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Jack Chick Tract Club link

Chick Denouncers

(And they call Chick a hate-lit publisher?)


Medieval illustration from 1573 Spanish Inquisition


It's easy to label Jack Chick a fanatic. After all, he's a prolific writer/ publisher and has left a long paper trial of over 1/2 billion tracts! (Not to mention various books.) It's always open season on Fundamentalists, so all one has to do is start reading and objecting. The funny thing is, many of Jack's most ardent critics are radical fanatics themselves. Whether they're militant atheists or new age kooks or closet Jesuits, they all agree on one thing: They hate Jack Chick!

Tearing someone down doesn't take much talent, but how many of these stone tossers can stand up to the same examination? Most of them are not very literary, so exposing their own wacko beliefs is rather difficult. The only stuff they've written is bashing Jack! (Which is not much of an accomplishment.) But a few have left a paper trail of their own, and guess what it reveals? They can be even MORE FANATICAL than Chick!

Take Patrick Madrid for example. He's made a part-time career out of hassling Jack. Pat is a Catholic apologists who's written many books (Surprised by Truth, Surprised by Truth 2, and Any Friend of God's Is A Friend of Mine) promoting the Vatican and slamming critics like Jack. He's the Editor-in-chief of Envoy Magazine, a monthly Catholic magazine with a large international readership. He's also Senior Vice President of Missionaries of Faith Foundation. So he speaks with a certain amount of credibility for the Catholic community. I've read his criticisms of Jack in Surprised by Truth 2, and went as far as writing Pat a letter suggesting he was going overboard on his attacks. His reply, though courteous, did not back down one bit. He calls Jack an outright bigot. I figured "Whatever. People are entitled to their opinions even if they are wrong."

But then my sister gave me Pat's latest book (Pope Fiction) and insisted I read it. (She's a Catholic convert and agrees with most of Pat's views.) What I discovered was that many of Jack's paranoid accusations about Catholic dogma are true! And they are justified by none other than his outspoken critic, Patrick Madrid!

Here are a few choice quotes from the book showing that Chick was not nuts when he said the Catholic Church was unapologetic for the Inquisitions and suggested they might return in the future. (Chick acknowledges that these pro-Inquisition views are not necessarily held by the lay people, many of whom are totally unaware of it, but by Vatican officials-- and in this case, a prominent Catholic publisher!)

Madrid opens his discussion on the Inquisition in Chapter 24 (page 220) with a bold and blasphemous premise:

<<The Catholic Church did not "invent" the Inquisition. God Himself did. He imposed on Moses the duty of conducting an inquisition to ferret out and punish those Israelites who had defiled themselves by worshiping the false gods of pagans (cf Numbers 25). Similarly, a religious Inquisition was commanded by the Lord to be carried out on an ongoing, as needed, basis to "purge the evil from your midst" when there occurred crimes such as sorcery and idolatry, the "heresies" of the People of Israel.>>

Patrick comes right out and blames God for the Inquisition. He maintains that since Moses put people to death in Old Testament times, the Catholic Church had the DUTY to do so in New Testament times. Moreover (and this is the part which is REALLY shocking) Patrick clearly states that "a religious Inquisition was commanded by the Lord to be carried out on an ongoing, as needed, basis to purge evil (i.e., heresies)." In other words, not only were the previous Inquisitions justified, but so are FUTURE ones, because "the Lord commanded it to be carried out on an ongoing, as needed, basis".

So much for Chick's "paranoia" about future Inquisitions.

Never mind that this is the same "God told me to kill them all" excuse of mass murderers like Son of Sam. It's absolutely surreal to imagine a responsible writer and publisher of mainstream Catholic literature makes no distinction between the "eye for an eye" vengeance promoted in the Old Testament from the forgiveness and "love thy enemies" philosophy clearly espoused in the New Testament.

Am I taking something out of context? I think not. Patrick reemphasizes his thesis with the paragraphs immediately following the first.

<<God said:

<<If there is found among you, in any one of the communities which the Lord, your God, gives you, a man or a woman who does evil in the sight of the Lord, your God, and transgresses his covenant, by serving other gods, or by worshiping the sun or the moon or any of the host of the sky, against my command; and if, on being informed of it, you find by careful investigation that it is true and an established fact that this abomination has been committed in Israel, you shall bring the man (or woman) who has done the evil deed out to your city gates and stone him to death. The testimony of two or three witnesses is required for putting a person to death. No one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. (Deuteronomy 17:2-7).

<<We can see in that passage the essential elements of an inquisition: a) If there is reason to believe that a member of the community is secretly practicing false or heretical religion, you must punish him. b) You must "carefully investigate" the person under suspicion to verify if the charge is true. c) There must be a trial in which witnesses and testimony are brought forth. d) If the person is found to be guilty of this religious crime (i.e., whether guilt has been proved by the "established facts" of the case), the death penalty is to be imposed. And finally, e) this inquisition and punishment is meted out in order to protect the community from being contaminated by the contagion of idolatry and heresy.>>

Well! I guess it wasn't really murder then. The Vatican was only cutting out and eliminating the "contagion of heresy" when they killed fellow Christians (and misc. minorities). Hitler maintained he was also killing a cancer with the Holocaust. Maybe it's just a coincidence Adolf used the same language justifying his political inquisition as Patrick does in his papal version.

Patrick's central theme here is that as long as the trial is "fair" and two or more witnesses agree the person isn't a true Catholic, then "the death penalty is to be imposed". Is that supposed to be reassuring? (And to think many Catholics claimed John Ashcroft would be a dangerous Attorney General. Too bad Torquemada wasn't available. He would have been tough but fair!)

Now you probably think I'm leaving out important follow up sentences where Patrick explains that he doesn't mean any of these justifications to be used in present day or future purges. But alas, there is no such disclaimer. Instead, Patrick plows right ahead reinforcing his pro-inquisition viewpoint by saying that even Saint Augustine who originally opposed persecution of heretics changed his mind as he grew older.

And this is the same writer who calls Chick a bigot?

He can't bring himself to admit the Vatican did any wrong. At one point, he does refer to the Inquisitions as persecution, but not persecution by the Catholics...

From page 225:

<<Protestant settlers, such as the Pilgrims, wanted to get away from the Inquisitions and persecutions they suffered at the hands of other Protestants, especially those in England.>>

Tell me I'm dreaming. America was established by Pilgrims fleeing the PROTESTANT INQUISITION? Haw-haw-haw! Very careful examination of the sentence reveals the words "AND persecutions". So Patrick has left himself a subtle escape clause. Puritans left England to avoid discrimination, but to imply the main reason immigrants came to America was because they were fleeing for their lives from a Protestant Inquisition is maliciously misleading.

On page 227, Patrick uses the tried and true "everybody does it" defense that worked so well during the latest Impeachment debate.

<<The practice of punishing, even executing, heretics was not unique to Catholics during the era of the Inquisitions. Even the Protestants regularly meted out death sentences to their theological foes.">>

That's right Pat, and it was MURDER when Protestants retaliated, just as it was when the Vatican initiated the purges. Today's Protestants don't try to defend the Salem Witch Trials or Calvin's shenanigans as justifiable homicide. They were both political assassinations using religion as cover to conceal the crime. The executions weren't instigated by an official Protestant Church (who's general silence was damning enough), but even if they had been ordered by a Protestant equivalent of the Pope, Protestants would not defend such a murderer as "infallible".

Page 232. Now we really see the logic of lunacy:

<<In Spain at the time, were numerous "conversos": Muslim and Jewish converts to Christianity. The problem was that among the genuine converts there were those who continued to practice their old religions. Essentially, their alleged embrace of the Catholic Faith was a false one. For this reason, owing to the very real threat of internal collaboration with the invading Muslims, it became necessary to distinguish the true Catholics from the treasonous false Catholics. Being a "false" Catholic was a capital crime under Spanish law in those days.>>

So that makes it okay, eh? It was legal and the charge was treason, so killing the Muslims and Jews was justified? Let's see how this logic applies here at home. During the same time the Nazis were rounding up Jews (which was German law at the time), the United States was rounding up Japanese Americans and sending them to concentration camps in the mid-west. This was all legal, because new laws were passed making it so. It was war time, and a state has the right to defend itself, per Pat's argument. What's more, many of these "false Americans" were Shinto-- the Japanese religion which worships the Emperor of Japan (our sworn enemy) as a God. Obviously, this reaches Pat's standard of heresy and posed a "very real threat of internal collaboration with the invaders". Some of these Japanese were in fact spies. Many of them were Japanese sympathizers. It's a shame we didn't have Pat's insight to execute them all when we had the chance. Then we could have avoided paying them $4 billion in reparations a few decades later.

Taking this warped logic a step further, the US could have rounded up all the Catholics during WWII, because the Vatican was behind enemy lines and never publicly stated it was against Hitler's occupation of Europe. (And if the Pope wasn't publicly for us, he might have been privately against us. Any nation at war can't risk harboring enemy agents.) The insane possibilities are endless.

It only gets crazier from there. Patrick claims (page 236),

<<By the standards of the day, the court of the Inquisition was, in almost all instances, a very fair one.>>

You just don't get it, do you Pat? It doesn't matter if the process is fair when the crime is not. You can't rationally excuse throwing a Jew in jail by saying he was in fact "guilty" of being Jewish. It is the accuser who is guilty of a crime, not the accused.

Page 237:

<<Much is made about the executions carried out by the inquisition. This is a partial truth. First, the ecclesiastical officials executed no one. Rather, those found guilty were turned over to the civil officials, who then carried out their own punishments.>>

So Pontius Pilate didn't really execute Jesus, the soldiers did that. Then again, all they really did was pin him to a cross where he bled to death (so the Blacksmith who made the nails was actually to blame). Besides this absurd contention that the Church only "tried" the thought criminals and someone else did the killing, Patrick conveniently forgets to mention that it was the Church officials who were in charge of the torturing to extract the confessions. (Oops! A minor oversight.) He continues:

<<Second, contrary to popular myth, the number of executions was relatively low-- probably around two thousand.">>

The footnote reveals this radical revisionist estiment was not from the Encyclopedia (as others suggested) but from the Vatican ZENIT interview with Dr. Jose Ignacio Tellechea (a Jesuit?). To brush aside decades of published historical research in favor of one casual interview conducted by a biased (Vatican) news agentcy is crazy. To give a hint how absurd this estimate is, Spain executed 250 French protestants who refused to convert in 1564 alone... and that wasn't even in Europe! (It occurred here in America.)

Patrick compounds this problem by stating (page 238):

<<In order to kill fifty million (or thirty million, or twenty million), the Catholic Church would have had to have killed every single man, woman, and child in Europe and then imported millions more, just to kill them.>>

Once again, Patrick is acting like the "millions killed" occurred all at one time. It was spread out over 1,400 years. The world population multiplies at exponential rates. The 20th century started out with less than 1 billion and ended with 6 billion... despite 50 million killed in WWII alone, and millions more murdered by genocide throughout the century. Tens of millions died prematurely in Europe during the last two millennia, there is no doubt about that. How many were killed by the plague, the wars (and crusades), and religious persecution is the part being debated.

Page 238 attempts to put torture "into perspective".

<<While it is true that torture was used in some instances,>>

(Some? Try "many".)

<<critics forget that whether we moderns like it or not, torture was an accepted practice in medieval society. We need to maintain a sense of perspective here. We recoil from the idea of torture (as well we should), but even in the Unites States, until recently, torture was an accepted form of interrogation used by law enforcement officers on uncooperative suspects. Colloquial American phrases such as giving someone the "third degree" or the "rubbers hose treatment" stem from actual fact of violent interrogation methods used by police offices. This kind of "torture" was legal in this country until just a few decades ago.>>

Torture was never legal in the United States. On the contrary, it is specifically outlawed in the Constitution as "cruel and unusual" punishment. American policemen who resorted to torture were committing criminal acts in the past, just as they are if they do it today. Recent headlines have shown several Policemen going to jail for this crime. What changed a few decades ago wasn't the rules outlawing torture, but rather, the enforcement of existing law.

Even so, to compare the Catholic Church to corrupt cops doesn't seem to buy much respectability. It is the Vatican that claims to hold moral authority over society and the Pope who claims to be infallible. The police claim neither.

Get a load of page 239:

<<There were some good things to come out of the inquisition. First, it did uncover numerous pseudo-Catholics-- individuals who were masquerading as members of the Church in order to disrupt it from within... Additionally, the Inquisition provided a sober, generally fair legal system. In fact, as Carroll points out, "the Inquisition was one of the fairest, most honest courts in Spain. Men preferred to have their cases brought before it wherever possible, or transferred to it from other tribunals.">>

That's right boys and girls, it was a GOOD thing that non-Catholics were executed. (Those were the good ol' days, right Pat?) And the Inquisition was so fair and honest, that men preferred to have their cases brought before it.

Notice that "men" doesn't say how many. Was it a few or "most"? Consider the following statement: Jews were appreciative of the free medical treatment they received from accomplished Nazi doctor Joseph Mengela. The statement is true, because Megela was an accomplished doctor, his prisoner practice was free, and he cured some Jews of disease (a very few). Those fortunate few were no doubt thankful that they lived. Nevertheless, the statement is so misleading that it is ridiculous.

At least now we know who started this humorous assertion that the Inquisitions were so popular that folks were dying to be tried by them. It's another Catholic apologist, Warren Carrol, in his 1984 book Reasons For Faith.

In summery, Patrick still blinds himself to the obvious problems of Papal infallibility. His closing paragraphs on page 241 state:

<<It's enough to admit that, yes, during the Spanish Inquisition, terrible things were done by Catholics in the name of the pope and the Church itself. But as bad as things were (and they were not always bad) that admission doesn't damage the fundamental issue here: The popes are not infallible in their application of ecclesiastical discipline. They can and do at times make mistakes in judgment when it comes to how to deal with the problem in the Church.

Papal infallibility, once again, involves only the former teaching office of the papacy. It has nothing to do with how popes govern the affairs of the Church.>>

Patrick is talking out of both sides of his mouth here. He infers that the Church was wrong for the Inquisition, but then suggests it was also right. Then he zig zags in a new direction by separating what the Pope preaches from what the Pope practices. Jesus, however, made no such distinction. He was sinless as was the Gospel he preached. If Jesus also murdered people in his spare time, it would have seriously undermined his claim to be God on Earth. Likewise, if the Pope murders people or has them murdered for him, it undermines his claim to be God's infallible representative on Earth. No amount of slippery linguistics or mental gymnastics can belie this obvious truth. The Pope, like every human, should come clean and admit he is not infallible and that sometimes, Papal leadership can be tragically flawed. So flawed that guilty people are executed for innocent crimes.

More importantly, any attempts to justify the Inquisitions should be condemned by the Pope himself. His office started the process, his office should end it. He should say in unambiguous terms that the Catholic Church was wrong to launch the Inquisitions and that Catholics were wrong to follow that lead. (His apology in Israel fell far short of this.) Considering most organizations who commit similar crimes against humanity have been disbanded, invaded, arrested and/or bankrupted, admitting guilt and promising never to do it again would be a very small price to pay.

And finally, many Catholics enjoy and collect Chick tracts. But many claim Chick tracts are hate lit and full of dangerous lies. Nothing Chick has advocated has ever resulted in the murder of innocents. Can the Vatican make the same claim? Unfortunately, it cannot. Perhaps instead of attacking Chick Publications and trying to run them out of business, critical Catholics would accomplish more by pressuring their own representatives to renounce religious trials and make amends for past persecutions. That would help remove the rhetoric that feeds suspicions of Protestants who fear a repeat of the past. As the above text demonstrates, there are still some very vocal Catholic leaders who have a long way to go before they embrace religious diversity (i.e., "heretics"). Let's hope they learn something from histories tragedies instead of trying to rationalize it.


For more on Patrick Madrid and his remarks about Chick and the Inquisition, go here.


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