Jack T. Chick, an evangelical comic publisher who sold over 750 million comic units, has recently passed away at age 92. Perhaps his name is not familiar, but his comics certainly are.
Known as “Chick tracts,” these little Christian comic books serve as tools for evangelism in the form of gifts to non-believers.
Over 50 years of publishing isolationist-Christian thought has allowed Chick Publications to cover all sorts of spiritual, theological and, most importantly, cultural topics from a “holy” perspective.
Additionally, enormous sales are evidence of how prevalent Chick’s influence truly is within the American Christian subculture.
If a perfect example of the stereotypical evangelical existed, it would be found in abundance within the shock-inducing, anti-culture Chick tracts.
To be clear, these comics are not the true enemy being fought within this column. Rather the lifestyle that they reflect and reaffirm is. It is a lifestyle of isolationism that — in every practical and spiritual manner — must die, for God’s sake. This mindset induces the most harm to the name of God and, therefore, is the worst action any believer can take.
To get specific, most of these comics condemn pieces of culture (be it Halloween, homosexuals, evolution, and even Dungeons & Dragons to name a few), and each one ends with a character surrendering their life to Jesus.
As is true in sharing any message, the execution matters more than the intentions behind the message.
One example of the poor execution of the Chick tract can be found within the comic titled “Doom Town.”
This comic condemns homosexuals by claiming God “destroyed an entire city because of the sin of homosexuality.”
Not only is this false — God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their sin and corruption in general — but it also invalidates LGBTQ+ readers by professing God to be wrathful with them.
As for evolution, the comic titled “Big Daddy?” is a tract about a fictional classroom conversation between a well-reasoned Christian student, an ugly Atheist and an unreasonably rude biology professor.
Instead of making the enemy of the story something inherently evil, Chick intentionally vilifies an entire group of nonbelievers.
“Dark Dungeons,” the cult classic amongst D&D players since 1984, demonizes the hobby of fantasy roleplaying by depicting its practice as preparation for legitimate witchcraft.
The tract also went as far to condemn the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien because their books happen to be sold in “occult” bookstores. Once again, invalidating an entire group of nonbelievers, the secular bookworm.
There is a reason Lewis and Tolkien, two of the most sincerely Christian authors, are accepted by the so-called “occult worshipers.” Their art doesn’t invalidate anybody.
And because they don’t invalidate anyone, the potential audience for their wisdom-enriched fantasy stories is expansive and not rejected by many nonbelievers.
How did Chick expect to effectively evangelize when his art is designed to be rejected?
It gets worse. Chick attempts to justify himself.
In “Who’s the Real Hater?” Chick explains why his company makes tracts, and how it is actually hateful to not evangelize to those who lack God in their lives. They use Jonah, the Ninevite-hating prophet, as the example.
The story of Jonah is a fair enough illustration, and where Chick comes from is understandable.
However, this same tract states the most appalling sentence ever made by a so-called follower of Christ.
“The purpose of the Chick tracts is to shock the unbelievers into realizing they are lost, deserving of judgment and in need of a Savior.”
Fear-mongering was Chick’s God-damned mission statement.
If anything causes more people to turn away from Jesus, it is this: the blatant rejection and condemnation of the secular culture.
Christians are called to share the love of God so that all of His children have the chance to turn to Him. Invalidating and demonizing His children is the recipe for rejection.
It is this behavior, and not the choice of the nonbeliever, that leads more people to Hell than anything else. Thus, there is no action more evil for Christians than this.
To reiterate, it is not sinful for “Narnia” and “The Lord of Rings” to not imbed Christ as blatantly as Jack T. Chick did.
For “God can be found in anything, including culture, even if it’s not necessarily deemed as ‘Christian’ culture,” stated sophomore Shelley Waltar, a member of Geeks Under Grace.
As a member of an organization dedicated to educating Christians on how to safely consume pop culture, Waltar understands the utmost importance of embracing the secular world around us.
“We’re not going to be able to understand [the secular world] if we stay in a Christian bubble our entire life,” Waltar said. “We have to take in the culture, stay relevant, so we know how to talk to people [and evangelize] because culture influences communication so much.”
Waltar gets it. Christians must embrace culture if they ever wish to make any positive impact for Christ.
If Jesus can turn the cross, the most torturous death man has ever imagined, into a symbol of hope … why can’t He also make fictional fantasy work for His wishes?
After all, the only people Christ condemned and criticized were Church leaders and His own disciples. Think about that next time someone says “What Would Jesus Do?”
Kyle Sogge is a sophomore illustration major.