Anne Rice: “Today I quit being a Christian.”

Best-selling author Anne Rice, who most famously penned Interview with a Vampire, announced yesterday on her Facebook page that she is no longer a Christian. She wrote:
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.
Then, a few minutes later, she added:
...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.
Rice, who has often been at odds with the church over social issues, grew up in a devout Catholic household, but left the church when she was 18. In 1998, she returned to the Christian faith, and has since written many books influenced by Christianity (including the Christ the Lord series).

My initial reaction to this was a positive one--I share many of Rice's frustrations with what the American church has come to represent. Then a co-worker wisely pointed out that this frustration requires a very narrow view of what being a Christian means, and expressing it in this way may simply add fuel to the "culture wars," rather than transcending them.

So, agree with Anne Rice or not, what's your take?  Can an announcement like this from such a public figure lead to anything positive? Or is it just another divisive voice in an arena that needs peacemakers?

Comments (52)

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I understand her concerns and share many of them myself. Unfortunately, however, the trend today seems to be to point out all the right criticisms and then offering worse alternatives or bailing on the church all together. The Bible calls us Christians, so I wouldn't dismiss that name so easily. The church is always a picture of something that is broken and beautiful at the same time. The church is also God's chosen redemptive institution. Again, I share her concerns on the one hand, but believe she is taking the wrong action. As a pastor, it hits close to home as I have run into my share of church members over the years who decide to jump ship, thus worsening the problem, and not being part of the solution. The result, of course, is the church is left with only the trouble makers, etc.
Whether her objections are fair or unfair, right or wrong - the fact is, you cannot follow Christ and separate yourself from His Body. She doesn't have to call herself a Christian, but there is no such thing as a LONE follower of Christ. It's not just wrong, it's not possible. The Bible makes that clear. How do we follow Christ? By loving one another and Christ has loved us. Where is Christ found? Where two or more of his followers are gathered.

If she really is a believer, the Holy Spirit will not let her go on her own. He'll draw her back to the Body. Prayers for her.
Amy,

As I hinted at in the post, I don't buy the notion that Anne Rice is completely severing all ties with all of Christianity. It seems more like a falling out with a specific group of Christians--namely, the outspoken, fundamentalist, divisive group that is becoming more and more visible in the United States.

She uses very broad language (I'm guessing, in order to make a "splash") but I don't believe she means it quite so broadly as the language would suggest. There are many, many Christians (myself included) who are right there with her in refusing to be anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-artificial birth control, anti-Democrat, etc. So in that way, she isn't a lone follower--she is still part of a Christian community.
Every year I become a little more thrilled with the Bible. The multiple layers of wisdom contained within its pages is liberating. One of Anne Rice’s major issues has always been, both before and after her conversion, her support for homosexual marriage and homosexual relationships. Unfortunately this is an area where the Bible is clear in both old and new testament in a way that transcends culture. Homosexual people are beloved of God, homosexual practices are not. That being said however, I find no Biblical support for being anti birth control. That is a weird Catholic fetish.

The Bible heartly endorses the role of women in the church from Junia the Apostle mentioned in Romans to the many women ministry teams, prophets and teachers Paul mentions. I can understand Ann’s dismay at the Roman Catholic Church’s inability to recognize the equal priesthood of all believers. The exclusively male priesthood and it rejection of marriage is creating a toxic environment that fosters sexual perversions. The pentecostal wing of christianity, the fastest growing segment of the Church worldwide, has ordained women pastors for many decades. The Bible is neither Republican nor Democrat. And the more I read, the more I am convinced it is philosophically pro-science and is not a textbook on the particulars of creation.

Christianity is not a belief system, it is a living relationship with a personal God who is present and accessible in our space and time. The Holy Spirit, who is our daily companion, actively distributes His charismatic gifts to all who will receive them and over time this intimate relationship produces character growth that the Bible calls fruit.

As GK Chesterton says, Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried. I spent my first 20 years knowing about Him, and the last 40 years coming to know Him. I’m hoping that now that Ann Rice has been rightly disappointed by sectarian cultural christianity she will press in to know Him and search out others that know Him as well.

If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
1 Peter 4:16
I don't know that her frustration/comments are from a narrow view of what being a Christian means; aren't they rather in response to a narrow yet widely-held, broadly- brushed view of what being a Christian means? In my experience, all she lists not only describes what our non-believing culture thinks "Christian" is all about, but also what many many American Christians of the fundy/evangelical stripe would say "amen" to.
Before we criticize her and others (so many friends on my list) for "jumping ship" out of frustration. may we realize that not everyone can fight or struggle or lead, but need the encouragement and healing, the community of the church. If all that "being Christian" turns out to be on a daily or weekly basis is having to be defensive, continually the apologist, where is the healing and the support? I assume Ms. Rice will become a reclusive and extremely private believer, like many who refuse to have their faith be politicized or a point of debate. If our churches have become places where the gospel merely proof-texts a political rant, people will and should leave. It is up to church leadership to be faithful to good preaching/teaching/worship, for sake of the members.
I can understand some of Anne Rice's concerns - irritations - at the 'church', as a believer now for 38 years in a country where the church has been shaped by Anglican class conciousness & Kiwi middle class morality that extends even to cleaning the car to 'keep up appearances' - & lately a large helping of American T.V. preachers & Super churches.I am a Christian in New Zealand who is a socialist & doesn't seem to fit into the mold the institutional church has for me. But I know I belong in the Body of Christ, like Anne I may be a 'part others don't like to see' but it is Christ who joins us to The Church-His Body so what right have I to remove myself from it?
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. (NLT)
Amy, you nailed it here. That's exactly right and I couldn't agree more. What Rice is doing here is what frustrates me with a lot of people who take this line – they think that being a Christian is entirely linked to how you live. And while there is a direct link between the two – I certainly would not deny that being a Christian necessitates striving to live a holy life – the fact remains that while we are redeemed, we are still sinners and the things we do in this life will still bear the marks of that sinfulness. Christianity and the Church is fundamentally about Christ's action of drawing a people to himself, and calling them his own. It is not about us.

We're going to be quarrelsome, we're going to be hostile, we're going to be disputatious. We need to try not to, of course, but we won't be able to get it out of our systems entirely. When you take the focus off Christ and look for humanity to be righteous on its own, of course you're going to be disappointed. Praise God that our righteousness is not dependent on us! Prayers for her, indeed.
How can one remain committed to Christ and reject His Body? How can one be committed to Christ and reject His Bride? How can one be committed to Christ and reject His very own fullness (Eph. 1:22-23)?
I agree.

 

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