I agree that much of what Jack T. Chick has done is vicious toward Catholics especially.
But I want to tell my story of my personal encounter with Jack T. Chick. I think it’s important that we all remember that he is a human soul, not some kind of monster with a “kick me Catholics” sign taped to his butt.
I grew up as a Conference Baptist (evangelical Protestant).
When I was twelve years old, I loved the television show Dark Shadows, along with millions of other children in the United States. It was a feast for the imagination! My mother loved it, too, BTW, so I wasn’t being a “bad child” to watch it.
Around that time, Jack T. Chick came out with a tract called “Bewitched.” I was shocked to see that on the first page, the devil was watching his favorite television show–you’ve guessed it–Dark Shadows!
I sat down and wrote a thirteen-page letter, in longhand (cursive handwriting) on notebook paper to Mr. Chick, explaining why I, as a young Christian, believed that Dark Shadows would NOT be a show that the devil watched.
I won’t go into all the details, but basically, my arguments revolved around the point that Dark Shadows accurately portrayed good as good and evil as evil, and didn’t try to blur the lines.
I still use this argument when trying to determine the redeeming value of a work of art today.
A few weeks after I wrote Mr. Chick, I received a very nice letter back from him, in long-hand, thanking me for my “missal” and assuring me that he had made a mistake in putting Dark Shadows in the tract. He had meant to use the show Bewitched instead (which, IMO, did blur the lines between good and evil), but his wife had convinced him that Bewitched was so popular that he would cause a lot of controversy if he implied that the devil liked the show. So he decided to go with Dark Shadows which seemed to be more overtly occult.
But then he was barraged from all sides by many others, including his own secretary, who felt as I did, that Dark Shadows was a very good show that portrayed an accurate, although imaginative view, of good and evil, and didn’t glorify the occult or encourage involvement with the occult.
SO–Mr. Chick told me that he was planning on changing his tract, so that the devil’s television show would be Bewitched instead of Dark Shadows.
And he did so!
Although I think you can still find editions of the tract, “Bewitched” that show Dark Shadows, you will also find editions that show Bewitched on the devil’s tv screen.
Mr. Chick continued to correspond with me for a few more months, and then both of us lost track of each other.
He sent me copies of all his tracts and several of his books. That doesn’t sound like a big deal nowadays, but back then, the average allowance for a kid like me was a quarter a week. So getting all those books and tracts for free was a wonderful gift!
And he said I was a good writer. A lot of people have told me that over the years. But he was the first “published” writer, the first “famous” person to tell me that I was a good writer.
It was immensely encouraging to me as a gangly teenager. The next year, I went to middle school and ended up winning many writing awards in my school and in my city.
It’s amazing how an adult’s encouraging words and compliments can lift up a child.
I continued to buy his tracts and books while I was young. During these years, his tracts were not anti-Catholic, but mainly dealt with salvation, End Times, and other doctrines. It wasn’t Catholic theology, but it wasn’t anti-Catholic either.
I still think his tract, “Somebody Loves Me,” is one of the best tracts ever written, and I believe even the most traditional of Catholics would like it. It’s incredibly touching and well-drawn, too. No dialogue.
During this time (the 1970s), Jack T. Chick was respected by evangelicals. He made speaking appearances at churches and conferences and was accepted by evangelicals as a peer–a more colorful peer, perhaps, than the usual missionaries and teachers who didn’t use comic books!–but a peer, nonetheless.
Continued on next post