The Jack Chick Tr¡ck†:
Is He Satirizing
His Own Followers?
Chris Basten

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Chris Basten"
Subject: Re: Comic book salvation
Date: Monday, July 16, 2001 7:03 PM

Keep writing! Please keep writing! Fire away! -- and all that! I love it when you write. You've come up with some real dillies (that I'll eventually have time to post) and have offered me some much needed levity amidst some rather tough times I've had lately. This work can sometimes get to you, but I never tire of hearing from those of us who actually care about our world and our fellow humans.
 

Fortunately for the rest of us, most Christians are utterly embarrassed by these things -- not just because they're insipid but mainly because of his slip-shod scholarship and his pre-Enlightenment understanding of the Christian religion. Mostly, though, Christians hate these things because Chick is a bigot-and-a-half. This is truly embarrassing because when Chick portrays the Bible as advocating bigotry, he doesn't need to stretch it very far.

They are hilarious, though; I know a few atheists who collect these things (the same way some people collect Swatch™ watches or PEZ™ dispensers).

I'm almost happy that these things are as popular as they are. They make the Evangelicals who hand them out feel as if they've met their "witnessing" obligation simply by leaving one of these things in a phone booth. This keeps a good number them from learning to apply themselves to actually making an effort (and possibly doing some real damage).
 

If you think Chick Tracts are vapid, here's another method of evangelism that I hope doesn't become real popular (for the sake of the Christian religion's reputation).

Are you ready for -- Jesus Beach Sandals!?

Would you believe the thongs of propaganda!?No kidding! These sandals leave footprints in the sand that say, "Jesus Loves You"! As "This is True" columnist Randy Cassingham said when I sent him the URL, "Don't make me puke, Cliff!" I'm not, Randy! I promise! Someone else invented these things and markets them. And gaud doesn't even know who would wear them! None of the Christians I've ever known would stoop to this! not even the ones who would hand out Chick Tracts.
 

I've been known to use Chick Tracts as props in my writing. The Chick name comes in handy even when it's not the genuine article you're talking about! In fact, the booklet called "They Come On Bicycles," mentioned in my May, 1999, column, "Prophet Answers His Own Questions," was not a Chick Tract. But it would be right up Chick's alley to take pot-shots at the Mormons over their missionaries' occasional use of bicycles (I think most of them use cars these days). Nevertheless, "They Come On Bicycles" is by Bill McKeever, not Jack Chick. For a column whose "abstract limitation" is that it must fill a precise number of column inches each month, nobody was the wiser when I omitted mention of this fact, because Chick might as well have written it!

Kristine and I gave Chick the business in the letter exchange titled, "Hovind Writes Chick Tract; Need I Say More?" I think the most scathing comment I've made on anyone in quite some time was the way I scattered actual panels from a real Chick Tract throughout this exchange. Read them in the order I arranged them and see: Is Chick telling us that he's emulating the Maoists with their use of propaganda? Is it wise of him to admit this to his readers? Hmmm! I pride myself on making a few keen observations, but this time Chick outdid me in his assessment of himself!

I wonder if Chick is simply one of the most successful satirists going? I mean, I can just picture Chick laughing at his readers who would actually believe the stuff he dishes out -- the way his Satan character laughs at the non-Christian characters who get suckered into his sneaky traps, end up unwittingly rejecting the Everlasting Mercy of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and in the end get flung into a Literal Lake of Fire by a Faceless Friend of the Father -- the hapless victim always screaming, "Yaaaaaahhh!" as she or he goes flying off into The Father's Fahrenheit Forgiveness Foundry -- forever). I mean, what kind of guy would even think up the treachery that Chick places into the atheist characters in his strips? "Bwa-ha-ha-ha-haa! I tricked you! I lied to you! Hee, hee, hee, hee, hee! Now that you've fallen for the wiles of my trickery, you'll need to be punished in the cruelest ways imaginable -- for all of eternity and then some! Hahahahaha!"

Other than that, I often find myself sticking my elbow into some Christian's ribs, saying something like, "I strongly recommend that you find a superior source for your information than those Jack Chick comic books that we see stashed in telephone booths across the land."

And I think we were the only ones to link the recent Arkansas creationist legislation to Chick's Tracts: check out "The Arkansas 'Big Daddy' Bill." This proposed law was cribbed directly from Chick's little booklet called "Big Daddy?" It looks like they just handed out the comic to the legislation and then whined about God and Mom and Apple Pie and the Flag, so the legislators threw them a bone by proposing to enact this little thing as the law of the land (the proposal failed).

Gregory Auman sent us the now-infamous "It Takes Guts To Say Jesus" e-mail chain letter, and even then I compared it to a Jack Chick comic. This chain letter became so prevalent that eventually someone started an e-mail virus hoax, warning people not to read the story or their computer will croak. In it, an atheistic professor is described as haughty and intolerant, just like Chick portrays his professor. So I respond by openly suspecting that "the Jesus-Chalk Hoax and Chick's comic "Big Daddy?" may have a common source."

Chick has made a metaphor out of himself -- several metaphors, in fact. If you want to comment on a Christian who launches a bigoted tirade against non-Christians (and even "not-like-us" Christians) using oversimplified arguments, replete with dishonest rhetorical techniques, any number of angles involving Chick's publications will work. Ditto for the sheer laziness in stuff like the Jesus Sandals. This brand of Christianity completely baffles me: what are these people doing!? -- or not doing? The literalization of the Jesus myth has become a Madison Avenue ticket because they could never convince us through honest argument, and it's no longer legal for them to burn us. So what do they have left?

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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