, who then has a similar experience. The story closes with the toddler, clutching that teddy bear, with the father and mother promising not to hurt her anymore. They tell her they love her, and Jesus does too. It’s at this point that I want to scream at the child to run as fast as she can to the first police officer she can find. The following quote by Stephen Weinberg was almost designed for this story, “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things, and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion”.
This clearly isn’t a person who I’d let within a mile of my child, and yet I’d be willing to bet Chick thinks tales like this show the greatness of God and how righteous his morality is. It’s this twisted sense of what constitutes morality that absolutely terrifies the hell out of secularists.
After a bit of consideration, I think I’m going to write a follow up post to this one, I didn’t get in nearly enough in this post. There’s so much to cover. So expect a follow up. I’m also seriously considering writing a series on the Tracts. A sort of review series.