I lived through the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Television news shows and documentaries were full of stories about the rise of Satanism among young people. 20/20 did a segment called The Devil Worshipers. Documentaries like Escaping Satan’s Web terrified parents. At my Christian school and church, I received Chick Tracts that warned us how easy it was to get tricked into becoming a Satanist or witch. Chick Tracts explained to us how Halloween, Dungeon & Dragons, Free Masonry, Catholicism, and Mormonism were all part of the vast satanic conspiracy taking over America. They warned us that dabbling in any of these organizations would lead to an eternity in hell.
Jack Chick’s world view was a twisted Fundagelical nightmare. In his world, conspiracies abound. Jesuits created the Holocaust, the Mormon Church was created as a safe place for Satanist, and gays were after your children.
Most of Jack Chick’s information (More accurately misinformation) about the occult came from Bill Schnoebelen. Schnoebelen was making a name for himself in the ’80s on the Fundagelical speaking circuit peddling his made-up testimony and dubious expertise in the occult. Jack Chick would swallow every last phony “fact” and publish numerous tracts, comics, and books.
Schnoebelen was supposedly a Satanist, warlock, druid, high ranking Freemason, Catholic bishop, (Old Catholic Order) Mormon, founder of several covens, and a vampire! He did all of this between the years of 1976-1980. His testimony was never questioned. His book Lucifer Dethroned even has two testimonial letters, one from a police officer and one from a pastor praising Schnoebelen’s knowledge and trustworthiness. Too bad no one ever fact-checked. The ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s were full of charlatans with fake testimonies that Fundagelicals ate up because they fit the worldview of their Fundagelical beliefs. If you had an exciting tale to tell, you could make a buck selling it.
Schnoebelen has been debunked numerous times. Too bad Jack Chick didn’t do it himself. Chick’s tracts helped fuel the satanic panic based on misinformation served up by frauds. So many Christians fell for this nonsense that fear of everyone was the norm. Jack Chick tracts taught us our own form of “magic.” Christians could use Bible verses and the name of Jesus as wards against evil. Check out pages 16 and 17 of First Bite here.
Fundagelicals believe they know the TRUTH. They hold everyone else to high standards of truth except themselves. Fundagelicals are guilty of confirmation bias, refusing to fact check any information that confirms their twisted view of the world. Chick Tracts were a staple of my childhood. As an adult, I learned they were utter nonsense. Nonsense my Fundagelical teachers and pastors sold to me as the truth. These little lies in the name of God led to cracks in the fundamentalist foundation they had laid down in my upbringing. Those cracks would only grow. Maybe Jack Chick did some good; his falsehoods moved me out of the Fundagelical camp and into the Progressive camp.
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