Anne Rice quits Christianity

By now most of us have probably heard of Anne Rice’s Facebook announcement that she has quit Christianity. If you don’t know of her, she is a successful author (see Interview With A Vampire) who had returned to her Catholic roots in 1998, stating that she would no longer write vampire novels but instead write to the glory of God. I have read her subsequent novels about the life of Christ. They are a bit too cheesy for some of my friends, but I liked them. But then I liked Interview With A Vampire too.

But Anne now says:

“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. 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.”

And mayhem ensues. Some have attacked her outright, telling her she’s going to hell for thinking as she does, or for making the statement that she has made. Others nod in sad assent. Most of those are church refugees who felt cornered by the rigid views of what they had been told that devout Christians “should” believe that seemed to have little to do with Jesus and his gospel. Frankly, I sympathize with Anne’s point of view. We have a very syncretized Christianity in the US. So many things, political, cultural and what not, have become attached to Christian beliefs and it feels crazy-making to me.

I imagine she is frustrated and hurt, not to mention appalled by the dark side of us. I can see that it can become necessary to separate oneself from those whose thinking is so binary that no real discussion is possible. I have also had to remove myself from groups of people who preach a gospel of wall building and heartlessness. It felt damaging to be around and to exist within their walls meant either shutting down and conforming (looked upon as submissive and godly) or be attacked for speaking up. Sometimes you can’t love well without really, really good boundaries.

But what it comes down to is, what does this expansive gospel of ours ask us to do in situations like these?

In her memoir of her journey from Judaism to the Christian faith (Girl Meets God) Lauren Winner writes of friends who were concerned about her choice to become a Christian. She believed however, that when her friends asked about her new faith that they were less interested in theology than sociology. They were really wondering if she was becoming one of those “benighted, intolerant people who shun PG-13 movies and own a few polyester pantsuits”. And, “[Would I] vote for Pat Robertson, listen to Amy Grant, and believe that the earth is only 5000 years old?” She goes on to say that what she wanted to tell them is that she claims an evangelical theological orientation but “culturally, intellectually, and politically I am much more sophisticated than his stereotype of evangelism.”

But instead, Lauren concluded with a statement that has truly stayed with me. In answering her friends’ question, “Hey Lauren, are you one of them? A bible thumper?” She would simply say yes because, “I look around All Angels’ [her church] at a motley crew of Christians, some of whom buy clothes at Wal-Mart and some of whom wear Vera Wang, and I know that these people are my people, polyester, Amy Grant, and all.”

It comes down to the difference Jesus makes in us, I think. I do not believe he is all that impressed with our political positions or our moral codes or our beliefs. That may be upsetting to some because we spend quite a long time honing and sharpening these things and they make us feel strong and sure. And of course these can be important, but they are secondary. Nor do I think that we must associate being a Christian of any type (Evangelical, fundy, Catholic, mainstream, Orthodox, whatever) with what has become the Christian culture at large that many think of when they think of us and get irritated, whether it be shopping choices or political positions. Any hatefulness in us is an aberration; it is not truth. It is not us. In that light, I think what Jesus is and always has been most interested in is how we treat each other. He asserted that priority many times. This brings me to a place where I am learning to say, I may not agree with you, but you are my people. That’s really hard because that is rarely my first inclination. And ironically, I don’t believe Jesus ever meant to start a religion or a competing philosophy of life. He meant to bring the Kingdom and we bring the Kingdom forth as we live it out with and amongst each other. Loving our enemies literally begins at home.

I relate to Anne’s frustration and pain. I get it. I grieve over the many who have been confused about the heart of the gospel because of the craziness of some of us. I ache for those who have been deeply wounded by hateful speech and selfish actions. She is right- the things she describes are not Jesus. But I don’t know where Anne’s heart is at right now. She may need a time of drawing a smaller circle and pushing the church out. I needed to be angry at the church for a while too. And as it has been said, this is no great disappointment where there is no great love. Therefore, in the name of Christ may we draw a larger circle and welcome her right back in.

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Showing 9 comments
  • Terra Williams
    Reply

    Dear Ellen ~

    Your words are clear and of the heart. Thank you for your wisdom. It seems helpful to think of myself as being a “spiritual practitioner” rather than a “religious believer.” As you say, Jesus did not come to create an organization, but to revolutionize hearts and minds. The Buddha did the same. The loudness of the “crowd” is difficult to tune out, especially in our day. Still, devoting more time to the inner life through meditation, prayer, contemplation, helps me to open my heart to all who are caught up in forms of negativity and delusion, starting with myself.
    Here is a prayer I often say:
    “May we all dwell in the open heart. May the suffering of all beings be healed. May we all open our hearts to one another.”

    • ellenharoutunian
      Reply

      That’s a beautiful prayer, Terra! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. 🙂

  • phyllis
    Reply

    beautiful and wise, as always.

  • WIP Bible Community
    Reply

    In our faith journey we will hit this point when we get disappointed in Christianity and church … and there are millions of reasons why … I can relate to this a lot … but we have to make a choice to stay close to God even when religion seems so fake and unreal.

    We should never give up on Christ. Great points in your post.

  • Carol
    Reply

    I will say amen. Oh, does that sound too Christian? LOL

  • Ronda
    Reply

    Anne Rice is a brave woman to announce her struggles so openly. And you’ve provided good insight again Ellen, showing us Christ in the midist of the worlds confusing “-ologies”. Thanks!

  • Jonathan Brink
    Reply

    This line caught me: “they were less interested in theology than sociology.” Doesn’t it really come down to that, how we interact as human beings? Interesting.

  • APG
    Reply

    .

    If I could meet her in person, I would
    love to say “Thank you Anne Rice –
    for so very articulately stating what
    I have felt in my heart for years” !!!!

    One’s ‘Faith-in-Christ’ should IN NO WAY
    be tied into the man-controlled ‘Religion’
    that so many refer to as “Christianity”
    (especially that apostate, psuedo-religious
    political-movement called ‘evangelicalism’)

    It took me forever to realize that my
    relationship with God (as established
    through Christ Jesus, God The Son) was
    IN NO WAY dependent on the apostate
    psuedo-religious movement sweeping
    America in the name of the “church”.

    If Christ were walking the earth today,
    a lot of these same “religious” types
    would be the first to demand that He
    be ‘crucified’ — and based merely on
    who He chose as FRIENDS (women,
    gays, foreigners, immigrants, the poor,
    the rejected, the downtrodden, the rich,
    men, old, young, happy, sad, and so on).

    The “evangelicals” (not to be mistaken
    for TRUE FOLLOWERS of Christ) and
    other “church” types have essentially
    hijacked the Christian ‘Faith’ in order to
    turn it into a mammon-worshipping,
    power-mongering, “Religion” of hate.

    These people are more akin to a system of
    ANTI-CHRIST (i.e. “against”-Christ) than
    to anything tied into WHO CHRIST IS.

    Their evil has reached such profound levels
    that even people who know and love Christ
    are turned off from them and their words
    (again proving these “church” types are
    really nothing more than anti-Christ,
    self-righteous Pharisees and are not
    even remotely related to Jesus Christ).

    Never again will I waste my time stepping
    into the psuedo-religious social-club that
    is known as “church” or associate myself
    with the political-clique that is known as
    ‘christianity’ — because FROM NOW ON
    — I realize that I do NOT “need” either
    in order to have a relationship with MY
    LORD JESUS CHRIST (in fact, those
    two entities were actually ‘interfering’
    with my relationship with God)

    THROUGH CHRIST — GOD HAS OPENLY
    EXPRESSED HIS LOVE TO ‘EVERYONE’
    (no matter if rich, poor, gay, straight, male,
    female, sickly, healthy and so on) — AND
    CHRIST (not the so-called”church”) IS
    ‘THE DOOR’ and ‘THE WAY’ TO GOD!!

    ALL ARE WELCOME TO APPROACH AND
    TO ENTER THROUGH ‘THE DOOR’ TO GOD!!

    NO ONE IS REJECTED BY JESUS CHRIST !!!

    JESUS LOVED AND LOVES EVERYONE !!!

    LET’S ALL TRY TO REMEMBER
    THE BIBLE VERSE OF ‘JOHN 3:17’:

    “For God did NOT send His Son
    into the world – to condemn
    the world, BUT that the world,
    THROUGH HIM, might be SAVED !!!!”

    JESUS CHIST – and *not* the institution known
    as “the church” or the religion called “christianity”
    — IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE!!!

    LIKE MANY OTHER PEOPLE – I AM DONE
    WITH THE CHURCH & WITH CHRISTIANITY
    — AND FROM HERE ON OUT – MY FOCUS IS
    ON (AND FAITH IN GOD RELIES IN) JESUS
    CHRIST AND JESUS CHRIST ALONE !!!

    .

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