The Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) will consider expelling Chick Publications from membership when the association’s board meets late this month. Many booksellers have complained about the viciously anti-Catholic nature of Chick’s comic books.
“The problem is not only injuring and retarding the growth of the Christian literature movement, but it is creating divisions that are not Christian in nature,” said John T. Bass, CBA’s executive vice-president. His comments appeared in an article in the October issue of the CBA magazine, Bookstore journal.
Another CBA officer said the matter of expelling Chick would be on the board’s agenda this month, though Bass did not go that far in his article.
Chick Publications is headed by Jack Chick, an illustrator who lives in California and who began drawing Bible illustrations on his kitchen table years ago. He is an enigma, because he refuses interviews.
He recently published a comic book entitled Alberto, which purported to be the true story of a Jesuit priest named Alberto Rivera, whose undercover assignment was to infiltrate and destroy Protestant churches. It stirred an uproar from Roman Catholics who claimed the comic book was untrue, but the book was so popular among some fundamentalist groups that Chick published a sequel, Double Cross. It claimed to be the true story of Rivera’s rescue of his sister from a convent in England where she was a nun, and where she was bleeding to death from flagellation and other mistreatment.
CHRISTIANITY TODAY investigated and found the comic books to be fraudulent (CT, March 13, p. 50). It found that not only was Rivera never a priest, he had two children during the time he claimed to be living a celibate life as a Jesuit. Nor does he have a sister who was a nun. Neither Chick nor Rivera has refuted CT’s findings, except to claim that the magazine is part of a Jesuit plot against them.
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights complained to the booksellers’ organization because, as a CBA member, Chick was able to display and sell his literature at the CBA convention last summer in Anaheim, California.
In his letter of complaint to Bass, Michael Schwartz of the Catholic League said, “… because he maintains membership in good standing with the CBA, Chick has been able to gain a measure of credibility for his lies … accusations like [his] are not matters of doctrinal disagreement, on which conscientious Christians may differ in good faith.… They are not arguments for the truth of Protestant Christianity. They are vile, outrageous lies. They are the seeds of fear, hatred, and sectarian violence.”
Schwartz said in his letter that many Christian booksellers consider Chick respectable because he is a CBA member. He suggested that some suffered financial losses because, although they had purchased Chick’s comics, they refused to sell them after reading the CHRISTIANITY TODAY article.
CBA has sent Chick a letter asking him to reflect on the division the books are causing in the Christian community. Early this month it was awaiting Chick’s response.
The Catholic League asked the California attorney general to take legal action against Chick for his fraudulent comic books, but he declined to do so. The league considered bringing its own lawsuit against Chick, but was advised by its lawyers that such a suit would fail.
In his report on the matter in Bookstore Journal, Bass excerpted from several of many letters he received from owners of Christian bookstores who complained about Chick.
One bookseller who attended the convention last summer wrote, “… we were so disappointed to find the Chick publisher’s booth there, spilling out such hatred and untruth. Our theme this year signified love and unity in a common goal. Meanwhile, Chick pours out the worst kind of garbage and in the name of our gentle Lord.”
Besides his allegations about Alberto Rivera, the Chick comics are saturated with anti-Catholic slurs and innuendo. The most astonishing charge was that the name of every Protestant is kept in a computer file in the Vatican, and that the Catholic church is preparing for another Inquisition.
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