Anne Rice and association with Christianity
On July 28, famed author Anne Rice posted the following on her Facebook page:
For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else. [source]
As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen. [source]
My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become. [source]
I’m not a fan of Rice mainly because I’ve never read her books but I’ve followed her developments and statements with minimal interest since she shifted from atheism to Catholicism. Such extreme pendulum swings in faith never fail to intrigue me. With Rice’s most recent statement, I’m forced to evaluate what it is about Christianity that’s so abhorrent that she’s chosen to renounce Christ?
Before her public repudiation, it’s clear that she was struggling with many unfortunate issues Christianity is associated with. A few Facebook posts from last Tuesday:
Gandhi famously said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” When does a word (Christian)become unusable? When does it become so burdened with history and horror that it cannot be evoked without destructive controversy? [source]
Since some of you mentioned the Westboro Baptist Church in comments below, I thought I’d publish this recent news story about them. This is chilling. I wish I could say this is inexplicable. But it’s not. That’s the horror. Given the history of Christianity, this is not inexplicable at all. —Link to “How Young Is Too Young to Learn Hate?” an article about Westboro Baptist Church [source]
This shocking link was provided by a poster below. No wonder people despise us, Christians, and think we are an ignorant and violent lot. I don’t blame them. This kind of thing makes me weep. Maybe commitment to Christ means not being a Christian. —Link to “GOP-linked punk rock ministry says executing gays is ‘moral’” an article about an anti-gay Christian nonprofit [source]
These things associated with Christianity in America are unfortunate not to mention the personal travails Ms. Rice has encountered (losing a daughter to leukemia, losing her husband of 41 years, and watching her other son — a gay rights activist — endure hate-filled rants and threats in the name of Christ). I’ve never experienced any of the things she’s experienced but it makes me understand why she would choose to “quit being a Christian… in the name of Christ.”
I’ve read a lot of posts by Christians questioning whether a person can tell Christ that she loves him but doesn’t want to be part of his Bride (that is, the universal body of Christ—commonly known as the Church). The common conclusion is that no, you can’t love Christ and not be part of his Bride.
But let’s look at this example: let’s say my husband had a close friend and this close friend of his saw me spewing bigoted remarks at other people and talking about killing people who I didn’t believe lived up to my husband’s ideal of how people ought to be. I think my husband’s friend would have every right to say, “Man, I like hanging out with you but I can’t be around when your wife is around. She acts so terrible, it reflects badly on who I am.”
Christians think that the Bride is above criticism because Christ instituted the Church. Jesus loves the Church, yes, but he sees our warts and flaws and knows it is comprised of sinners. And because Christians can be so pompous about what the Bible teaches (right or not), we sometimes drive those within our body away.
Do I agree with Rice’s decision? No, I don’t, but I respect it. I’ve read some other people argue that she should have stayed in the Church (in her instance, the Roman Catholic Church) and tried to effect change from within.
Another personal example, if you’ll allow me: After Obama’s historical election to the presidency in 2008, I chose to leave the Democratic Party. I am a staunchly pro-life (that is, anti-abortion, anti-death penalty) citizen and discovered that the Democratic Party’s stance on abortion had become so relaxed (with President Obama having the most relaxed abortion policies I’ve ever heard of) that there was no way staying in the party would allow me to effect change from within. Even though I am mostly a Democrat in other respects, to continue to be a part of an institution that I had such a fundamental disagreement with would have caused me more harm than good.
However, I’m still a Christian because I believe Jesus has called me to be a part of his Church no matter how many gripes I have with my fellow believers. I believe in the cause of Christ more than I believe in his followers. And I believe that Christ’s message of love and repentance is not just for a certain group of sinners but for all people. Jesus came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. He came for those who are sick, not those who are well.
Like I said, I don’t agree with Ms. Rice’s decision but I respect it. They are too many Christians who think that they’re righteous and well just because they claim the name of Christ. Ms. Rice will only return to the Church once she sees more Christians admitting that they’re sickly sinners.