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Opposing Views

More Anti-Chick comments by Keating


Below are specific excerpts about Jack Chick taken from Karl Keating's book, Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians." For someone who claims Chick is over hyped as a serious threat to Catholicism, Keating sure spends a lot of time and ink writing about him! (He complains more about Chick in another one of his books, The Usual Suspects.)

 

Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians." by Karl Keating

All of the following are copyright 1988 Ignatius Press, San Francisco. (Reproduced here under provisions of fair use for purposes of studying a public figure.)

 

p. 53-54 At the fringe, and therefore garnering the most publicity, are Tony Alamo and Jack Chick....Chick's is the outfit that publishes the Alberto comic books and pocket-sized booklets, also illustrated, that reveal secrets hidden even from Maria Monk. These two groups account for many column inches, but few conversions. They are the perfect bogeymen: frightening in visage, but essentially harmless. To be converted by them, one already has to be, mentally, a lost cause, the kind of person who would as likely support flat-Earthism or preach a diet of yak milk and powdered sparrow eggs.

 

p. 93 As uninformed and misinformed as [Jimmy] Swaggart is, he is no Jack Chick or Tony Alamo. He does not try to deceive. He thinks he is giving the whole story, and his facts, such as they are, are taken mainly from sources he trusts.

 

p. 96 (It may give one a feel for the reliability of these works to know that Brewer's [Bart Brewer's Pilgrimage from Rome] was published by Bob Jones University Press and Butterfield's [Clark Butterfield's Night Journey from Rome to the New Jerusalem] is distributed by the Antichrist Information Center, which is run by Alberto Rivera, the hero of Jack Chick's comic book Alberto.)

 

p. 119 Examples of fundamentalism's darkest side could be repeated without end. There is no need to examine dusty books or yellowed leaflets to find them. They exist in numbers that were unimaginable only a few years ago. For the most part, Catholics have little notion of the depth of anti-Catholic sentiment. The most fanatic of the anti-Catholics--people such as Chick, Rivera, and Alamo--work on a different level than do garden-variety fundamentalists. The latter do what they do because they seek the truth. They are willing to follow syllogisms to their conclusions, even though they have uncritically followed some badly premised syllogisms to get where they are. They think they have discovered religious truth, and what they have discovered impels them to share it with others and to do whatever is necessary to make others see what they see. Often they take liberties with the facts, although usually they are unconscious of doing so. To them, their arguments seem conclusive. They can discover no weaknesses--although, to be sure, they have not searched particularly hard for any.

 

p.107-115 "There has been a multi-million dollar campaign made through the media to convince people that I am a bigoted, anti-Catholic, hate-literature publisher," wrote Jack Chick in the introduction to Smokescreens. "And do you know something? They have been very effective in convincing people that this is what I am."

Apparently they have, whoever "they" are, because Jack Chick is generally regarded as the king of the anti-Catholic publishers. He has received more attention in the Catholic press since 1980 than all other professional anti-Catholics combined, and his rantings against the Church have inspired even Protestant publications, such as Christianity Today, to investigate his operation. His ideas are so perverse, his hate mongering so outlandish, that even some anti-Catholics shun him. If the average Catholic has heard anything about the recent revival of anti-Catholic prejudice, he has heard about Jack Chick.

Because of all the publicity, two things have happened. Chick and his chief assistant, Alberto Rivera (who claims to be a one-time Jesuit and bishop), have been given a prominence in the anti-Catholic movement they in fact do not have, their writings seeming to be more influential than they really are, and other anti-Catholic organizations--the ones that produce the converts to fundamentalism--have been ignored. It may be that in some Catholic publications Chick and Rivera have received more column inches than anyone other than the Pope. And they simply have not been worth it, because their barks are far out of proportion to their bites. They make good copy but few converts and nowhere near the converts one would expect from all the fireworks.

The other problem is that coverage of them has meant coverage of other anti-Catholic organizations has been shallow. While full-page articles have been devoted to Chick Publications' comics, in most Catholic papers only passing comments have been given to the organizations that really have been dragging Catholics out of the Church and into fundamentalism. Chick and Rivera have thrown something of a shadow across the fundamentalist landscape, and it is sometimes hard to realize there are other groups lurking in the bushes. One reason for this is that Chick has sought publicity as though he were running for office, while most professional anti-Catholics quietly go about their work, making no effort to grab headlines. They want converts, not notoriety. To seek the public eye is to put oneself on the spot.

It is one thing to make strange claims about the Catholic religion, but something else to find yourself having to support the claims with facts and rational arguments, which you might have to do if you shout too loudly. So most fundamentalists are reserved. They push their ideas, but avoid confrontations that force them to debate. Only when they think they are up against ill-informed papists (and no one else) do they open their satchels, drag out a Bible, and ask, "How does this square with that the Catholic Church says?" But Chick does not worry about having his arguments fall flat because he does not argue. He just, well, pontificates and then ignores challenges to fight.

None of this means Chick is not worth covering. He is. His colorful comic books and pocket-sized tracts have been widely distributed, and some Catholics, particularly impressionable teenagers and young adults, have accepted his notions and left the Barque of Peter at the first port of call. But most people influenced by Chick have been opposed to Catholicism all along and never gave any allegiance to Rome. Chick's materials merely heighten their native bigotry and give them the satisfaction of knowing that their prejudices are, in some circles, socially acceptable. After all, here is someone much more prejudiced than they, someone who has achieved a measure of notoriety, someone who has put the enemy on the defensive, and he seems to be doing quite well, thank you.

Chick's literature would be unimportant, quite unworthy of the sustained treatment it has received in the Catholic press, if his were the only anti-Catholic organization in the nation. There are few flat-Earthers, and no one pays them much heed. They would be worth examining, perhaps, if there were societies of oval-Earthers who received legitimacy because they could separate themselves in the public mind from those who think the world is shaped like a fat dish. Chick's very existence makes all the other anti-Catholic groups look moderate, and they are therefore more influential than they otherwise would be. Fundamentalists who are squeamish about supporting all of Chick's theories owe him a vote of thanks; he makes them look good.

It is similar to the big lie technique. Most people, even most with an ingrained prejudice against the Church, realize the comic books are grotesqueries. They seem to say, "We acknowledge Jack Chick is overzealous; we admit that. But his zealotry only demonstrates that what Mission to Catholics, the Conversion Center, and Jimmy Swaggart say must be accurate. These other evangelists have eliminated Chick's infelicities, and what we are left with is the unvarnished truth." It is this kind of thinking that makes Chick's work important.


NEW! (added 12/10/01) ADDITIONAL KEATING COMMENTS reprinted from the same source...

 

He first gained notoriety with the publication of the comic book Alberto in 1979. This is Alberto Rivera's story or so it is claimed. The thirty-two pages are well illustrated, in the style of Marvel Comics. The drawings are detailed, even explicit, making no effort to leave the reader wondering. The story begins in Spain in 1942. The first few pages recount the last hours of Alberto's mother. The young Alberto is shown at her deathbed. The priest in attendance tells him "your mother has not only received the sacraments, but special indulgences by the pope, our Holy Father". It thus should be an easy death, but not so. The next box shows her last moments. She sees "horrible monsters coming at me!!" Hands raised to keep the visions at bay, she cries, "Don't you see them? They want to put me in the fire! They want to get me, Alberto! I don't want to die and go there!" But, of course, she does die, and she does go there, even though we are told her family knew she was a saint. "To my knowledge," said her husband, "she never missed going to Mass." Alberto, not comforted by the priest, thinks, "It's all a lie! The sacraments didn't help my mother. . . . The Church didn't help her when she needed help and comfort." Despite his disillusionment, Alberto becomes a priest.

We next see him, now "Dr." Alberto Rivera, in San Diego in 1979. Mysteriously run off the freeway by some enemy, he finds temporary refuge through a friend and begins to recount his story, beginning with the true nature of the Church. The tale is familiar to anyone who has read Maria Monk's revelations. In Spain, for instance, convents and monasteries are connected by tunnels; along the passages are chambers where the bodies of illicitly conceived (and quickly murdered) infants are buried. The Pope does not actually run the Church; the real ruler is the Jesuit General. The tortures of the Inquisition are recounted in glorious, dripping color. And so forth.

Rivera was trained from youth, he says, to infiltrate and subvert Protestantism. The denominations assigned to him were the Plymouth Brethren, Pentecostal, Baptist, and United Evangelical. He was fabulously successful and was rewarded by secretly being made a bishop. His credentials are demonstrated through a photograph of what purports to be an identification card issued by the Spanish government. His photograph (he is wearing a Roman collar) seems to have been superimposed over the card. The reader is also shown "a copy of the last official certification given to me just before I left Spain in 1967". Investigations by Christianity Today and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights confirmed that neither the Diocese of Madrid, where Rivera claims to have been a priest, nor the Jesuits have any record of him, but what can one expect from papist conspirators?

Alberto was followed by Double-Cross, a recounting of Rivera's further exploits, particularly the rescue of his sister from the clutches of rapacious nuns (her escape from the convent seems to have been modeled closely on Maria Monk's) and Rivera's flight from hit squads sent after him by the Vatican. The reader is regaled with a photograph of Kathryn Kuhlman meeting Paul VI and a drawing of Jimmy Carter meeting John Paul II. These well-known Christians were in cahoots with Rome. And so was someone else: Jim Jones turns out to have been a Jesuit who did himself in, along with his followers, in fulfillment of his Jesuit oath.

Later additions to the Chick Publications library include The Godfathers, which demonstrates that the Catholic Church is the "Mother of Abominations" referred to in Revelation 17; The Force, "a prophetical study revealing the occult side of the Whore of Revelation"; and The Big Betrayal, based on Charles Chiniquy's 50 Years in the Church of Rome, which demonstrates that the Church arranged Abraham Lincoln's assassination. If something meatier than comics is wanted, the reader can turn to Chick Publications' illustrated catalogue and order books such as The Two Babylons, another nineteenth-century pot boiler; Night Journey from Rome to the New Jerusalem, by Clark Butterfield, allegedly an ex-priest; The Vatican-Moscow-Washington Alliance, by longtime Catholic-baiter Avro Manhattan; or even The Secret History of the Jesuits, which "boldly exposes the Vatican's involvement in world politics, intrigues, and the fomenting of wars throughout history."

Then there is Smokescreens. This ninety-three-pager is actually a transcript of a cassette the author made. He markets it by saying that the reader gets not only the words of the cassette, but revealing photographs as well. "what you are going to read in this book is absolutely devastating." He explains that "we believe at Chick Publications that the Whore of Revelation is the Roman Catholic Institution", and he names such Protestant lights as Luther, Calvin, Knox, and, in more recent years, Moody and Spurgeon as agreeing with this conclusion. The title of the book comes from the smokescreens the Jesuits have set to make people think the Whore of Revelation is something that will come in the distant future, not something that is present today and headquartered in the Vatican.

There follow several short chapters: one on "The Wafer-God", another looking at the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, a third on the way Croatian Catholics supposedly backed the Nazis.

Then come chapters on the application of Revelation 17 to the Church, the way Catholics have secretly gained influence through the television shows of supposedly Protestant evangelists, and the Vatican's long-term plans for conquest.

Next comes self-congratulation. Chick explains how brave he was to publish Alberto Rivera's story. "When it finally dawned on me that we were being set up for another inquisition, I realized what a mess I'd be in if I sounded the alarm and the Christians wouldn't believe it. I could lose our business, our reputation and friends. If I printed Alberto's story, I would be going into a battle that would jeopardize my family and my own life." But he knew what to do. "I went before the Lord in prayer and the thing I dreaded came to pass. I asked the Lord if I should attack the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. Should I attack the Vatican? The Lord said yes. And so we published Alberto." Although he followed the Lord's explicit directions, Chick didn't get the backing he expected from other fundamentalists. He said of one, "Here is a man I used to pray for. But no longer. The Lord stopped me"the same Lord, apparently, who instructed his followers to love their enemies, even their former accomplices. "When the heat came on Chick Publications for what we were doing, I was amazed. It all came through the same group. There seemed to be a link between all these men who are promoting the story that Alberto is a fraud." He cites the stories in Christianity Today, Cornerstone (a magazine appealing to young evangelicals), and Our Sunday Visitor.

Then he demonstrates there is no honor among professional anti-Catholics. He attacks Bill Jackson of Christians Evangelizing Catholics and Bart Brewer, head of Mission to Catholics. "Both of these men are supposed to be operating ministries to Catholics. And yet, they're going around to churches trying to destroy our credibility." Well, not quite. Brewer, for instance, noted in his newsletter, Challenger, that he has been asked often about Alberto Rivera's credibility, and he would neither support nor disavow either Rivera or Jack Chick. On this matter he took the agnostic position.

After Jack Chick got the publicity he so ardently sought, he had to go it alone. Not entirely alone, perhaps, for he still had Alberto Rivera, who could tell him about the "blueprint for Catholic America", something he was briefed on when a Jesuit. It went all the way to the time of the Pilgrims. Remember those people leaving Europe for America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, seeking religious freedom, people such as the Pilgrims? All Protestants? Hardly. Among them were numerous papists from England, Ireland, and France. "These were plants", Rivera told Chick. "The Jesuits made sure this part of our history was erased and removed." Once the fifth column was in place, its task was to "destroy or control all the Christian schools across America. Throughout the years, Jesuits, working undercover, have gotten into special committees on school boards to remove the emphasis on the Bible and replace it with psychology as found in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola." They transformed public schools into Ignatian retreats. After the schools came the judiciary, then politics, then the military and newspapers. "Even back in the time of Lincoln over half the newspapers in the United States were controlled by the Vatican."

Chick asked Rivera, "How Catholic is our military position?"

"Horrifying", said Rivera.

"I then asked about the political picture."

"It is even worse."

"Then I said: What about the Catholic structure of the judiciary?"

"It is very painful because of the heavy Jesuit penetration of this area", said Rivera.

"Is this preparing the way for the coming inquisition?" asked Chick.

"That's correct", replied Rivera. "First for anarchy. We were briefed that after all these years of penetration and infiltration, what was needed was riots and anarchy in order to finally take over. By the time the Roman Catholic Institution is ready to take over politically, militarily, educationally, and religiously, that means they will have some legal basis to do so."

Is there any hope? wondered Chick. Yes, said Rivera, but only if Chick Publications' materials are distributed even more widely. The United States, conveniently enough, is where the prophecies of the Last Days will be fulfilled, and the ground has to be prepared. "If it were not for the publications we printed, we would be in a different situation today."

Time grows short. Protestant pastors have to be on guard; all the worst things they have heard about Catholics are true. Those are Catholic eyes staring at them in the night. "I was recently told", recounts Chick, "that in 1949 an ex-Jesuit priest told a Rev. Eubanks in California that when the Vatican takes control of the United States, every pastor and his family will be shot in the head." And if that is not convincing, what is? What further proof is needed, save perhaps the name of the man who recently told all this to Chick? It should be enough to know that "the Jesuits, the Illuminati, the Opus Dei, and the Masons" are the real makers of smokescreens. One need only keep his eyes open.

Many Catholics have been doing just that, keeping them open and on Jack Chick and Alberto Rivera. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has reported on Chick Publications since at least 1981, and Our Sunday Visitor and The National Catholic Register have run articles, short and long, about the duo. Chick no doubt has made a tidy sum in distributing his dozens of comics, books, and tracts. Rivera is in some small demand as a speaker and no doubt finds it profitable to play on fears of uninformed Protestants. He operates what he calls the Antichrist Information Center and is available for public talks.

Although most anti-Catholic organizations will not have anything to do with Jack Chick, Chick Publications, or Alberto Rivera, there is one that will. End Time Books, part of the Holy Alamo Christian Church, Consecrated, offers for sale the cassette version of Smokescreens. Also for sale are other books advertised by Chick: Edmond Paris' The Secret History of the Jesuits, Avro Manhattan's The Vatican-Moscow-Washington Alliance, and Charles Chiniquy's The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional. . . .

(Ed. Note: Keating then talks about Tony Alamo and Alamo's version of Catholic conspiracy history in The Pope's Secrets, "an eight page, closely spaced explanation of the Vatican's shenanigans.")

There is no reason to recount each of the tales in this flyer. The author demonstrates an active imagination, one that takes him far beyond what even Alberto Rivera has been able to concoct. Rivera, for instance, was unable to discover the "liquor and wine slave labor camps" run by the Christian Brothers and other religious orders that "unlawfully use free labor (thousands of Roman Catholic monks)". . . .

If there is any anti-Catholic propaganda that needs to be ignored rather than opposed, it is Tony Alamo's. His efforts are so extreme they make extremists look moderate. So why not ignore him entirely? Because, like Alberto Rivera and his comic books, this is another example of a fanatic making run-of-the-mill anti-Catholics look good. The public is always willing to accept someone or some organization that appeals to its unrespectable prejudices if it can, at the same time, reject propagandists at the fringe. Alamo may have hornswoggled enough people to work for him for free that he is now a wealthy man, but he really has no substantial following, nor do his ideas.

The work of Chick, Rivera, and Alamo as point men of fundamentalist anti-Catholicism legitimizes Mission to Catholics, the Conversion Center, and the other "moderate" anti-Catholic organizations. The three have allowed the groups that effect conversions to appear reasonable and respectable by distancing themselves from their foolishness. "Moderate" anti-Catholics are seen as making the necessary distinctions, as thinking the questions through carefully, which is nonsense, but convenient nonsense. . . .

Examples of fundamentalism's darkest side could be repeated without end. There is no need to examine dusty books or yellowed leaflets to find them. They exist in numbers that were unimaginable only a few years ago. For the most part, Catholics have little notion of the depth of anti-Catholic sentiment. The most fanatic of the anti-Catholic people such as Chick, Rivera, and Alamo work on a different level than do garden-variety fundamentalists. The latter do what they do because they seek the truth. They are willing to follow syllogisms to their conclusions, even though they have uncritically followed some badly premised syllogisms to get where they are. They think they have discovered religious truth, and what they have discovered impels them to share it with others and to do whatever is necessary to make others see what they see. Often they take liberties with the facts, although usually they are unconscious of doing so. To them, their arguments seem conclusive. They can discover no weaknesses although, to be sure, they have not searched particularly hard for any.

 

For more Anti-Chick comments, gleaned from another Keating book, The Usual Suspects, go here.

Rev. 12.10.01



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