Anti-Halloween tracts that out Halloween Halloween

Jack Chick is that anti-Catholic comic book artist who also puts out evangelistic tracts, including ones that some Christians give out as Halloween treats. You’ve got to read Joe Carter’s account of these things, which includes actual horrific panels for the little kiddies, with the exquisite title Trick or Tract: Satan, Jack Chick, and Other Halloween Horrors.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Jack Kilcrease

    The best track is “The Death Cookie” which is history description of the eucharistic controversy of the 16th century. It’s hilarious and has nothing to do with the real history of the Lord’s Supper. I showed my wife (who is a scholar of 19th century British church history) the website and she says that many of historical theories about the origins of Catholicism are based on 19th century pseudo-history promoted by the Evangelical wing of the Anglican church at that time.

  • Jack Kilcrease

    The best track is “The Death Cookie” which is history description of the eucharistic controversy of the 16th century. It’s hilarious and has nothing to do with the real history of the Lord’s Supper. I showed my wife (who is a scholar of 19th century British church history) the website and she says that many of historical theories about the origins of Catholicism are based on 19th century pseudo-history promoted by the Evangelical wing of the Anglican church at that time.

  • http://www.geneveith.com geneveith

    So is he equally inflammatory against the Lutheran position?

  • http://www.geneveith.com geneveith

    So is he equally inflammatory against the Lutheran position?

  • Darren

    When I was growing up, my dad wouldn’t allow Chick tracts or comic books in the house, because he believed they dwelt too much on fear of evil, and nowhere near enough on love of good.

  • Darren

    When I was growing up, my dad wouldn’t allow Chick tracts or comic books in the house, because he believed they dwelt too much on fear of evil, and nowhere near enough on love of good.

  • WebMonk

    One of my favorite little parts of the famous/infamous Chick Halloween tract is his completely fabricated “history” of Halloween.

    One little detail: they didn’t have pumpkins back when the Druids were around. Those are a New World item.

    But Chick didn’t let that stop him from proclaiming the nasty Druids left carved pumpkins in front of houses from which they kidnapped, raped, and sacrificed virginal girls.

    The absolutely best thing I can say about him and his tracts is that he is honestly deluded.

  • WebMonk

    One of my favorite little parts of the famous/infamous Chick Halloween tract is his completely fabricated “history” of Halloween.

    One little detail: they didn’t have pumpkins back when the Druids were around. Those are a New World item.

    But Chick didn’t let that stop him from proclaiming the nasty Druids left carved pumpkins in front of houses from which they kidnapped, raped, and sacrificed virginal girls.

    The absolutely best thing I can say about him and his tracts is that he is honestly deluded.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    There’s a kind of occult-obsessed Christianity that veers very close to pornography, and taps (I suspect) almost the same part of the brain. I felt it when I first read Mike Warnke’s The Satan Seller, and was not much surprised when I later learned what a fraud Warnke is. I still believe what I said in Wolf Time, that the occult is of the devil, but primarily (at least in our time and culture) as a diversion, not as a direct attack.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    There’s a kind of occult-obsessed Christianity that veers very close to pornography, and taps (I suspect) almost the same part of the brain. I felt it when I first read Mike Warnke’s The Satan Seller, and was not much surprised when I later learned what a fraud Warnke is. I still believe what I said in Wolf Time, that the occult is of the devil, but primarily (at least in our time and culture) as a diversion, not as a direct attack.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Given what Luther (and Melanchthon) said about the Pope, this forum should probably be careful about characterizing Chick as “anti-Catholic,” no?

    As for me, I’ve seen a lot of Chick tracts, including some recently, and the chief sin that comes across very quickly in these tracts is melodrama; the majority of people whose sins are more subtle and whose lives are more banal are going to simply fail to connect with them.

    Kinda like Lars’ comment about it being “Gospel porn”.

    (and regarding our gracious host’s question; I’ve not seen any Chick tracts attacking Lutherans, at least not in a way that’s obvious to me)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Given what Luther (and Melanchthon) said about the Pope, this forum should probably be careful about characterizing Chick as “anti-Catholic,” no?

    As for me, I’ve seen a lot of Chick tracts, including some recently, and the chief sin that comes across very quickly in these tracts is melodrama; the majority of people whose sins are more subtle and whose lives are more banal are going to simply fail to connect with them.

    Kinda like Lars’ comment about it being “Gospel porn”.

    (and regarding our gracious host’s question; I’ve not seen any Chick tracts attacking Lutherans, at least not in a way that’s obvious to me)

  • kerner

    Bike Bubba @ 6:

    You’re right about melodrama being Chick’s big problem. And I haven’t seen anything per se anti-Lutheran in a Chick publication either.

    I think hard shell Baptists like Chick rarely have anything to say about Lutheranism. I don’t know if they just haven’t noticed us, or if they just haven’t figured us out.

    This is just a guess, but I think it might have something to do with contemporary Baptists developing in an Anglo-American. In renaissance Great Britain, Roman Catholicism was the political and military enemy, as well as the religious enemy.

    Chick and those like him are also hostile to “mainline” denominations, particularly those with liberal theology. While they wouldn’t blame the holocaust on mainline liberals, they would have plenty to say about the decline in western culture, and how liberal theology is responsible for it.

    But Chick and Co. mostly focus on denomonations that have Anglo-American roots when they criticize other protestants; there has been contention between them for centuries.

    But you rarely hear anything from hardshell Baptists about Lutheranism, and even less about Eastern Orthodoxy. I have sometimes heard Luther spoken of positively because of his part in the Reformation, and because of his doctrine of justification by faith alone. I have occasionally heard hardshell Baptists attack Luther when one of them reads something he wrote, but they don’t seem to do that very often.

  • kerner

    Bike Bubba @ 6:

    You’re right about melodrama being Chick’s big problem. And I haven’t seen anything per se anti-Lutheran in a Chick publication either.

    I think hard shell Baptists like Chick rarely have anything to say about Lutheranism. I don’t know if they just haven’t noticed us, or if they just haven’t figured us out.

    This is just a guess, but I think it might have something to do with contemporary Baptists developing in an Anglo-American. In renaissance Great Britain, Roman Catholicism was the political and military enemy, as well as the religious enemy.

    Chick and those like him are also hostile to “mainline” denominations, particularly those with liberal theology. While they wouldn’t blame the holocaust on mainline liberals, they would have plenty to say about the decline in western culture, and how liberal theology is responsible for it.

    But Chick and Co. mostly focus on denomonations that have Anglo-American roots when they criticize other protestants; there has been contention between them for centuries.

    But you rarely hear anything from hardshell Baptists about Lutheranism, and even less about Eastern Orthodoxy. I have sometimes heard Luther spoken of positively because of his part in the Reformation, and because of his doctrine of justification by faith alone. I have occasionally heard hardshell Baptists attack Luther when one of them reads something he wrote, but they don’t seem to do that very often.

  • DonS

    I remember Chick tracts from my youth, and I recall them making quite an impact on me. Yes, they’re melodramatic, but so were Christ’s parables. They have their place if they serve to get the attention of a busy pagan and cause them to at least consider their eternal destiny and the claims of Christ.

  • DonS

    I remember Chick tracts from my youth, and I recall them making quite an impact on me. Yes, they’re melodramatic, but so were Christ’s parables. They have their place if they serve to get the attention of a busy pagan and cause them to at least consider their eternal destiny and the claims of Christ.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Regarding why Baptists don’t generally pick on Lutherans; we greatly respect the work of Luther, even if we don’t agree on every point of theology. At least the evangelical/fundamental wings of Baptists do. I can’t speak for either the more liberal (American Baptists) or KJV-only/landmark movements.

    Or, put in a fun way, Baptists can relate to a guy who tells off the Pope. :^)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Regarding why Baptists don’t generally pick on Lutherans; we greatly respect the work of Luther, even if we don’t agree on every point of theology. At least the evangelical/fundamental wings of Baptists do. I can’t speak for either the more liberal (American Baptists) or KJV-only/landmark movements.

    Or, put in a fun way, Baptists can relate to a guy who tells off the Pope. :^)

  • http://tilling.tumblr.com Tickletext

    I saw a rather tragicomical documentary about Chick Tracts on the Documentary Channel some time ago. It has some very funny moments as it explores the Chick subculture. Amazingly, Chick has something of a following as an underground cartoonist. Same with some of the other Chick artists.

    A quick search reveals that the film is available to watch in its entirety here.

  • http://tilling.tumblr.com Tickletext

    I saw a rather tragicomical documentary about Chick Tracts on the Documentary Channel some time ago. It has some very funny moments as it explores the Chick subculture. Amazingly, Chick has something of a following as an underground cartoonist. Same with some of the other Chick artists.

    A quick search reveals that the film is available to watch in its entirety here.

  • Jack Kilcrease

    Dr. Veith, yes, I think that is correct. He claims that the “death cookie” (the belief in the real presence) comes from the ritual eating of the god Osiris in ancient Egypt. He claims that the letter IHS on RC hosts in fact mean “Isis, Horus, Seth” the names of Egyptian gods. My wife tells me this was a common belief among 19th century British evangelicals.

    Read the track here:
    http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0074/0074_01.asp

    It gives an absurd description of the Reformation as some person randomly dusting off a book (the Bible I guess, since aparently no one read the Bible in the Middle Ages!) and coming to recognize that the Pope (who is shown consorting with the Devil earlier) has fooled them into believing in the real presence. No Luther and Zwingli, just historical absurdity.

  • Jack Kilcrease

    Dr. Veith, yes, I think that is correct. He claims that the “death cookie” (the belief in the real presence) comes from the ritual eating of the god Osiris in ancient Egypt. He claims that the letter IHS on RC hosts in fact mean “Isis, Horus, Seth” the names of Egyptian gods. My wife tells me this was a common belief among 19th century British evangelicals.

    Read the track here:
    http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0074/0074_01.asp

    It gives an absurd description of the Reformation as some person randomly dusting off a book (the Bible I guess, since aparently no one read the Bible in the Middle Ages!) and coming to recognize that the Pope (who is shown consorting with the Devil earlier) has fooled them into believing in the real presence. No Luther and Zwingli, just historical absurdity.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh, are those Jack Chick comics meant to be used as tracts? I thought they were mainly used to line dirty downtown streets.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh, are those Jack Chick comics meant to be used as tracts? I thought they were mainly used to line dirty downtown streets.

  • Kelly

    We got a Chick tract on our lawn not long ago, possibly from the Independent Baptist church in town (the rest of the churches are all Mennonite). It was of the daft sort where a Catholic priest is contemplating suicide because he *knows* he’s misleading people; then some dude comes to rescue him and explains all of the evil (and highly inaccurate) origins of all Catholic practices and beliefs. It’s likely we got this tract because my husband is a Lutheran pastor who wears a clerical collar. Maybe the reason groups who use these tracts don’t have much to say to Lutheranism is because they assume we’re all crypto-Catholics anyway. Such certainly seemed to be the case with one of my former pastors down south.

    Lutheran criticism of the RCC can be harsh, but it doesn’t follow the same lines as Chick tracts.

  • Kelly

    We got a Chick tract on our lawn not long ago, possibly from the Independent Baptist church in town (the rest of the churches are all Mennonite). It was of the daft sort where a Catholic priest is contemplating suicide because he *knows* he’s misleading people; then some dude comes to rescue him and explains all of the evil (and highly inaccurate) origins of all Catholic practices and beliefs. It’s likely we got this tract because my husband is a Lutheran pastor who wears a clerical collar. Maybe the reason groups who use these tracts don’t have much to say to Lutheranism is because they assume we’re all crypto-Catholics anyway. Such certainly seemed to be the case with one of my former pastors down south.

    Lutheran criticism of the RCC can be harsh, but it doesn’t follow the same lines as Chick tracts.

  • Booklover

    These tracts remind me of a horrifying episode I once heard on the radio of “Left Behind.” It was for children. :-( Fiction, but pretending not to be.

  • Booklover

    These tracts remind me of a horrifying episode I once heard on the radio of “Left Behind.” It was for children. :-( Fiction, but pretending not to be.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    Cartoons are powerful communication devices. They seem to be much better for polemics, though, than constructive work. Also, while the parables do pack a punch, the pictures they offer are almost always non-literal. Chick seems to know exactly what everything will look like. This shift from non-literal to literal involves a change in type of meaning that many will likely not notice. It trains those who read to make very direct translations of Bible accounts into pictures of the future that offer little by way of alternative visions. The Bible accounts themselves, though, even when taken seriously, can be pictured innumerable ways.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    Cartoons are powerful communication devices. They seem to be much better for polemics, though, than constructive work. Also, while the parables do pack a punch, the pictures they offer are almost always non-literal. Chick seems to know exactly what everything will look like. This shift from non-literal to literal involves a change in type of meaning that many will likely not notice. It trains those who read to make very direct translations of Bible accounts into pictures of the future that offer little by way of alternative visions. The Bible accounts themselves, though, even when taken seriously, can be pictured innumerable ways.

  • kerner

    DonS:

    good to hear from you, amigo. It has been awhile.

  • kerner

    DonS:

    good to hear from you, amigo. It has been awhile.

  • fws

    #15

    interesting comment rick. as usual :)

  • fws

    #15

    interesting comment rick. as usual :)

  • wayne pelling

    I can remember as a 16 year old on a mission to a town in the Australian Outback,handing out Chick publications to Aborigines

  • wayne pelling

    I can remember as a 16 year old on a mission to a town in the Australian Outback,handing out Chick publications to Aborigines

  • katy

    A late poster here, but after reading all this I immediately

    1) called my mom to ask if she still had some Chick tracts somewhere (I remember reading them all when I was around 11, behind my parents’ bedroom door. I wasn’t allowed to read them, but they had the same appeal as my parents’ Human Sexuality book in their closet(#5)

    2) watched that documentary mentioned in #10 with my husband. He liked it, but I convinced him it could have been better. They should have had a Christian critical of Chick Tracts, someone who could separate the false doctrine (or conspiracy theory mania) from the Truth. They should have at least talked–if in passing–about the core of Christianity, Christ’s forensic atonement, which I believe was quite explicitly communicated in This Is Your Life and other tracts. Perhaps this is Chick’s fault for not communicating it in EVERY TRACT, and instead focusing on various bad guys (papists, occultists, homosexuals, demons, etc.). And my husband thought they should have had someone on who had become a Christian because of a Chick tract (I know about the low rate of success with religious tracts, but they could have found someone who started thinking about heavenly things because of one of these tracts).

    It’s too easy to have a professional scoffer make fun of Chick.

    Best parts: 1)interview with Carter and 2)the almost unanimous protest by the interviewees against the tracts that suggest that the bigger sinner who repents at his deathbed is saved, while the kind skeptic goes to hell. The idea that “what you do does not really matter in the end.” I believe tons of discussion can be found on the internet surrounding the tract where a pedophile repents and receives forgiveness. The cross is offensive, and contrary to everything we humans think is just.

    Anyways, that seemed to be one point for Chick; at least he communicated the sufficiency and efficacy of God’s grace in a few of his tracts.

    Anyone else see the documentary? Any other reactions?

  • katy

    A late poster here, but after reading all this I immediately

    1) called my mom to ask if she still had some Chick tracts somewhere (I remember reading them all when I was around 11, behind my parents’ bedroom door. I wasn’t allowed to read them, but they had the same appeal as my parents’ Human Sexuality book in their closet(#5)

    2) watched that documentary mentioned in #10 with my husband. He liked it, but I convinced him it could have been better. They should have had a Christian critical of Chick Tracts, someone who could separate the false doctrine (or conspiracy theory mania) from the Truth. They should have at least talked–if in passing–about the core of Christianity, Christ’s forensic atonement, which I believe was quite explicitly communicated in This Is Your Life and other tracts. Perhaps this is Chick’s fault for not communicating it in EVERY TRACT, and instead focusing on various bad guys (papists, occultists, homosexuals, demons, etc.). And my husband thought they should have had someone on who had become a Christian because of a Chick tract (I know about the low rate of success with religious tracts, but they could have found someone who started thinking about heavenly things because of one of these tracts).

    It’s too easy to have a professional scoffer make fun of Chick.

    Best parts: 1)interview with Carter and 2)the almost unanimous protest by the interviewees against the tracts that suggest that the bigger sinner who repents at his deathbed is saved, while the kind skeptic goes to hell. The idea that “what you do does not really matter in the end.” I believe tons of discussion can be found on the internet surrounding the tract where a pedophile repents and receives forgiveness. The cross is offensive, and contrary to everything we humans think is just.

    Anyways, that seemed to be one point for Chick; at least he communicated the sufficiency and efficacy of God’s grace in a few of his tracts.

    Anyone else see the documentary? Any other reactions?


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