"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.... 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....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."
There are many things in this episode that hurt my heart and, I'm sure, the heart of God.
"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."
Her words reflect the perception that many have about Christians - that we are "anti" everything and everyone but ourselves. This is also reflected in the research behind Gabe Lyons' book, Unchristian. Much of Christianity is known more for what we oppose than for what we support. We're not known as being for the poor or the hurting or the afflicted or the disenfranchised. The sad part is that those are the ones with whom Jesus most closely identified.
"It's simply impossible for me to 'belong' to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group."
After ten years of following Christ, this is her description of Christians. How sad that this is her experience. But I know that it is the experience of many.
It is not hard to identify with Anne Rice's frustrations. I often feel the same things regarding Christians or those who pursue agendas that seem far from Christ, his purpose, and his character. But she also misses the point.
It is OK to denounce the shortcomings of Christians. It is even alright to admit that the Church has not always been all that God intended it to be. But you cannot take Christ without his Body - the Church. Yes, we are an imperfect lot. Yes, we often show more of the works of the flesh than the fruit of the Spirit. But the Church is Christ's body in our world. It is established by him and loved by him. And we need to take our part in it and work with God to accomplish his purpose through it.
What are your thoughts as you read Anne Rice's comments?
Primary thought: what community did Ms. Rice involve herself with? What she describes sounds like the Christianity of internet message boards and that one church in Kansas. Doesn't sound at all like my church, or my parents' church, or either of my sisters' churches. Sad that she didn't find that.
Most Christians that I interact with feel the way she does about negative, intolerant "Christian" culture, but we manage to find churches that are not like that. I wonder what more we should do to fix the perception, or better yet fix the bad church culture at the source. Usually we just try to do what we ought, and hopefully, presumably, if enough of us do that, then the perceptions will follow. Unfortunately, the more radical views, even of a minority, are what get air time.
I have a friend who is a member of a church that he thinks is on the right track. That friend says that if not for that particular church, he might not go to church at all. He would be an Ann Rice. I don't know how many nearby churches he's visited lately, but he at least has the perception that there wouldn't be another one good enough.
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