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Opposing Views

More (anti-) Jack Chick references from another Karl Keating book, "The Usual Suspects". You gotta give Jack credit: he sure knows how to piss off the Papists!

All of the following are copyright 2000 Ignatius Press, San Francisco. (Reproduced here under provisions of fair use for purposes of studying a public figure.)


Jack Chick, one of those curiosities for which Southern California is famous, distributes in large quantities comic books depicting Romish intrigues as revealed by a man who claims to have been a Jesuit assigned to subvert Protestantism. These comics have received a lot of play in the Catholic press, but they are far less influential than other anti-Catholic material. They are so grotesque in their charges that even other opponents of the Church have written against their use. . . .

One widely distributed comic book from Chick Publications is titled Why Is Mary Crying? It tells us that "Mary is embarrassed, because the people are bowing down to statues of her." (A photo shows Pope John Paul II kneeling down before a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.) "Mary should never be a part of this because she always obeyed God's Word." Just what part of the Word is meant? Why, this part: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them" (Ex 20:4-5). This is the commandment that Fundamentalists accuse Catholics of ignoring and, worse than ignoring, hiding. They say the Catholic Church misnumbers the Ten Commandments and deletes this one entirely, so its people will not realize that statue worship is forbidden.

A "graven image" is a carved image or representation. The term is given here, not in limitation, but as an example, since verse 4 goes on to refer to "any likeness", which includes "graven images" but is broader, encompassing all artistic expressions. Of what things could the Israelites not have images? First, "of any thing that is in heaven above:, which includes God, the angels, and the saints. This would exclude Mary. The other things not to be depicted are those found in or under the earth, the Hebrew way of saying everything not in heaven. In other words, no images of anything at all. This interpretation, which might seem sensible if verses 4 and 5 were taken in isolation, is contradicted by the cherubim (Ex 25:18) and brazen serpent (Num 21:18) that God ordered to be fashioned. It is also contradicted by archaeological evidence, which demonstrates that Jewish synagogues were adorned with murals depicting all sorts of things found in nature.

No, it is not that the Israelites (and, derivatively, Christians) were forbidden to make images. They were forbidden to worship them. Look at the verse immediately preceding the one given in the comic book: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex 20:3). The next two lines are not a separate commandment; they are an application of this one. In "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them", the word "them" refers to "other gods."

This disproves the notion that the Church fooled with the numbering of the Ten Commandments. She did not, because she recognized that Exodus 20:4-5 should be read as a unit with Exodus 20:3. These verses form one commandment, the First. If catechisms usually do not quote Exodus 20:4-5, it is because they give a shortened form of the Ten Commandments. Most of the remaining commandments are abbreviated, too. Usually omitted from catechisms are Exodus 20:2b, 4, 5, 6, 7b, 9, 10, 11, 12b, and 17c. (Verses 17a and 17b are labeled the Ninth and Tenth Commandments by Catholics. Protestants put them together as the Tenth Commandment so verses 4 and 5 can be labeled the Second. The Catholic numbering is the more sensible. Read Exodus 20:1-17 and see if you do not agree.)

Return to the original charge. The real issue is bowing down to statues or other images. Bowing can be taken in two senses. The one forbidden in Exodus is a bowing that implies worship, either of the statue itself or of the person or thing represented by the statue. Do Catholics bow down before statues of the Virgin Mary? Yes, though the bowing usually takes the form of kneeling. Do they worship either Mary or statues of her? No, unless one equates worship with bowing (kneeling) itself, but you can be sure the ancients would not have done that. Most moderns would not either. In Japan people do not greet one another with handshakes. They bow. Children learn there are various types of bows: slight bows given to close friends or social inferiors, deeper bows given to employs and elders, and the deepest bow of all, reserved for the emperor. Japanese do not worship their friends, their bosses, their parents, or even the emperor, and they would laugh at you if you accused them of doing so. True, they also bow in worship at their churches, shrines, and temples, but they have no trouble distinguishing in their own minds a bow that implies worship from one that is a social courtesy.

What Protestants call the Second Commandment, part of what Catholics call the First, just does not apply to our kneeling before likenesses of the Virgin or the saints, because we do not worship the likeness or the people represented by them. We worship only God. Why do Fundamentalists not see this? Perhaps because the honor we give to Mary and the saints, which is shown by praying to them and asking them for their intervention on our behalf, is similar to the highest honor Fundamentalists pay to God himself.

Catholics have no trouble perceiving that they worship God but venerate saints. Fundamentalists cannot see any difference, because they conclude prayer itself is worship. Granted, it can be, but it is not necessarily. It depends on the content of the prayer. Catholics pray to saints for the obvious reason because that is the only way we can communicate with them. We cannot tell them on the phone or write a letter to them. If they were still on earth, our speaking with or writing to them would not be considered worship no one would have the gumption to make that charge so our communication with them once they are gone should not be considered worship either. What matters is what we say in that communication, that prayer.

The second half of the comic book explains that "Satan knew Jesus would leave heaven and be born of a virgin . . . so he devised a wicked plan to confuse the people into putting their trust in a counterfeit virgin that Satan created." He found his tool in "a beautiful witch named Semiramis", who "became the Queen of Babylon and married Nimrod." We are told that "Semiramis and Nimrod came up with the idea of confessionals and celibacy for the priesthood." After Nimrod's death, Semiramis gave birth to a child "and claimed that Nimrod had been reincarnated. The child was called Tammuz. He became the sun god, Baal." Semiramis became the goddess mother and, "when the people of Babylon were scattered to various parts of the earth, they took with them the worship of the divine mother and child" under various names.

"When Roman Catholicism came into existence around 300 A.D., the leaders knew if they could adopt the worship of the goddess mother into their religious system, then countless pagans would convert to Catholicism. But who could replace the Great Mother of paganism?" Mary, of course. Today we are approaching the End Times. "Almost a billion Muslims will join [Satan's one-world church] because the Virgin Mary was carefully placed in their holy book, the Koran. Even the 'New Agers' refer to a Mother/Father god. Satanic powers will impersonate Mary in future apparitions of the 'Virgin' worldwide. . . to bring the world under Satan's Antichrist." That is why the real Mary is crying. Simple, is it not?

Or maybe not so simple. One should note that the Bible says nothing at all about Semiramis, and the references to Nimrod are few. Aside from passing mentions in Micah 5:6 and 1 Chronicles 1:10, everything we know about him is given in a few verses in Genesis 10. In that chapter there is not a word about confessionals or celibacy or anything else brought up in the comic book. The source for the Semiramis story was not the Bible but Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons, a nineteenth-century anti-Catholic screed also conveniently available from Chick Publications.

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