A Baptist pastor in Tennessee says he now regrets that his church distributed an anti-Catholic leaflet that a local Catholic priest decried as “hate material."
Pastor Jonathan Hatcher, who leads Conner Heights Baptist Church in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., has removed the inflammatory leaflet, “The Death Cookie,” from his congregation. He says he will no longer distribute it.
“Looking back, I don’t think it was the right tract to give out,” Hatcher told FoxNews.com. “I have some others that wouldn’t have been as offensive. But I will continue to spread the gospel — that’s what I’m called by Christ to do. I’m still going to hand out tracts, but not ‘The Death Cookie.’”
The illustrated leaflet, distributed since 1988 by California-based Chick Publications, features an ominous character with a snake around his neck who advises a man that he can control the world by establishing a false religion based upon worshipping a cookie. Upon taking the control of the cookie, the man becomes the "papa" — a reference to the pope.
Jack Chick had a huge presence in California when I was growing up there, and after my adult conversion to the Faith, I ran into his little booklets (including this particular one) in just about every Protestant book store I went into. I wrote one shop to request they stop carrying them, but they never answered back. I complained to another large store, which featured an entire aisle dedicated to the tracts, and they replied "Many of our customers find the tracts helpful so we feel obliged to carry them." I visited the store a few years ago and noted (to my satisfaction) that they no longer seemed to carry them. (On the other hand, I was chatting with a young Baptist minister in his office last month, and when he opened his desk drawer to get something, I saw a neat little stack of Chick tracts in the corner. Sigh.)
These days you normally find them strategically placed (just like Jehovah's Witness materials) in locations --- campus, bar room and truck stop bathrooms; public laundry facilities; telephone booths, etc. --- where they can be picked up by the most vunerable audience, i.e. bored folks looking for something to read, and those largely uneducated in religion and most likely to be swayed by simplistic and emotional arguments.
As noted in the news report, Jack Chick has a long and colorful career as an anti-Catholic. The apologetics organization, Catholic Answers has done a comprehensive special report on this gentleman's "ministry" called "The Nightmare World of Jack T. Chick." You can find it here.
Finally, I would like to give kudos to the priest, Father Jay Flaherty, for opposing this bigotry and well-worn hate literature and for standing up for truth and for the members of his flock. This is just what a good shepherd is supposed to do.