Apes, Lies, and Chick Tracts

There’s a propaganda piece that has been showing up in Florida, possibly as part of the fight against evolution in new proposed educational standards. It comes from a site with which I’m fairly well acquainted–Chick Publications. One sickening piece of propaganda from that organization is titled Apes, Lies, and Ms. Henn.

It is obvious that the intention of the publishers is that we see evolution, and particularly the idea that, as the tract says, people “come from monkeys,” but the real lie is in the tract itself. And as we will see, this is not the only such publication produced by this same organization.

Dirty politicians could learn lessons from this material, though they would probably endanger their own careers if they used too many of these techniques. There’s a line beyond which politicians are seen as negative, and I’m afraid these would qualify.

Look at these elements:

We start with a substitute teacher. Did you notice that “Mrs. Tucker is replaced by “Ms. Henn.” In this way one sweeps various elements of modern life, such as women’s liberation, along with the teaching. Of course, Ms. Henn looks like everyone’s notion of a witch–demonic even–which is clearly not accidental. We’re supposed to see her as the embodiment of evil.

There is no actual teaching of evolutionary theory portrayed, and all questioning is shut down. This is, of course, what a control freak like Ms. Henn would want to do, and is, of course connected to evolution. The tie-in is quite intentional, of course. Propaganda against the theory of evolution frequently suggests not merely that there is insufficient evidence, but rather that there is no evidence. In their view, the only reason people accept the theory of evolution is that they are desperate to find a way to avoid God. Scientists like Dr. Kenneth Miller or Dr. Francis Collins don’t fit into their universe. A Bible teacher who accepts the theory of evolution, such as myself, would certainly be beyond their grasp.

There’s the standard misuse of the word “prove/proof” when Ms. Henn claims that “scientists have proven it.” She shouts this, of course. Now there’s little point in vetting this whole propaganda piece for facts–there really are none there. It’s not intended to convince anybody of such mundane things as facts; rather, its purpose is to smear those who teach evolution at the same time as one tries to scare people with the fires of hell.

Yes, as you continue to read, this gets worse. As a Christian Bible teacher, I am appalled to see this go forward into what apparently is intended as a gospel message. Lie first, then threaten, then pretend to be preaching good news. Nobody with the slightest knowledge of the facts will actually be impacted by this kind of thing, except, perhaps, for some nausea. But people who are uncertain of what they believe will be threatened by the fires of hell, because, you see, people who believe in evolution are definitely going to hell. In fact, Susy informs her little classmate that “most people are going to hell.” You have to close your eyes and your mind, or you’re headed for the hot place.

Frankly, I must tell you that the first part of this was standard. I grew up with jokes and smears about “evolutionists” who ignore God, ignore all facts and evidence, because they are just so determined to believe evolution. As I studied actual data, I found that this picture was completely false, so blatantly false that I have a hard time believing that people teach it honestly.
But to tack onto that a supposed teaching of the Christian gospel message made it even worse. The intent is to impact young and impressionable minds with the idea that the vast majority of scientists, and even most Christians are part of an evil conspiracy, are lying to themselves and everyone else, and are therefore going to hell. Which is, of course, precisely what these people believe. It almost makes me wish I took hell a bit more literally myself. There would surely be a special level of hell for liars of this caliber.

But let’s go forward. The folks at Chick are not satisfied merely to tell us that all those who accept the theory of evolution are going to hell. They’re careful to make sure that folks read just the right Bible. Notice at the end that you are advised to “read your Bible (KJV) every day.” They have a number of pages filled with misinformation in support of their position on the KJV. In fact, if you read this, you might get the idea that all those who use any other Bible version are preaching “another gospel.” Probably they’re all headed straight for hell too. (For more information on Bible versions, see the tract What’s in a Version? and my Bible Version Selection Tool.)

Then we can try this tract in which a Catholic dies and finds out he’s in hell, because he wasn’t a real Christian, at least as defined by the folks at Chick publications. He’s part of “most people” who go to hell. Unfortunately for him, he believe his priest, and you know that won’t do. In fact, he is even depicted tearing up a Chick Tract. (One could almost suspect that’s the unpardonable sin!)

We find out here that the American Bible Society is also corrupted because they produce the CEV, which, in the twisted logic that applies in the very special world of Chick Tracts, turns out to be much more favorable to the Catholic Church. So an organization of dedicated people who have spread the Bible far and wide are, in fact, not serving God at all, but that other guy.

There are very few Christian ministries that I will attack outright as I have done here. I try simply to go for statements and not the group as a whole. Doubtless, even at Chick publications, there are people who sincerely believe they are defending the faith. But this type of publication is not a blessing to the church, it is not the right way to reach people for Jesus, and it is not sound doctrine. It needs to be exposed as precisely what it is.

I do not permit the use of Chick tracts, even the less offensive ones, at any ministry event in which I am involved, and that will continue to be my policy. There is simply too much danger that someone will go further, and be turned aside in their spiritual journey by hate-filled propaganda. That would be a tragedy.

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  1. Henry, while I love Chick Tracts as much as the next dweeb, I do think you’re being overly kind in calling them a Christian ministry. I think the anti-Catholicism quite clearly moves their doctrine out of orthodoxy, past even heterodoxy, and firmly into heresy.

    People still do buy these things?? I mean – buy them as an evangelism aid, and not just as conversation pieces and/or points of ridicule?

    My favorites are “Dark Dungeons” (we are avid RPers!) and “The Death Cookie,” which, if it wasn’t so overtly evangelistic, it would be a wonderful tool for teaching hyperbole and propaganda techniques.

    1. You are probably right about being too kind. Consider that I make it a policy not to directly attack any Christian ministry; I do go after certain practices. So I’m not treating them as I would a ministry I really consider Christian.

      On the other hand, I’m not getting into the business of deciding who is a Real ChristianTM.

  2. I have been disturbed by how often these are used as evangelistic tools in poor, chiefly illiterate countries. I used to see them in Tanzania all the time, being looked at by kids on the bus.

  3. Chick tracts have always been to me one of those things that I would laugh at if I picked it up because they can be so amusing at times. Unfortunately, there’s the inevitable realization – “Wait, this is serious?” – that ruins the whole thing.

    On the other hand, Chick tracts demonstrate that sometimes you don’t have to parody some things – they do a fine enough job on their own. If only everyone could see that.

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