“Operation Bucharest”: a bizarre insight into the mind of Christian propagandist Jack Chick Thiago Vahia Malliagros The Skeptic

Jack Chick, and his Chick Tracts, have achieved a degree of worldwide infamy. His tracts of small stories are filled with his version of Christianity: a homophobic, hateful and conspiratory version, at that. They are commonplace in the United States; in Brazil, they are a bit harder to find (as I will approach in a later article). As the tracts are easy to produce and distribute, it’s not unusual for people to find them and spread them all around; they were made for precisely that purpose. The aim was that a quick read could turn the reader into a devotee, or at least engender enough interest that they would check the website, call the contact numbers, or buy the books recommended at the end of the tract.

From Jack Chick’s “Adopted”

Among non-believers, Chick Tracts are widely ridiculed; they make parodies of them or share them around as memes. Initially, I aimed to focus primarily on that aspect and the tracts more generally until I found something interesting: Jack Chick wrote not only small stories but full comic books.

The Crusader series started in 1974 and had an irregular schedule, with Volume 21 released in 2013. I decided to read all of them, as I enjoy comics and reading propaganda, so I would like to analyse the comics. I believe they tell a lot about Jack, his belief, and his Christianity – much more concisely than by looking at dozens of tracts.

The first comic – “Operation Bucharest” – is also the best in terms of what a comic book should be; there are characters, stakes and plot, things that cannot be taken for granted in the rest of the series. In terms of the story, during a raid, communists arrest Christians in Romania (it is not clear what type of Christians they are – this will become important, as Jack Chick believed that all denominations that don’t use the King James bibles will burn in hell) and take their last bible. So a US priest gives two of his congregation a special and dangerous mission: to smuggle copies of the Bible back into communist Romania.

One of the pair tasked with this mission is Timothy Emerson Clark – a Green Beret who, after getting injured in a special mission, was brought back to life through prayer and became a Christian. The other is, in the words of Jack Chick:

James Carter, head of a Narcotics Ring, an expert in street fighting trained as a black Militant and a black belt in Karate.

Carter became a Christian because a pastor told him about Jesus – a recurrent motif in all comics and Jack’s work in general. In each, there is the notion that people have never heard about Christ; if they have, it’s some nonsensical version. This is usually to justify why people convert so quickly and to give the impression that everyone would accept “The Lord” if they had only heard the right speech.

The villain is Coronel Cherkov, who doesn’t even know about the plot to smuggle the bible blueprint; he just knows that Timothy is related to the US ambassador of France and wants to humiliate him by catching one of the protagonists in a scandal. Then tie both together, so the Ambassador appears to be the one that did the scandal and not one of his relatives. So he sets up a “honey trap” with a character called Sofia, who would seduce Timothy and then say she was assaulted.

Our heroes overcome some problems and are involved in some brief fight scenes; as the villains try to separate them, Sofia appears and starts seducing Timothy, and it seems that the plan will work. Still, our protagonists deliver the bible blueprints with no difficulties at all because the villains at no point have any clue that this was the plan… making it an entirely useless plot point.

Sofia takes our protagonist to a room where behind a fake mirror, a bunch of people are ready to film the sex act and use it to ruin Timothy’s reputation and damage the ambassador. But instead of being seduced by Sofia, Timothy turns her to Christ – so effectively that one camera operator is converted too. There is no gigantic explanation of Christianity like so many tracts; it’s just some quick reading of the bible, and done: Sofia is ready to lay down her life for Jesus. And I mean that literally: she is arrested and sent to a Gulag. This all happens within half a page.

The final half-page of Jack Chick’s Operation Bucharest

The plot may be a little convoluted, but the message is simple: Even in the cold and dark wastes of Communism, the word of God can flourish. Yes, Sofia knew nothing about Jesus, but given the right message and messengers, she could flip… and therefore, others could, too.

A key aspect is rapid conversion: for Chick, people needed to convert immediately because the Rapture could happen anytime. Israel would be imminently attacked and destroyed by Russia, so the end times could happen any day. All of that appears sprinkled in the comic, but I won’t go into that too much here, as there are entire comics dedicated to it.

Still, the plot and message are perfect for Chick’s public; even in the “empire of evil” in the East, people are fighting to get the news of God, and the words are compelling enough that anybody who hears the message will be turned to Christ.

In comparison with all other Chick work, this at least has a story and characters; yes, that is a low bar, but this is Jack Chick. This changes throughout the Crusaders Series – as the series progresses, we start to get gigantic text dumps, and we dispense entirely with the plot; in fact, one of the ‘stories’ is just the “protagonist” telling a couple of people about the history of Lucifer.

As this is merely an introduction to Jack Chick, I will leave the readers here after this first comic. The others will touch on some exciting topics, including creationism, that Rock is the tool of the Satanic Druids, that the Jesuits control everything, and the apparent fact that Jack Chick doesn’t know the bible well at all.

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Jack Chick may be best known for his Christian propaganda ‘Chick Tracts’, but it is in his comic books that we get the clearest insight into his ideology
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