February 16, 2007

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Conspiracy theories, paranoia and the Jesuits

Cynthia DewesWe’re all familiar with the Scripture passage which says that in the end, three things remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love. That’s the Christian faith in a nutshell.

Well, maybe not for all Christians. At least that’s the impression we get from hearing and reading about what is done in the name of Christian faith. Often, it’s not very hopeful, and it sure isn’t loving.

This came to my attention recently when I picked up a couple of little pamphlets “given in love” by a local religious group seeking to save sinners and gain converts. The irony of this statement didn’t strike me until later when I realized that love is probably the last thing accompanying this gift.

The pamphlets are tracts with cartoon stories illustrating their messages. “The Outcast” concerns a woman who is a prostitute, abused from childhood and finally beaten up and left for dead. When she turns to her Christian friends for help, they tell her the story of Rahab, an Old Testament prostitute with the proverbial heart of gold who led others to the one true God. The moral is, even prostitutes can be saved. OK.

The other tract I picked up was “The Empty Tomb,” which tells us that belief in Christ’s miracles, Passion and death point to salvation for all of us. The pictures and descriptions are a bit gory and dramatic, but they make a valid point.

While not exactly my favorite style of evangelization, these pamphlets seemed to be acceptable. That is, until my daughter-in-law told me about others in the series, which are called “Chick Tracts” and published by someone named Jack T. Chick. All I can say is, this man has entirely too much time on his hands.

She also guided me to a “Catholic Answers” site on the Web. There, they described “The Nightmare World of Jack T. Chick.” And it surely is a nightmare, according to documentation taken from Chick’s actual writings.

Chick believes that Catholics are to blame for just about every bad thing that’s ever happened in the world, with the Jesuits leading the effort. “Answers” references one such claim: “The Jesuits instigated the American Civil War, supporting the Confederate cause and seeking to undermine the Union. When they failed, they arranged the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Later, they formed the Ku Klux Klan.”

Not only that, this nefarious Catholic plot has been going on far longer than this, as “Answers” relates in another of Chick’s claims: “In the sixth century … Catholic leaders manipulated the Arabian tribesman Mohammed into creating the religion of Islam to use as a weapon against the Jews and to conquer Jerusalem for the pope.” Who knew?

Well, this nonsense goes on and on, with the pope a Communist, the Jesuits founding the Mormon religion and a big computer in the Vatican recording every Protestant on Earth for future persecution. But in the end, Chick’s message is that we must accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, turn away from sin and let Jesus become the example for our lives.

That sounds OK, but if Chick really means what he advocates in his tracts, he is anything but Christian. That’s because faith, hope and love simply cannot result from hate.

Christ came to show us how to love as God loves, even as we must love Jack T. Chick and even as Jack T. Chick must love Catholics.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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