Hate The Sinner: The Pious Passion of Chick (With Dicks) TractsBy Shawn Baker / Thursday, October 20th, 2011
“Tomorrow, a healer’s going to tell us about the Mother Goddess being spotted everywhere, and he’s gonna teach us how to find and turn in heretics!”
Picture this: An oppressive One World government outlaws Christianity, condemning any and all who preach the Word of God to be corralled in internment camps for reconditioning or executed if they fail to comply. Now that the Liberal Agenda has culminated in imminent apocalypse, teachers are at last free to begin indoctrinating children about how marriage is for chumps while instructing them in the intricacies of ritual animal sacrifice. A star pupil — known as “The Monster” to his still-righteous family — decides turning in the faithful (now branded “sickos”) to the Progressive Gestapo headed by a New Age Healer in superhero attire is a great way to turn a buck, a move which ultimately triggers the Rapture and dooms the little prick to Hell as people vanish out of their clothes.
So everything turns out for the best.
A delve into the universe of Christian fundamentalist comic book artist Jack Chick will acclimate you to a stunning array of batshit plots that will have you alternately groaning, shaking your head, spit-taking your Riuniti all over your keyboard, or rolling on the floor. Colloquially known as “Chick Tracts,” these gospel-themed comics have been distributed by buzzkill churches, schools, and summer camps for four decades now in an effort to save precious little minds from the perils of secular culture.
Propaganda is almost never fun, and religious propaganda is always excruciating — God may work miracles, but why can’t he ever manage to produce quality entertainment? — yet Chick Tracts have achieved an ironic, parodic cred among hipsters and smart asses that makes them at least bearable and at best sidesplitting with the right mindset. In a world where all Liberals are cackling thugs and every Christian is a victimized saint, it’s hard not to find humor in a juvenile antagonist who, when told by his grandfather not to offer up pets on Satanic altars, counters “Shut up fool! They’re only jerks who died and came back as dogs and cats!,” or who threatens to trump up child abuse allegations against his parents when they tell him to go to bed.
“Liberal Bias” is a rather dated term that originated in the ’80s when conservatives started handwringing about the Lefty content in children’s programming, and the term is still trotted out today. Basically, if it had witches, empowered heroines, sympathetic monsters, or any sort of talk about equality or science, then some televangelist or concerned watchdog group went apoplectic over it. Christians figured out that they needed their own wholesome alternatives to all the devil music and cinematic debauchery, which amounted to stripping rock ‘n roll of all its raucous rebellion and jettisoning the fun kind of violence and sex from movies.
Comic books with their forward-thinking protagonists and lurid thrills have long been the bane of the PTA — it’s depressing to see photos from the ’50s depicting fine upstanding Americans collectively losing their shit and burning copies of Tales From The Crypt and Wonder Woman with the help of their beaming moppets, and this year some dumb bitch in Minnesota tried to get copies of Jeff Smith’s epic Bone pulled from school library shelves — so Chick Tracts are essentially the “Fair & Balanced” (read: skewed and wacko) alternative for good kids who drink all their Sunny Delight and cry when they masturbate at night.
If anything, these kiddie gospels are even more in demand now that our current unhinged Right Wing clusterfuck (NOM ads in particular have a very tract-y quality) seems to be nearing an apex that will involve a military coup followed by ethnic cleansing once Jesus manifests his image in a Pringle.
With culture warriors pushing covenant marriage, purity rings, exorcisms, and the return of chastity belts and Scarlet Letters, Chick Strips actually encapsulate the breadth of the wingnutty mindset quite well. Satan is the trickster bent on upping his quota of doomed souls, Muslims are foreign infidels who must be converted if they’re to be saved, evolution is a scam perpetrated by the intelligentsia, all human misery is caused by turning away from God, and Halloween is the perfect occasion to reach unsaved children cavorting like so many demons in the streets.
The plot of every Chick Tract is at once ham-handedly hilarious, cruelly dejecting, and chock full of the kind of convenient moral summations you need to believe are possible if you’re one of the faithful.
How do you even begin to select the loopiest storyline?: the dinosaurs were felled because they were wayward sinners; a priest manages to finger-wag an abusive white trash married couple into seeing the error of their ways with about as much effort as it takes to sneeze, then foils an international child trafficking ring on the way home; a young boy is beaten to death, and after dying alone in an alley is carted off to Heaven by an angel whose schedule apparently didn’t leave him enough time to actually intervene in the poor kid’s murder; Satan disguises himself as a loud-mouthed Liberal in order to trick a young man out of salvation, drive him into an oncoming train, and condemn him to perdition; gay activists threaten to purposefully contaminate the blood supply in an act of “blood terrorism” if their political goals aren’t met; and a member of a teenage girl coven kills herself over a Dungeons & Dragons game.
The unifying thread? It doesn’t matter if you’re a kind and self-disciplined person because only by groveling before God like the wretch you are can you be saved. A hit man, murderer, or child molester just has to repent at the last minute before biting it — Bart Simpson figured out the death bed recantation loophole years back — in order to get his slate wiped clean while you char like the godless whore you are for the transgressions of recycling, having genuine affection for another man, or using birth control. In this charming worldview, it’s the Westboro Baptists who apparently have it all pegged: we’re all pitiful sinners wallowing in depravity, God is the head of a vicious clique that demands slavish and total conformity from a human race he seems to despise, and any form of joy or exhilaration is eeeeee-villllll!
God damn us everyone.
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