Residents on numerous streets in Princeton woke up Thursday to find that offensive, ultra-conservative Christian religious tracts had been left on lawns, sidewalks, and driveways in their neighborhoods. Some of the tracts include sinister messages about homosexuality, while others claim that Mormons, Muslims, Catholics, Buddhists, communists, and those who believe in evolution are all going to hell unless they repent and accept Jesus Christ as their savior.
Tracts appeared in several neighborhoods the morning after a group of right-wing Christians held a protest on Washington Road heckling students at Princeton University and spewing hate speech.
The tracts are Chick tracts — short, fundamentalist gospel tracts that look like small comic books. They were originally created and published by the American publisher and religious cartoonist Jack T. Chick beginning in 1960. Since his death in 2016, his company has continued to print tracts, including tracts by new writers. The company claims to have sold more than 800 million tracts.
In one of the tracts, a young boy looks for comfort after learning his best friend died. He is told in the cartoon that his friend will burn in hell forever because he chose to go trick or treating. The grieving boy is also criticized for believing that being a good person will allow him to go to heaven. Another cartoon, Home Alone, pushed the belief that gay men convert otherwise heterosexual men into homosexuality and that gay and lesbian individuals are more promiscuous than heterosexual ones. More than 20 of the tracts are devoted to bashing Catholicism. The tracts argue that Roman Catholics are not Christians.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated Chick Publications as an active hate group. The group was listed due to its strong anti-Catholic, anti-Muslim, and anti-homosexual rhetoric. Many religious groups have accused Chick of misrepresenting them.
Some groups have created parodies of the tracts to mock the views in them. The live-action film “Dark Dungeons” is based on a Chick tract of the same name that warns against the supposed evil influence of the game Dungeons and Dragons.
Some residents who found the tracts on their properties Thursday expressed concerns that the tracts are being targeted at students. A few residents planned to contact the police about the tracts being placed on their private property.