Jack Chick dead


The Guardian reports…

“Jack T Chick, the cartoonist and evangelist, died on Sunday at the age of 92. It is probably safe to say that there was no one else like him in the world.

Karen Rockney, Chick’s secretary and friend of 45 years, confirmed his death by phone on Monday, saying she had last seen him the previous day. Chick, for weeks in poor health, had known he was close to the end, Rockney said.

“The last time I actually spoke to him was last Thursday,” she said. “We were there in his home. He didn’t have a lot to say; he knew he was going. There were several of us from Chick Publications who were there to share with him. He let us know he loved us all and would see us soon.”

Chick rarely gave interviews; Rockney declined to provide contact information for his widow, Susie Chick, or Fred Carter, Jack’s co-artist since 1972. Carter’s work graced the pages of Chick-written comics during the mid-1970s boom in Christian comics publishing, alongside titles from the former Archie Comics artist Al Hartley’s religious comics company, Spire. Carter also illustrated a line of comics featuring black characters – some of them his own stories, some reworked from previous Chick tracts in order to broaden the comics’ audience and better serve Chick’s all-important mission of evangelism.

To Americans who grew up in or adjacent to evangelical Christian communities in the 1970s and 80s, Chick’s harsh stories about the wages of sin were both inescapable and oddly inviting in the way of very few other methods of proselytizing. Often left in places known to attract sinners – on video games, public transportation or stacks of glossier comics – the little black-and-white books are instantly recognizable: about the size of a dollar bill, each cover with stark white title text over one half, a two-color illustration on the other half.

This format, incidentally, is also the right size for a Tijuana bible, the slang name for the cheaply-produced depression-era pornographic comics starring cartoon characters such as Blondie and Popeye, which would have been in circulation when Chick was a boy. His innovation on the format outlasted the porn version by several decades, which surely pleased him.

Chick was married to his first wife, Lola Lynn, for 50 years; when she died, he married again, to Susie Chick. His only child, a daughter named Carol, died in 1998 after complications from surgery, Rockney said. Chick was not a Christian when he first met Lynn, Rockney told the Guardian, but his future in-laws insisted they listen to Charles E Fuller’s Old Fashioned Revival Hour together, and Chick adopted a charismatic form of Christianity that recast life’s difficulties in terms of a titanic struggle between ultimate good and absolute evil. That perspective would inform his work for the rest of his life.

A lot of people hated Jack Chick. He wrote furious screeds against Dungeons & Dragons, against Catholicism and against rock music; he waged a long and ultimately unsuccessful war on Halloween. If you were Jewish or Muslim or gay, Chick wanted you to be saved from the fires of hell and wrote a comic to tell you so.

At one time or another, Chick’s work was repudiated by his co-religionists, bookseller trade associations, and at least once by the government of Canada, which outlawed the distribution of a few of his comics as hate speech, according to an issue of the critic and New Yorker writer Daniel Raeburn’s magazine the Imp, devoted to Chick.

If Chick was troubled, it wasn’t by insincerity. Asked about Chick’s personal life, Rockney suggested a recent excerpt from the organization’s newsletter, Battle Cry: “He wrote about the witches that were sent to take his family out and how the Lord protected him,” Rockney recalled. “That’s recent. He just wrote that.” Chick befriended at least one of the witches, Rockney said.

The organization would throw parties – “banquets”, in her words – to celebrate milestones. In his last days, as he sat quietly surrounded by friends, Rockney said, they tried to ease his pain by reminding him of his hope of heaven. “I told him the next Chick Publications banquet is going to be with the Lord, and he got a big smile on his face,” she said.

Many underground and alternative comic artists admired him. In an interview last year, the cartoonist Daniel Clowes said that, as far as he was concerned, Chick deserved a place in the comics pantheon. “As a comics aficionado you don’t really think of those as being part of the official canon of effective comics,” he said. “And one day I sort of changed my mind on that. I thought, ‘These are really compelling and interesting and I’d rather read these than pretty much anything else published in 1985.’”

The revelation came after a Chick tracts bender, Clowes said: “[O]ne day I made a long trek out to a Christian bookstore in Queens where they had a rack where they sold them, and I bought every single one, which totaled I think $3. I think they were each 10 cents. And I went home and read them all in one sitting, and it was maybe the most devastating comics-reading experience I’ve ever had. I really felt like he’d almost won me over by the end. There’s really something to be said for that.”

Clowes drew his own parody of a Chick Tract, called Devil Doll, for the first issue of his own indie comics series, Eightball; other cartoonists including Jim Woodring and the celebrated underground cartoonist Robert Crumb mimicked Chick’s blunt storytelling style. At one point, a rumor circulated that Chick was in fact a pseudonym for Robert Crumb. (He wasn’t.)

By financial standards, the Chick Publications enterprise is successful – it has employed its small staff for nearly five decades – but in terms of pure saturation, it is a phenomenon. Raeburn called Chick “the most widely read theologian in human history”; if that is an exaggeration, it is a slight one. Four hundred million Chick tracts, sold in packets of 25 at just above cost, had been distributed in 1998 when Raeburn wrote that.

Rockney put the number closer to 1bn. “He was that very special, special person,” she said. “He sacrificed a lot to give what he gave to the world, and he’s one of the greatest reformers in the world.”

From https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/oct/25/jack-chick-christian-comic-cartoonist-death

Brian Houston reminds airline of ‘Emerald’ status

Battle for the ashes


The Telegraph reports…

The Roman Catholic Church has banned the scattering of ashes of the dead, insisting that, in some circumstances, those who request it for themselves should even be denied a “Christian funeral”.

Strict new Vatican guidelines forbid a list of increasingly popular means of commemorating loved ones – from scattering ashes at sea to having them turned into jewellery or put in a locket – dismissing them as New Age practices and “pantheism”.

A formal instruction, approved by Pope Francis, even forbids Catholics from keeping ashes in an urn at home, other than in “grave and exceptional cases”.

It also rules out the increasingly common practice of dividing people’s ashes between members of the family.

The document issued by the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) claims many modern cremation practices increasingly reflect non-Christian ideas about “fusion with Mother Nature”.

For centuries the Catholic Church forbade cremation altogether, primarily because of the teaching that Christians will be raised from the grave ahead of the Day of Judgment.

The ban was finally lifted in 1963 in a landmark Vatican document which accepted that there were often pressing social and sanitary needs for cremation but urged Catholics to choose burial wherever possible.

The new guidance accepts cremation in principle but signals a clampdown on increasingly varied uses for ashes, insisting instead that they should only be kept in a “sacred place”, such as a cemetery.

“[The Church] cannot … condone attitudes or permit rites that involve erroneous ideas about death, such as considering death as the definitive annihilation of the person, or the moment of fusion with Mother Nature or the universe, or as a stage in the cycle of regeneration, or as the definitive liberation from the ‘prison’ of the body,” it argues.

It goes on: “In order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewellery or other objects.”

It then adds that if someone has asked for their ashes to be scattered “for reasons contrary to the Christian faith” then “a Christian funeral must be denied to that person”.

Four years ago the ashes of actor James Doohan, who played “Scotty” in Star Trek, were blasted into space, along with those of more than 300 others.

Earlier the remains of the journalist and writer Hunter S Thompson were fired from a cannon on top of a 150ft tower in Colorado.

Other have requested their ashes be mixed into fireworks, ground into gems for loved-ones or even turned into items such as a Frisbee.

Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said there had been an “unstoppable increase” in cremation and that it would soon be the “norm” in many countries.

But he insisted: “The dead are not the private property of the family.

“The ashes of the deceased must be kept in a sacred place, either in a cemetery or in a church.

“Death is not the end our of our existence.”

But Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, whose members carry out thousands of funerals in the UK a year, said: “People memorialise people in all sorts of ways, I think what matters is that it respects the wishes of the person who has died and gives peace and healing to the people who are still alive.

“Whether you want to have someone’s ashes put into a firework or scatter them in a favourite place or inter them in the ground I think that what matters is the wishes of the person who has died and the needs of the family and friends and those who are still alive.

“I don’t think it is anyone’s role to second guess or interfere with that.”

From http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/25/catholic-church-bans-scattering-of-ashes-as-pantheism/

If your pastor wears a nice suit, they’re probably a crook


WTTG reports…

“An Alexandria pastor and his wife were arrested on Sunday for their alleged involvement in a $1.2 million fraud scheme that victimized members of their congregation.

Terry Wayne Millender, 52, the senior pastor of Victorious Life Church in Alexandria, along with his wife, Brenda, 56, and Grenetta Wells, 55, who is affiliated with the church, were indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy.

The charges were released Monday after Wells was arrested. The Millenders and Wells operated a company called Micro-Enterprise Management Group, a Virginia company that alleged to help poor people in developing countries by providing small, short-term loans to start or expand existing businesses by working with a network of established micro-finance institutions, according to a press release.

Terry and Brenda Millender were founding members of MEMG, and Wells served as chief operating officer. They recruited investors by emphasizing its Christian mission and use of the funds to help the poor, promising guaranteed rates of return, assuring investors that the loans’ principal was safe and backed by the assets of MEMG, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The indictment claims some investors gave the Millenders sums totaling $40,000, $50,000, $84,000 and $400,000.

The money was allegedly used by the trio to conduct risky trading on the foreign exchange currency market, options trading, payments toward the purchase of a $1.75 million residence for the Millenders and other personal expenses for the defendants, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In an effort to conceal how they had actually used the money, the defendants allegedly assured investors that they would get their money back and blamed delays in repaying investors on the 2008 financial crisis.

FOX 5 spoke to a former member of Millender’s church who said there have been rumors for years about financial misconduct.

“It didn’t really come as a shock – it was more of a sigh of relief,” Eric Brown said of the arrests.

Brown said his own family invested thousands of dollars into their pastor’s “business.” But they are not part of the federal case.

“I asked him like, ‘Hey, that’s a nice car,'” Brown recalled. “He said, ‘Yeah, $100,000 car. If you save up your money, God’s going to bless you.’ Come to find out now, it was actually part of our money.”

From http://www.fox5dc.com/news/213351395-story

Fatal church beating – updated*


The Utica Observer-Dispatch reports…

“After the final four Word of Life Christian Church defendants appeared in Oneida County Court on Friday, all those charged in the brutal beatings had either pleaded guilty or were found guilty of their crimes.

Nine members of the church, including the teens’ parents, originally were charged for their roles in an October 2015 so-called counseling session that killed Lucas Leonard, 19, and left his now-18-year-old brother Christopher Leonard severely injured.

The boys were whipped with an electrical cord on their stomachs, genitals, backs and thighs for as many as 14 hours “in hopes that each would confess their prior sins and ask for forgiveness,” police have said.

“We really had to look at and consider how much trauma we wanted to put the family through,” said Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara following the proceeding. Judge Michael Dwyer briefly lifted an imposed gag order so that McNamara could explain the pleas to the media.

“I can only hope that Luke can rest in peace, Chris can get on with his life and as can (sister) Grace and the whole Leonard family,” he continued. “This is a terrible tragedy.”

On Friday, Pastor Tiffanie Irwin, 30, pleaded guilty to two felonies: third-degree manslaughter in the death of Lucas Leonard and felony second-degree assault of Christopher Leonard. She’ll face 12 years in state prison and will be sentenced Monday, Dec. 19.

Irwin requested to be in the courtroom while the remaining defendants — her brother Joseph Irwin, 23, Linda Morey, 55, and her son David Morey, 27 — accepted pleas. The trio, shackled and in orange jumpsuits, entered the courtroom together.

Both Moreys pleaded to two counts of felony second-degree assault and will face five-year prison sentences. They’ll be sentenced Monday, Jan. 9.

Joseph Irwin accepted eight years in prison as he pleaded guilty to felony first-degree gang assault and second-degree assault. He will be sentenced Monday, Dec. 19.

Previously, the teens’ mother, Deborah Leonard, 60, and father, Bruce Leonard, 66, pleaded guilty to first- and second-degree assault. Traci Irwin and her son Daniel Irwin accepted plea offers to two years in county jail on two counts of felony first-degree unlawful imprisonment.

Sarah Ferguson, the teens’ sister, was tried in June and found guilty of first-degree manslaughter, two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of first-degree gang assault. She was sentenced to 25 years in state prison.

Joseph Irwin denies being ‘chief jailer’

Beside a quip from Tracie Irwin that she wasn’t “physically” threatened to make the plea, everyone except Joseph Irwin accepted the agreements without contest.

Dwyer told Joseph Irwin that the only way he would accept his guilty plea is if he admits to the prosecution’s allegations that his role in the beatings included keeping the teens in the church, separating them for interrogations and demanding they stand for more beatings.

“You’ve heard the others admit their responsibility,” Dwyer said, narrowing his eyes at Irwin.

McNamara said Irwin acted as “chief jailer” and was “the one” who arranged for the teens to be questioned about how they got into half-sister Sarah Ferguson’s apartment and what they did to her children.

“I didn’t hold them,” Irwin said between sobs. “I pushed Christopher to the floor before they had whipped them, but I didn’t stay. I can say yes (to the allegations) … but I wasn’t there. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Shortly after, a woman from the gallery screamed at McNamara calling him a liar. She was quickly removed from the courtroom.

After a brief conference at the judge’s bench, Dwyer accepted Irwin’s plea without making him admit to anything other than hitting each boy once and being present during the beatings.”

From http://www.uticaod.com/news/20161021/word-of-life-church-pastor-pleads-guilty-to-manslaughter


Lights go on in South Australia


ABC The World Today report


The Adelaide Advertiser reports…

“An Adelaide church has left its denomination so it can fully include gay people in its congregation.

The move by Activate Church, at Bowden, which was announced during a service on Sunday, will cost pastor Brad Chilcott his marriage celebrant licence and denominational credentials.

Mr Chilcott said Activate withdrew from the Australian Christian Churches, which has 1100 churches nationwide, in part because the denomination had joined the anti-marriage equality group Marriage Alliance.

He said Activate Church already had members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in leadership positions.

“This puts us outside of the Australian Christian Churches position on human sexuality,” he said.

“In discussions with the ACC it became clear that our membership in the movement couldn’t continue if we were going to have LGBTQI people in positions of leadership — which we did know from the beginning.

“As a community we’re also uncomfortable with membership in the Marriage Alliance and felt unable to be associated, via denominational ties, with that coalition.”

Mr Chilcott said Activate Church hoped to “reflect the character of Jesus and the heart of God” as a welcoming and inclusive community for all people.

While he did not want to align with a group that voiced opposition to gay marriage, he stopped short of saying he supported it.

“This isn’t a decision we’ve made in spite of our faith, but rather because of it,” he said.

“We simply believe that all people are equal and should have equal opportunity to belong and contribute to our church.”

Ben Herdon, 35, was formerly a pastor at another Adelaide church but was told to leave his role after coming out as gay in February.

“I was allowed to stay in the church if I didn’t disclose my sexuality to anyone, but couldn’t be involved in leadership regardless,” he said.

“My relationship with God was important to me and before coming out, I felt I wasn’t able to be 100 per cent with Him.

“There used to be some guilt in how I approached God.”

He said his Christian values did not change regardless of the fact he would pursue a gay relationship.

Olivia Watson, 31, of Rosewater, who is a worship leader at Activate, said it was important to realise the LGBT community was represented in churches and the anti-same-sex marriage rhetoric did not reflect all Christians’ views.

“I understand this can be a divisive issue in churches but, unfortunately, some of the loudest Christian voices we hear in this discussion don’t tend to sound like the voice of Jesus,” she said.

“Churches should be safe and inclusive spaces for all people, regardless of their sexuality or relationship status.”

From http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/lifestyle/relationships/activate-church-leaves-australian-christian-churches-denomination-to-stand-by-gay-leaders/news-story/6d0821b1e6d69c822d462866aa399390

OMG! Kenneth Copeland is advising Donald Trump


The Washington Post reports…

“Texas televangelist the Rev. Kenneth Copeland, who sits on Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board, urged viewers of his television program to vote, saying that would be held accountable if they don’t.

“You’re going to be guilty of murder,” the charismatic preacher said on the program. “You’re going to be guilty of an abomination of God. You’re going to be guilty for every baby that’s aborted from this election forward.”

The comments come after the Republican presidential candidate’s lewd comments made in a 2005 video were published on Friday by The Washington Post. Trump’s candidacy, already tearing some evangelical families and relationships apart, continued to divide evangelicals since his comments were made public.

Another megachurch pastor who is a member of Trump’s advisory board called the comments “misogynistic trash that reveals a man to be lecherous and worthless,” saying he is no longer willing to offer more of his time without a “change of heart and direction.”

Copeland’s program, which was uploaded to Copeland’s church’s Vimeo page on Sunday, also featured author David Barton, and pastors George Pearsons and Keith Butler to mobilize conservative Christians to vote.

Don’t cut out of the program, Copeland urged viewers. “I mean we could have another eight years of Hillary Clinton and the worst mess anybody could make out of a nation,” he said. A clip of the program was first published by Right Wing Watch. Those on Copeland’s program spent a good portion of it looking at the Democratic Party’s platform, decrying its abortion rights stance.

Conservative evangelical leaders have been divided in their support for Trump, but many have a long history of distrust for Clinton and especially abhor her position advocating for abortion rights. Many are especially concerned that whoever becomes president will appoint Supreme Court justices that will keep Roe v. Wade, the landmark case on abortion, from being overturned.

On the show, Copeland told viewers that God told him during a prayer that He has been dealing with politicians since biblical times and that America is God’s nation.

“This is God’s nation, and nobody is going to take it away from him,” Copeland shouted. “Now I want to get that clear right now, in the name of Jesus. No man, no woman, no Democrat, no Republican, no socialist, no communist can take this nation away from God! I don’t know what it is about that you can’t understand, but I’m telling you right now God Almighty is head of this nation, not people! Jesus of Nazareth is Lord over the United States.”

Kenneth Copeland Ministries is headquartered in Fort Worth, where a review board found that the ministry’s 1,500-acre campus includes a $6 million church-owned lakefront mansion. The Copelands were among the televangelists targeted in a 2007 Senate investigation since their ministry is not required to file a financial disclosure Form 990 with the IRS because it is designated as a church.

Members of Trumps’s evangelical advisory council advise Trump’s campaign on issues that matter to people of faith, how those issues are articulated, including positions on the Supreme Court nominees, national defense and the economy.

It’s still unclear whether the revelation of Trump’s lewd comments has made any difference among evangelicals planning to vote. Evangelicals have in recent decades voted with the Republican Party regardless of misgivings they may have, such as their support of Mitt Romney, who is Mormon, and their support for Ronald Reagan, who was divorced. The most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, conducted Sept. 19-22 ahead of the video leak, showed that 52 percent of evangelicals of any race favored Trump, compared with 40 percent who supported Clinton. Among white evangelicals, 71 percent supported Trump while 22 percent supported Clinton.”