|Chick Tracts found in a public location|
You may have see them. Perhaps one was lying on a park bench, or on a public bathroom sink. Some are cleverly placed as reading material for the bathroom stall, sitting atop the toilet paper dispenser. Maybe somebody has handed one to you as a gift. Maybe you found one underneath the windshield wiper of your car after Sunday morning mass. They're actually quite common, and a surprising number of people use them.
In the decades that followed, Chick began running tracts on various "false" religions, so as to warn readers about the dangers of various "cults." These include such religions as; Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, etc. However, the one religion these newer tracts focus on the most is Roman Catholicism. In fact, not only does Chick have multiple tracts dedicated to "exposing" the "false religious system" of Roman Catholicism, but it's also published a series of feature length comic books, illustrated in full colour, dedicated to the same cause. The comic books are based on the testimony of one "Alberto Rivera," who claims to have been a Jesuit priest, and left the "Roman cult" after discovering the truth about Jesus Christ in the Bible. Literally hundreds of thousands of people have been deceived by these publications.
According to Gary Metz in "The Alberto Story," originally published in the 9 edition of Cornerstone, back in 1981, Mr. Alberto Rivera (who was also known by the alias "Alberto Romero") was never a Catholic priest, and had a long history of legal problems including credit card theft, phoney investment schemes, and check fraud. Metz also claims he had been successfully sued for fraud, and warrants were even issued for his arrest. He was also wanted in Spain for similar legal issues. Metz also documented significant discrepancies in Rivera's stories, that make it impossible for any of his claims to be true about his alleged time in the priesthood. The Catholic Church also denies his claim that he was ever a priest. Metz reports that Rivera also claimed he was married to one Carmen Lydia Torres, on an employment application from 1963, in which they had two children together. However, this was during the time when he was supposed to be a celibate priest in Spain. Metz also uncovered that Rivera received his doctorate degrees from a diploma mill in Colorado, and that the time allotted for study was simply not enough time for one to earn real doctorate degrees from an actual university. Was Alberto Rivera (Alberto Romero) a complete and total fraud? Did he pull the wool over the eyes of Jack T. Chick and his cartoon publishing company? Or is Chick Publications knowingly working with a con-man to deceive its readers? You decide.
A great deal of Chick's anti-Catholic propaganda is based on Mr. Rivera's apparent false claims, but Chick doesn't rely on this alone. The publisher also uses claims made by Alexander Hislop's 1853 publication of "Two Babylons" which is pure anti-Catholic propaganda. Most of Hislop's claims are unsubstantiated, and a great deal of his cited footnotes are really just cross-references in which Hislop cites himself as proof of the claims he made. I briefly touched on Hislop's work in my essay entitled "John Hagee & Anti-Catholicism."
To make a long story short, Chick Publications has become something of an anti-Catholic propaganda clearing house. If one were to believe just half of what the publisher puts out, one would be forced to believe that the Catholic Church, particularly the Vatican, is responsible for every evil that has befallen humanity for the last 1,500 years. Communism, Nazism, the Mafia, Occultism, Freemasonry, and Islam; are all supposedly the invention of the Catholic Church. This of course in addition to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy; all carried out by Jesuit spies. The Jesuit order itself is depicted as some sort of Catholic KGB or CIA, which secretly spawns assassinations, riots and wars all over the world. It's really quite comical (no pun intended) to consider the implications of this comic book Christianity, and could be entertaining if so many people didn't actually believe it. Make no mistake about it, this stuff is spiritual poison.
What Chick likes to do is what a lot of propaganda artists do so well. They take the skin of the truth, and stuff it with a great big lie. You see the best propaganda is the kind in which you can't tell the difference between the truth and a lie, just by looking on the surface. It isn't until you dig in underneath that the real falsehoods start to materialise, tangled together with the truth. Because you see, the best lies, are those that are laced with just enough truth to make them more believable.
Such is the case with Chick Tracts. The underlying premise of Chick Tracts is the tired old propaganda of Martin Luther -- an excommunicated Catholic priest who declared the pope as the Antichrist, himself as the sole infallible interpreter of Scripture, and the Jews as a plague upon the earth deserving persecution. Everything Chick Tracts promote, underscores Martin Luther's assertion that the pope is the Antichrist, blames almost every major war on the pope; including World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, the Cold War, etc. Chick publications can be easily refuted with just a modest degree of Catholic education. I won't waste my time trying to disprove all of Chick's ridiculous claims, but I'll be happy to address the falsehoods of just one of its most popular anti-Catholic tracts: "Are Roman Catholics Christians?" This particular tract summarises almost all of the arguments Chick Publications makes against Catholicism, so by addressing this one, I've pretty much addressed them all, including their other anti-Catholic tracts, their "Alberto" comic books series, based on the tall tales of Alberto Rivera (Alberto Romero), and the various anti-Catholic books Chick sells in its bookstore. All of these are just extended versions of what is presented here in this one 23-page tract.
Chick Publications are copyrighted, so I can't reprint the inside pages and art on my blog. I will instead provide you with a link to each page in the tract, as these can be viewed online from the Chick Publications website...
Are Roman Catholics Christians?
by Chick Publications
A critique by Shane Schaetzel
- Page 1: This is the cover page, which presents the ominous question: "Are Roman Catholics Christians?" Most Chick Tracts follow this basic two-colour pattern of black on one side, and a bright colour of some sort on the other. The rest of the tract is in black and white.
- Page 2: The idea is presented that Roman Catholics are not Christians, the false Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) is affirmed here, and the fictional character of "Helen" is introduced. "Helen" is supposed to represent all good Catholics. Now, I have soundly refuted the whole premise of Sola Scriptura in my essay "The Bible Is Not Alone." It basically debunks the premise that Chick Publications takes for granted and just assumes its readers will be acquainted with. The fact that Chick spends almost no time here, trying to back the Sola Scriptura heresy, proves that the intended audience of this tract is Protestants not Catholics. That's not to say Chick doesn't expect some Catholics to read it. But the primary purpose of the tract is to brainwash Protestants, and further root them into anti-Catholic propaganda.
- Page 3: Like all good propaganda, page 3 begins with the skin of the truth. Notice however, it doesn't say "Roman Catholic Church," but rather "Roman Catholic INSTITUTION." The idea here is to deny the Catholic Church the identity of anything Christian, and make it look more like an impersonal corporation or governing body. Then it correctly states that baptism is one of the seven sacraments, which is a channel of grace, through which we all hope to be saved. The word "hope" is highlighted here, as if to say there is no guarantee. Again, there is a skin of truth to that. God never guarantees salvation to us, but we do have the "hope" of salvation, if we trust him, obey his commands and receive the sacraments, because God has given us his word on it. It then goes on to describe the old baptism ritual. It says that salt is used, which is correct, but then it says that it is used to "preserve her from future influence by evil spirits" as if to say it's some kind of superstitious thing. This is categorically false. Rather, the priest states what the salt is for in the baptism ritual: "Receive the salt of wisdom, that you may have the taste for things of God." Now the oil does have some connection with exorcism, as was the tradition of the early Church dating back at least to the early 3rd century. The priest recites: "We anoint you with the oil of salvation in the name of Christ our Savior; may He strengthen you with His power, who lives and reigns forever and ever." Here you can see how the skin of the truth is stuffed with a lie. Chick accurately states Catholic practice, but slightly twists its meaning. Then the false Protestant heresy of adult-only baptism is introduced at the bottom of the page, with a Scripture citation (Romans 6:3-10, Acts 8:36-38) which appears to indicate that only one who already believes can be baptised. What this page fails to cite is Colossians 2:11-13 which says that baptism replaces circumcision, which as you may know, is almost always administered to infants. Matthew 8:5, Matthew 15:21, Luke 7:1, Acts 16:31 all indicate that God can use the faith of one person to heal the affliction of another. Original sin is an affliction, so the faith of one (such as a parent) can heal another (such as an infant child) through the sacrament of baptism. Meanwhile Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33 and 1st Corinthians 1:16 indicate that entire households were baptised in the early Church, and that would likely include infants. (Notice that Chick conveniently ignores these passages.) The writings from many Church Fathers, dating before the 4th century, indicate that it was the widespread practice of the Early Church to baptise infants. The subtle implication of this page is that baptism can't possibly save somebody in an of itself. It would appear that Chick Publications forgot the passage of Scripture that explicitly says "baptism now saves you." (1st Peter 3:21)
- Page 4: This is the skin of the truth stuffed with a lie again! It states that the Vatican is its own country, which is accurate (skin of the truth), and that the pope is the head of that country, which is correct (skin of the truth). However, it FALSELY states that this fictional character of "Helen" (who is supposed to represent all Catholics), is now a citizen of both the United States AND the Vatican (a lie!). That is an outright lie. Catholics are not citizens of the Vatican. The Church explicitly teaches that Catholics are citizens of the countries in which we reside. Case in point, I am an American citizen, and I am only an American citizen. Being a Catholic does NOT grant me duel citizenship with the Vatican. Now I do have duel citizenship in the Kingdom of God, in a spiritual sense, but the tiny little city-state of the Vatican is NOT the Kingdom of God. The Vatican serves a purpose within the Kingdom of God, but it is not (in itself) the Kingdom of God. As a Catholic, I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God, which means I am a citizen of Heaven, but I am not a citizen of the Vatican. Only a tiny handful of people are Vatican citizens, and those are primarily the people who work in the Vatican. I don't think I would even want to be a citizen of the Vatican. (I hear the income tax rate is quite high there.) The purpose of this page is likely to induce old nationalist suspicions on the part of Protestant readers who may not know any better. The idea is to get Protestant readers to think that Catholics cannot be trusted as Americans, because their loyalties are split between America and the Vatican. Historically speaking, Protestantism has always had religiously-nationalist overtones. This page serves as another example of that.
- Page 5: Like all good propaganda, everything on page 4 is accurate, except the following. First, we see the speech bubble of the priest in confession, where he says: "My child, you must say five Hail Marys!" I have never met a priest who referred to me as his "child." They generally don't do that. That's usually a Hollywood thing. The next thing that is wrong is where it says: "Roman Catholicism replaces repentance with the sacrament of penance." This is another lie. Notice the subtlety? Chick spends a great deal of this page telling the truth, but then introduces a single lie to change the whole meaning. The truth is this. The sacrament of penance is part of repentance, it does not replace repentance. Catholics still have to repent of their sins, just like any other Christian. This page then follows with a Scripture passage (1st John 2:1-2) that talks about how Jesus Christ paid for the sins of the world. Again, this is accurate, but the suggestion here is that by engaging in the sacrament of penance, Catholics don't believe this! We most certainly do believe this, and we take it one step further, acknowledging that Christ shared his authority to forgive sins with his apostles and their successors. (John 20:22-23) Apparently, Chick Publications forgot about this passage.
- Page 6: This is a total fabrication. There is no evidence of these claims anywhere in Scripture or in archaeological history. It comes from Alexander Hislop's "Two Babylons," first published in 1853, and he cites no historical or archaeological evidence either. It's just made up fiction. You'll notice that when anti-Catholics delve into history, they often just "wing it," so to speak. The claims they make often have little connection to actual history, and the books they cite are often not recognised as accurate by any real historian. Naturally, Chick has an answer for this. It's all one, great, big, wacky conspiracy, perpetrated by the Catholic Church, of course. In the black box it states that the confessional is not found in the Bible. That's right. The early Christians didn't use the privacy of the confessional box. They confessed their sins to the priest openly, in front of the whole congregation, for everyone to hear. The confessional box was later created to avoid unnecessary burden on the confessor, and sinful gossip within the congregation.
- Page 7: This page reveals a complete lack of understanding, not only of Scripture, but of history too. The official title for a Catholic priest is not "priest." That is just a job description. His official title is "presbyter," often translated as "elder" in plain English, and it does appear in the Bible (Acts 15:6, Acts 15:23, 1st Timothy 4:14, 1st Timothy 5:17-22). As you can see by these passages, the presbyter (elder) functions in the same ceremonial role as a priest, hence the reason why he is often called a priest. However, bishops are called priests too, which again underlines this is a job description, not a job title. This page is careful not to mention the word bishop (overseer), because that word is so clearly used in the Bible that the whole page would be too easily debunked if it did. So it omits that word entirely, substituting the word "pastor" instead. While it is true the Bible never mentions the words "nuns," "monks" and "popes," that doesn't mean these positions aren't legitimate. First of all, the word pope just means "papa" and it is a term of endearment for the Bishop of Rome, who is the successor of St. Peter. Nuns and monks are not official positions in the Church and never were, so they don't need to be mentioned in the Bible. These words describe laypeople, who have dedicated their lives to prayer and service to God. There is some mention of men (Matthew 19:11-12, 1st Corinthians 7:25-38) and women (1st Corinthians 7:34, 1st Corinthians 7:39-40, 1st Timothy 5:5) who are celibate for God. These were early monks and nuns, before the words for them were invented. This tract page suggests that the Catholic Church simply "invented" these things to "impress" its followers, and that it's all used as a method of mind control. This is ridiculous prejudice and paranoia, not to mention conspiratorial. These practices, without the names (because they hadn't been invented yet), are clearly in the Bible. Chick conveniently leaves these passages out of their tracts.
- Page 8: This page humorously begins with the statement that the word "Holy Communion" doesn't sound very Christian. I suppose if you're a Protestant Fundamentalist, who lives in a rural part of America, where there aren't very many Catholics, or Anglicans, or Lutherans, etc., and you've never heard the terminology before, this might be the case. Again, I assert this tract's intended audience is Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants. Then it goes into a total fabrication of artificial history. The funny thing is; it appears that Chick is getting its ancient religions confused. Baal was the Semitic god of fertility, not the sun. The sun god was Ra, and he was worshipped in Egypt not Babylon nor among the Semites. The notion that the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation originates in ancient Egypt is laughable, and the mention of Osiris demonstrates only further that Chick Publications literally has no idea what its talking about here. Again, Chick is "winging it" when it comes to history. This is what they call "shooting from the hip." I'm sure real historians and archaeologists would get some good laughs reading this.
- Page 9: Now that the lie was introduced in page 8, it is followed by the skin of the truth in page 9. This page very carefully lays out authentic Catholic teaching. However, while it is true that Catholicism teaches the bread and wine become the literal body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, as taught in Scripture (John 6:36-71, Matthew 26:26, 1st Corinthians 10:16, 1st Corinthians 11:23-29), the Church does not teach that this has anything to do with sun worship, or that there is any connection to the Pagan sun god (which was the Egyptian Ra, not the Semitic Baal, and none of this has anything to do with ancient Babylon, which had it's own pantheon of gods by different names and characteristics). What Chick has done here is connect page 8 (a total historical fabrication) with page 9 (authentic Catholic teaching), in a tapestry of brilliant propaganda that will easily fool anyone who is uneducated in history, archaeology, Scripture and religion. As I said, the intended audience of this tract is Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants, many of whom don't know anything about these topics, other than what is taught from behind the pulpit in their churches.
- Page 10: This page is a list of one lie following another. It uses authentic pictures from Catholic worship, but reassigns totally new meanings to them. Again, this is designed to scare the pants off Protestant readers who bought into the lies of pages 8 and 9. Now, whenever they see these items of Catholic worship, it will seem to confirm what they've read herein. Now that's good propaganda! Of course, it's all false. Here are the problems. First, Catholics don't need to be old enough to tell the difference between ordinary bread and a consecrated host. Eastern Catholic Christians, as well as Eastern Orthodox Christians, administer Holy Communion to infants! Second, we do not believe a Catholic priest has "magical powers," nor do we believe he changes the bread and wine into the body of blood of Christ by his own power. Rather, we believe the priest simply has the authority to ask God to manifest the transubstantiation by the Holy Spirit, not magic. God does the work, not the priest. The priest just has the authority to ask. The second lie is offensive and blasphemous. Catholics do not believe that the priest "can pull Christ out of Heaven," nor do we believe he puts him back on the cross, nor do we believe Christ is sacrificed all over again during the mass. The official liturgy of the mass makes it clear that the Eucharist is the living flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, which has already been sacrificed once and for all time on the cross at Calvary, and is now resurrected and living. Once again, the Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist becomes the LIVING body and blood of Christ, and Jesus Christ is NEVER re-sacrificed. Granted, the mass is called a "sacrifice" but not because we believe killing goes on. It is called a "sacrifice" because the one time sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, is brought to us in the form of his resurrected and living body and blood. Now, the comment about IHS having Egyptian origins is another laughable fabrication. Egyptians used hieroglyphics not letters. And no, the letters IHS do not represent Pagan deities either. Chick is "shooting from the hip again." They are rather abbreviations for the Latin phrase In Hoc Signo which means "In This Sign." Incidentally, this lettering is rarely ever used on Catholic crosses and crucifixes. Catholics usually prefer to use the letters INRI, which is again an abbreviation for the Latin phrase Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum, which means "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." This was what it actually said above Jesus' cross (John 19:19). Then the comment "Or Else!" in the last box concerning the monstrance is just ridiculous. They make it sound as if we're gonna "get ya" if you don't bow down. This is unbelievable prejudice in print here. Again, there is no historical or archaeological connection between Osiris and Jesus here. This is just made up history again. Chick is just "winging it."
- Page 11: While this page accurately cites a canon from the Council of Trent, it horribly misinterprets it. First of all, a canon is not the same as a civil law. Failing to adhere to a canon of the Church does not mean that one will be executed. Granted, some Catholic confessional states in the Middle Ages met out harsh punishments on heretics after they were excommunicated, but this was not the doing of the Church. This was the doing of Medieval governments. You have to remember the times. Back then, there was no separation of church and state. If you committed heresy in the Church, and failed to repent of it when told, the state might consider that treason. Traitors were always dealt with harshly in Medieval times. Sadly, there were many forms of punishment for heresy during the Middle Ages, and on rare occasion that would include execution. Often, if the Church was concerned about unjust punishment from the state, a heretic would be placed under house arrest by Church order, namely for his/her protection from the state or the mob. Yet the simple truth is the inquisitions usually resulted in very lax punishment, compared to Protestant witch trials. For example; during the inquisitions, people caught committing civil crimes would often spout of some heresy or blasphemy upon arrest. This would force the authorities to bring them before an inquisition tribunal instead of a civil court. The reason why they did this is because they knew if they just promised to repent, and threw themselves at the mercy of the tribunal, they would be forgiven and set free. However, Chick is obviously operating on the old English Protestant propaganda that the inquisitions killed hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of "poor innocent Protestants." Modern historians are now revisiting this stuff and finding it to be not only flawed, but in many cases, entirely fictitious. It would appear that far more Catholics died at the hands of the English Protestant monarchs than Protestants in all of the inquisitions combined. For the record, the Council of Trent sentenced nobody to death. That is a lie. Furthermore, priests and monks did not hold a Eucharistic host in front of people and demand their worship of it or face burning at the stake. The reason why this page says "all this history has been covered up" is because the publishers know it cannot be found anywhere in a real history book. It's a lie -- a total fabrication of artificial history which they made up. They're "winging it" and "shooting from the hip" again. After this ridiculous falsification of history, the ominous warning is given "it could happen again!" with the intent of scaring the reader into fear of the Catholic Church, and Catholics in general.
- Page 12: This is probably the only page in the tract that is 100% accurate. It is condescending in the way it's written, using the phrase "wafer god" (notice the small "g" implying a false god) and then putting "God" in quotation marks later, but technically accurate from a doctrinal standpoint. Again, this is taking the skin of the truth and stuffing it with a lie. The lie comes from the previous pages, and now its wrapped in a skin of truth again, to make it seem believable. Now that's clever propaganda! Ironically, Chick cites a passage of Scripture where Jesus actually says "this IS my body" and "this IS my blood." Yet, it highlights every other portion of the passage except this.
- Page 13: This page is also accurate, and compatible with Catholic teaching. Again, Chick seems to imply here that Catholics don't believe any of this, when in fact we believe everything written on this page.
- Page 14: On this page the lie is introduced once again. On pages 12 and 13 we got the skin of the truth. Now to stuff it with a lie. Page 14 tells us that Catholics believe Jesus is re-sacrificed on the cross again during the mass. We don't believe this, nor is it taught. Rather, we are taught that the sacrifice of Christ was completed, once and for all time on the cross, and that Christ's resurrected and living body and blood is brought to us in the mass. However, on this page, the meaning of the mass is completely twisted, to imply that Catholics believe we are killing Jesus, over and over again, every day during the mass. Then it follows with the old lie of Martin Luther, that the Catholic Church is the "Great Whore of Babylon" and that Catholics should leave the Church as soon as possible, so their souls can "be saved" by becoming Evangelical Protestants.
- Page 15: On this page the sacrament of confirmation is totally perverted and has nothing to do with what we actually believe. Officially speaking, the sacrament of confirmation is the same as the "laying on of hands" by the apostles and bishops of the early Church, wherein they asked the Holy Spirit to come upon Christians to enable them to live a holy life and be empowered to witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 19:5-6, Acts 8:14-17, 2nd Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13, Hebrews 6:2). There is mention of it in the grey block on this page, but it is not explained. Besides, this doesn't happen with the "slap." Chick got that wrong too. (I know, "shocking" right?) No, the Holy Spirit is imparted with the laying on of hands, which occurs before the "slap." The "slap" comes after confirmation, from the old form of the Roman Rite, and is not typically done anymore in most Catholic churches. When it is done, it's a gentle pat really, but it's supposed to serve as a reminder that we will be persecuted for Christ. This page says nothing about any of this, but instead makes is sound like a bazaar ritual wherein the bishop somehow slaps the Holy Spirit into her. Then this page goes on to incite fear of Catholics by stating that we are secretly plotting to incite riots and kill (if necessary) on behalf of the Church. This page implies that every Catholic, who has received all three sacraments of initiation, is now a full fledged agent of Rome, ready to do its bidding against unsuspecting Protestants.
- Page 16: This page sums it all up. According to Chick Publications, Roman Catholics are NOT Christians in any sense of the word, and the whole religion is designed as a deception. Another lie is found in the fine print as well, wherein it says that Catholics believe the pope is "the highest, purist form of Godliness on this planet." The Catholic Church does not teach that. It teaches that the pope is the Bishop of Rome and successor of St. Peter, which means he is the prime minister of Jesus the King. It also teaches that he has the ability to exercise infallibility when needed on certain doctrinal matters. This ability is almost never used, and has only been used once in the last 100 years. The word "infallible" (without error) does not mean impeccable (without sin). The Church has had many bad popes throughout its history, and most Catholics know this.
- Page 17: This page takes papal quotations out of context and assumes they constitute official doctrinal teaching, which is not entirely accurate. Remember, not every word that falls from the lips of a pope is infallible. The popes have only used infallibility once in the last 100 years. Different popes say a lot of different things. Not all of them are doctrine. The quote from Pope Innocent III in context deals with the rank of the pope over other bishops. In other words, he judges them, not vice versa. The quote from Pope Boniface VIII is from a papal bull, which does not carry the same weight as an encyclical or infallible decree. What Boniface was stating here was what the Church has always taught, and was essentially true at the time it was written. There is no salvation outside the Church. In his time, before the Protestant schisms, all Western Christianity was subject to the pope, so what he said was essentially true. The actual doctrine is that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church, and in modern times, that can pertain to non-Catholics who have received a Catholic (Trinitarian) baptism, and their separation from the Church is through no fault of their own. The quote from Pope Leo XIII comes from his encyclical Preaclara Gratulationis Publicae from 1894. The statement is made in passing, not as a proclamation, because it is already established and well-known doctrine. The papacy is the office of "prime minister" to Jesus Christ the King of Heaven and Earth. That is what this phrase means. Then Chick uses a passage from the Bible that relates to the Antichrist, implying very clearly that the pope must be the Antichrist, according to the teachings of the excommunicated priest Martin Luther, because only the Antichrist would say such things. Of course, I addressed why this is impossible (Biblically speaking) in my essay "Is Pope Francis the Antichrist?"
- Page 18: This page completely twists the Church's teaching on purgatory. Purgatory is the front door of heaven. It is not a place of misery. It is a place of decreasing pain and increasing joy as the attachments to this world are burned away, cleansing one to enter heaven. Not every Catholic goes to purgatory anyway. Those who have received full absolution upon death, and have lived holy lives, may not even need purgatory. I thoroughly explained the Biblical nature of Purgatory in my essay entitled "What Is Purgatory?" This page then reinforces the Protestant doctrine of assurance of salvation, eternal security, or what is commonly known as the "once saved, always saved" doctrine. In other words, just say a special prayer, and poof! You're saved and guaranteed heaven.
- Page 19: This page completes the fictional life of the fictional character -- Helen -- who is supposed to represent all good Catholics. Her life ends without the hope of salvation, because as the page says, she trusted in the sacraments of the Church rather than the Bible. This is interesting because here Chick Publications directly contradicts the Bible. It says toward the bottom of the page: "salvation only comes through faith in Christ alone" (emphasis mine). Perhaps somebody ought to point out to Chick Publications what the Bible says: "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone" (James 2:24, emphasis mine) So now we see Chick Publications not only twisting history, archaeology, and the teachings of the Catholic Church, but now the Bible as well! Then to follow, we have more perversion on the Catholic teaching of Purgatory. I cover the Biblical teaching on Purgatory in my essay entitled "What is Purgatory?" This tract page also states that the Catholic Church perverted the Bible, which again is untrue. History tells us that the Protestant reformers actually removed books from the Bible and changed passage translations. I covered this in my essay entitled "Why Do Catholic Bibles Have More Books?"
- Page 20: This page is sacrilegious, comparing the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Pagan goddess Isis. It then states emphatically that Roman Catholics are NOT Christians. Again, this is fictitious history here, completely made up, creating "similarities" where they are none. The claim is made in the first box that Mary admitted she was a sinner, and two Scripture references are given to back this. This is clearly a Chick attack on the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. The problem here is that neither passage says she admitted she was a sinner. Luke 2:22-24 recalls the event of Joseph and Mary presenting Jesus in the Temple, and making the ceremonial sacrifice required of all women with issues of female blood flow. The second references is Leviticus 12:8, but here Chick fails to cite the full context. Chick should have cited it as Leviticus 12:2-8, then the reader can see that these particular sacrifices are ceremonial, and are made regardless if the woman committed sin or not. However, that would debunk Chick's argument here against the Immaculate Conception, and the sinlessness of Mary, so Chick opted for a partial reference (without context) instead.
- Page 21: On this page the reader is urged to believe in the Bible not the Catholic Church. A false dichotomy is created here, having twisted Catholic teaching and Scripture in such a way, as to make it appear that they are in conflict with each other, when in fact they are not. This should be no surprise here. Protestant leaders have been doing this for centuries. Chick makes no attempt to hide what they think about Catholicism here -- "evil." Chick also fails to point out that the Catholic Church gave us the Bible in the first place. Once again, see my essay entitled "Why Do Catholic Bibles Have More Books?"
- Page 22: This page tells us that Jesus Christ "hates" the Catholic Church, and then it says Jesus urges Catholics to leave the Catholic Church and essentially become Evangelical Protestants instead. A passage is given from the Book of Revelation to back this up, which is used in the exact same way Martin Luther used it when he declared the pope to be the Antichrist and the Catholic Church to be the "Whore of Babylon." This is a perversion of the text. The symbolic Babylon of Revelation was a reference to ancient Pagan Rome. The Vatican sits OUTSIDE the borders of that ancient city, ACROSS the Tiber River. The Vatican is only inside the City of Rome today because the city grew over the centuries. The Vatican has nothing to do with the "Whore of Babylon" written of here. Again, Chick is twisting Biblical context and history, but it's not the first to do so. Protestant leaders have been playing this card for centuries. The reader is urged to simply say a special prayer and poof! Salvation is assured automatically, and the reader is now free to leave the Catholic Church without fear of sin by doing so. The intended audience is still Protestant Evangelicals and Fundamentalists here, but the hope is that this tract will embolden them to witness to Catholics, who may perhaps use the tract as a guide.
- Page 23: This is the standard ending for most Chick Tracts. The reader (likely a Protestant witnessing to a Catholic) is encouraged to help the Catholic follow four steps to instantaneous and guaranteed salvation. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with the four steps in and of themselves, and they are agreeable with Catholic teaching. However, the prayer that follows the fourth step is insidious. The prayer, which is supposed to assure one of salvation if prayed sincerely, calls for total repudiation and rejection of the Catholic Church. It is followed by a spot to place a check-mark in a box, indicating that one has prayed the prayer, and a place to mark the date. Presumably, the Protestant leading the Catholic in the prayer will then check the box, placing the date on the line, and hand the tract to the Catholic as a perpetual reminder that (s)he has just rejected the Catholic Church and all of its teachings. Then this page assures the reader that if the payer was prayed, and the Catholic Church was rejected, the reader can now look forward to a wonderful new life in Jesus Christ. Then four instruction are given for going forward. First, the reader must get a King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, because Chick Publications teaches the KJV is the only Bible God approves of for English-speaking people. All other English Bibles are of the devil, especially Catholic Bibles, according to Chick. Second, the reader is encouraged to pray every day. This is a laudable instruction, and it even goes on to say "use your own words" which is something we should all do. However, the implication here is that formulated prayers, such as the "Our Father" and "Hail Mary" are deficient in some way. Third, the reader (if a Catholic) is then encouraged to commit an act of sacrilege by denying Catholic baptism, in the form of re-baptism. Of course this is followed by encouraging the Catholic to get out of the "pagan" Catholic Church and plug in with a "real" Bible Church, where the KJV is used and taken as the sole authority. Fourth, the reader is encouraged to tell others about Christ, which is laudable in itself, but the implication is that if Catholic, the reader should go to other Catholics with this tract, and try to pull others out of the Church as well.
I was baptised a Lutheran at the age of one, and raised an Evangelical Protestant. I used to believe all the nonsense in tracts like this, because I was surrounded by other Protestants who believed it too, and Catholics who didn't know their own faith well enough to defend it. I left it all behind when I began to study the Jewish roots of the Christian faith, ancient history, and the writings of the early Church Fathers. I became Catholic in 2000 and I never looked back. Trust me, the grass is no greener on the Protestant side of the fence. If anything, things are much worse over there. Trust me, I know.
Many Protestant Evangelicals and Fundamentalists believe this nonsense simply because they don't know any better, and it goes along with the anti-Catholic prejudice many of them were taught as children. It would be a mistake to assume that only ignorant and uneducated people use these Chick Tracts. I have known medical professionals to carry them, and I've seen them distribute some to their colleagues in hospitals. Just because one is well educated in a field of a secular study, like medicine, doesn't mean that one is well educated in the field of religion. Suffice it to say that cartoon Christianity is not real Christianity, and Protestants would do well to dispose of their Chick Tracts before they completely discredit themselves with them. This is a fair warning to all Protestants. If you use this garbage, I (and others like me) will obliterate your arguments, like any reasonably educated person should. Not only do Catholics consider Chick Tracts to be rubbish, but so do a lot of Protestants. You use them at your own risk. You may get away with it for a little while, but in the long run you'll be made to look rather foolish, and in the longer run, you'll do more harm than good to your cause.
As for Catholics, I highly recommend that we take them whenever we can find them, and dispose of them immediately before another poor, unsuspecting soul is deceived by the lies therein. Yes, that's right. If you see one on a park bench. Take it, tear it up, and throw it where it belongs -- in a trash bin. If a Chick Tract is laid in any public place, by law it is considered littering. So by law, you have the right to take it from any public place and dispose of such litter in a trash bin. I do recommend destroying it first, however, so some poor unsuspecting hobo isn't deceived while dumpster diving. If one is offered to you, graciously take it, and ask for a couple more if you can. Then tear them up and throw them away, to save others from being deceived by them. As for me, I like to collect them, and keep a small stash to show my children what to watch out for in this world of deception. That way they can be well educated on the various tactics the devil uses to try to pull them out of the Catholic Church.
On a personal note, I always know a follower of Chick Publications when I meet one. How? You ask. It's simple really, because when they learn that I am a former Protestant who converted to Catholicism, and they see that I am very knowledgeable in refuting their ridiculous and paranoid conspiracy theories, they immediately accuse me of being a "Jesuit spy."
So in the interest of full disclosure, I'll lay it all out for everyone to see. I am a Roman Catholic layman, not a priest, and I am not ordained in any way. So I can't be a Jesuit. I am married with children. My wife and I were both born and raised Protestant. I studied to be an Evangelical pastor, before we left Evangelicalism for Anglicanism, and then finally joined the Catholic Church. We converted to the Catholic Church together in 2000. In 2003, I joined the Knights of Columbus and I am in the 4th degree. In 2012 I began blogging about my experiences and had a book published in 2013. From 2010 to 2016 I helped to found a Catholic parish in my neighbourhood. So there you go. That's my whole story. So if you're a follower of the cartoon Christianity of Jack T. Chick, I'm sure that will be more than enough information for you to accuse me of being a "Jesuit spy," and participating in a mastermind plot by Rome, hell bent on world domination. Such is the nightmare world of Jack T. Chick; cartoon Christianity filled with paranoia and wild conspiracy theories, wherein one's own Christian brethren are suspected as one's worst enemies.
Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books and a columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com.' Your support is what makes essays like this possible. This essay and all of Shane's Internet resources come to you (ad-free) thanks to the generosity of benefactors. Please consider becoming a benefactor.
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