I just… I don’t know where to start with this.
Today I’m taking a look at a Chick Tract that a friend of mine recommended. He billed it as Hitler Youth crossed with roving abortion squads, though once he found and linked me to it, we were both disappointed that there were actually no abortion squads in sight. That doesn’t change the fact that this is the most absurd thing I’ve read to date.
This tract is titled The Last Generation, and it’s an apocalypse story (my favorite!) that’s set in the “near future”, which is apparently some time after 1992. As you may expect, this is a story about the Rapture, complete with all the trappings of things that are going to happen very soon that will signal the end of the world as it descends into madness and a full-blown hate-on for Christianity. Fred Clark over at Slacktivist has many words that he can share regarding the problems with this kind of thinking (my personal favorite is the fact that these narratives have been prominent in popular culture since the ’70s and forty years later we’re still waiting for the very soon).
Anyway, this is the story of a family of Christians who find themselves having to go into hiding after the World Government declares Christianity illegal and the youngest son, a kid who’s probably supposed to be around 10, rats them out to get “a big reward.”
I’m not entirely sure what the reward’s supposed to be, but I imagine a lifetime’s supply of pixie sticks.
There are so many things wrong with what’s going on in this story. Bobby, the horrible child, who his own family calls a monster (that’s showing some real Christian charity there, folks) storms home after a day at school where he’s been ridiculed by his classmates because his parents are still married and straight. His teacher, an avowed witch, was telling them about how animals would make great sacrifices for Halloween. Also, apparently in his school they teach about reincarnation. Also, because he’s a brat, Bobby threatens to turn in his parents for child abuse when they tell him to go to bed.
Okay, let’s stop and take a look at those things in order, shall we?
The current political mood in America at large is that gay people should have equal access to the legal rights conferred by being in a marriage as recognized by the government. This has nothing to do with removing rights from straight people. If anything, the gay rights movement has been marriage affirming as it upholds that relationship model. There’s certainly nothing being said by gay rights activists that suggests they want straight people to become gay; that runs counter to the belief of many people that sexual orientation is biologically determined. Just as “ex-gay ministry” is a cruel attempt to stamp out a core part of a gay person’s identity, any sort of “ex-straight therapy” would be in the same vein.
Then there’s the talk about the teacher who’s sharing her religion in the classroom. Ironically, I find this believable, but only because in the context of the story Paganism is the dominant religion. It’s safe for the teacher to discuss her beliefs because her students share them. The same thing happens all the time in communities with a homogenous cultural background. As I’ve written before, the alarming thing about this behavior is that it creates feelings of isolation in minorities who find themselves in those homogenous communities (for another perspective, here’s an article I came across the other day discussing the same incident). Yes, what the teacher in the story is doing is awful, but it’s not for the reasons Chick wants us to think. He’s railing against the loss of Christian privilege in government spaces, and rationalizing this as something bad because he suspects other religions will move in and fill the hole. I don’t think he’s capable of considering that a negative religious space (meaning not a space that’s hostile to faith, but a space that refrains from endorsing any faith over another) might be a good thing for a diverse community. As a teacher who deals with a population of students who are almost entirely culturally Christian, I also understand that there’s an ethical prohibition on teaching about my faith in my capacity as a government educator. Though it doesn’t always feel like it, I serve my students as a mentor, and my personal opinions can have consequences on their development.
On a related note, the conceit in this story that there could possibly be a government endorsed world religion is absurd. The protection against such a thing, at least in America, is the Establishment Clause in our Constitution. It’s good that Christianity is not legally endorsed by the government. That maintains a precedent that protects against the nightmare scenario that Chick’s trying to scare us with here.
This tract is just exhausting. It runs rife with little nightmare images of hippies, drugs, scary men in ridiculous getups, and a jab at Catholicism in the very first panel (Chick is notoriously anti-Catholic). There’s too much here to criticize. When I first read this tract, I couldn’t help laughing at the sheer number of absurd concepts and leaps of logic that went into its writing. Really, it’s a far cry worse than Dark Dungeons, which focused on just one piece of pop culture to attack. Here, the assault feels overwhelming. I would laugh, but as I think more and more on it, I feel something more akin to pity that Chick lives in such a paranoid world where everything is out to get him.