The pastor of an Ohio church that, for Halloween, gave children an anti-atheist cartoon “Gospel tract” published by a radical Christian hate group, has issued a public apology and denunciation of the cartoon’s “extreme methodology.”
The tract, titled “Mean Momma,” is the work of Chick Publications, an evangelical ministry that the Southern Poverty Law Center has long listed as a hate group due to its militant, vitriolic propaganda war against anyone who doesn’t adhere to its particular brand of Christianity.
“Mean Momma” illustrates the story of the fictional Petunia Parker, a grouchy atheist who rejects the hospitality of her neighbors, curses God, and tells her children that “it’s okay to live any way you want.” One by one, the children die – one in a car crash, one from suicide, and one in a tornado that also wrecks the house – until Petunia repents of her evil ways, accepts Christ, and is saved.
Responding to a deluge of negative comments on the church’s Facebook page, Pastor Kenny Cousar of Northview Baptist Church in Hillsboro, Ohio, wrote on Oct. 29, “Annually, our church has a ministry of passing out Gospel tracts with our candy to children as an outreach to our communities. Unfortunately, we did not realize that one of our tracts was not appropriate. That is our fault for not paying attention to the tract in the first place. Our church does not endorse this type of extreme methodology that was represented in this particular tract, and we can assure you that we will not let this happen again. In our zeal to get the Gospel out, we were careless; but our church is a loving church that loves souls and wants to do all we can in our community to help as well as spread and share the Gospel message of Christ.”
Atheists aren’t Chick Publications’ only target. The California-based ministry, founded almost 50 years ago by Jack Chick – who still writes and illustrates much of its material – is also anti-Muslim, anti-gay, and anti-Mormon. Perhaps the greatest target of its wrath is the Catholic Church, which it calls a “false religious system” that worships a “blasphemous wafer god.”
Chick Publications’ other material is equally extreme. An anti-gay cartoon titled “Uninvited” is the fictional tale of a Christian nurse on an AIDS ward who converts her patients – all of whom are gay – by telling them that she could have become a lesbian after being raped as a child but turned to Jesus instead. “The gay community fulfill Christ’s prophecy by terrifying politicians, strong-arming the media, and creating little sodomites in our school systems,” the nurse says in one panel of the cartoon. “They want the world to become like Sodom. It will, under the coming antichrist, but what a price to pay.”
After admitting that they, too, were molested as children, some of the gay men in “Uninvited” reject homosexuality, accept Jesus, and are saved. Those who refuse the Christian nurse’s message die “in their sins” and go to hell.
Chick Publications also draws on the work of other extremists. A 2008 article on Islam from Battle Cry, Chick Publications’ newsletter, quotes Robert Spencer, co-founder of the anti-Muslim hate group Stop Islamization of America. Elsewhere, an article purporting to show that evolution is a hoax cites the theories of Dr. Kent Hovind – a.k.a. “Dr. Dino” – a veteran anti-evolution activist and tax protestor who ran a bizarre creationist theme park called Dinosaur Adventure Land and presided over Creation Science Ministries, which sold books and other merchandise. In 2007, Hovind was sentenced to 10 years in prison on 58 counts of tax fraud, including failure to pay $845,000 in employee-related taxes and threatening investigators.
It is unclear whether the other tracts Northview Baptist Church passed out for Halloween are also generated by Chick Publications. The church did not return a call for comment.