Up to this point in my ongoing critique of Chick tracts, I’ve been careful to avoid any of the tracts that directly attack other non-Protestant religions. I consider myself a Protestant, and that’s the faith tradition that I’m most well-versed in, so when it comes to Chick’s anti-Catholicism or anti-Islam tracts, I feel like I’m a little bit in over my head (mostly because refuting Chick’s claims with facts would take some serious research on my part, and as I was always fond of saying in undergrad, I hate doing research). Keeping that in mind, I’m going to jump into a doozy of one today.
So this week’s tract is called Mama’s Girls, and it doesn’t tell a story so much as explain some Chick-world history wherein Catholicism was founded by Satan and is (secretly, of course) the driving force behind several religious and ideological movements that have threatened True Christianity. The metaphor Chick chooses to employ in this tract is taken from an image that John uses in Revelation to describe Babylon (a common stand-in in Jewish literature following the Babylonian Exile for whatever oppressive force the author actually wanted to rail against–in this case it was the Roman Empire), where he characterizes it as a prostitute who has written on her head “The Mother of Prostitutes.” Chick takes this passage and decides that it’s appropriate to personify the Roman Catholic Church as a whore who has numerous (female) children who are also all destructive and dangerous to Christianity.
I should stop here and point out that it’s seriously problematic to personify anything you find systematically dangerous as a seductive female. I know that Chick’s just running with the image from Revelation, but that’s a literary convention from two thousand years ago. In our present time, I don’t think it’s necessary or appropriate to perpetuate tropes like the seductive female as part of any kind of social commentary. Chick obviously disagrees with me.
Anyway, after some expository panels that explain how the Catholic Church was founded by Satan following Jesus’ crucifixion as a way of countering the burgeoning Christian movement (I’m no early Church historian, but I’m pretty sure the sponsoring of the Church by Constantine, while theologically complicated, was not an event that really impeded the spread of the gospel of Jesus) we’re introduced to Catholicism’s “firstborn,” Islam.
No, I don’t know how Islam is supposed to have been secretly established by a Catholic conspiracy to help them take control of Jerusalem away from Jews and Christians. Perhaps if I were to read what’s surely a highly respected, peer-reviewed scholarly text like the one that’s referenced in the footnotes of this tract I could better understand the argument here (no, actually it’s a comic book that Chick Publications put out themselves).
You know what? I’m done. I don’t think any criticism I could offer about factual inaccuracies in this tract will top this single salient point: where I’ve been operating under the assumption for months now that when I saw those footnotes in Chick tracts where they referenced their own publications, it was always at least a book that attempted to look like it was based in serious research, I have now found that actually those are just comic books the company produces. Yeah, I can’t go anywhere else with that. I think it’s time I wrap this feature up and move on to something else.
Nah, I’m gonna keep working with the Chick tracts, but now I’m going to laugh a lot more while I’m doing it. See you next time.