Toss out Chick trash

Jack is back!

I’m not referring to the infamous Jack the Ripper, the 1888 London serial murderer who was never caught or identified.

No, I’m talking about Jack Chick. He’s the 90-year-old founder of Chick Publications, the silliest — and most vicious — anti-Catholic publishing house in the world.

I got a call the other day asking me about him and his company. Some people were passing out tracts in downtown Pittsburgh. The tracts were titled “Love the Jewish People.” It’s hard to take issue with that sentiment until you open them and enter into the bizarre, hate-filled and paranoid world of Jack Chick.

“Love the Jewish People” claims that “Catholic Germany, serving the Vatican, launched a 20th century inquisition, murdering 6 million Jews.” It’s a conversion tract calling on Jews to join Jack Chick’s strange brand of fundamentalism while attacking the Church.

Founded in 1970, Chick Publications out of California is the distributor of viciously anti-Catholic comic books, tracts, tapes and posters to a small but persistent element in the fundamentalist Protestant population.

In other tracts, tapes and comic books Chick re-states that the Holocaust was created by the Catholic Church under the specific direction of Pope Pius XII, who gave Hitler his marching orders. The Church also created Communism, the Ku Klux Klan and the Russian Revolution. It was Jesuit minions that assassinated Abraham Lincoln and the order had John F. Kennedy killed when he wouldn’t cooperate in the papal takeover of America.

Where did all this hate literature come from? It is from the fevered brain of John T. Chick, an independent Baptist looking for the End Times momentarily who condemns any biblical translation other than the original King James Version from 1611. He is also a virtual recluse as he claims the Jesuits have shoot-to-kill orders out for him.

The material is not just ridiculous in its charges — a popular Chick tract claims that the Vatican has a supercomputer containing the names of every Protestant worldwide in preparation for a new inquisition — but also lurid in its presentation. The Chick comic books, complete with art of gruesome torture and curvaceous temptresses, have been called “born-again pornography.”

Chick first came to general Catholic awareness with the publication of the “Alberto” comic books in the 1970s and early 1980s. These comics described the alleged revelations of Alberto Rivera, who claimed to be a former Jesuit priest and bishop. He painted a portrait of a Catholic Church that is a “political monster with a religious front.”

It was mainstream Protestant organizations that went after Chick. He resigned from the Christian Booksellers Association when it became clear the group was going to expel him because of his anti-Catholic hate literature. Christianity Today, founded by Billy Graham, published the investigative reports showing that Rivera was neither a priest or a bishop, but rather a fraud and a con man.

The temptation is just to dismiss the stuff as it is so silly and outrageous. How can you take seriously, or even rationally respond, to charges that the Catholic Church invented Islam, Mormonism and the Jehovah Witnesses? Or that Pope St. John Paul II was a committed Communist who faked his own assassination attempt?

But hate is a dangerous thing to ignore, no matter how ludicrous and hysterical. That’s why Jack Chick and Chick Publications have to be taken seriously — and rejected if someone tries to pass the trash on to you in downtown Pittsburgh.

Or anywhere else.

Robert P. Lockwood writes from Pennsylvania.