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Anne Rice, the one-time self-described atheist who rose to fame writing gothic novels (The Vampire Chronicles) but in 1998 returned to the Catholic Church of her youth and went on to devote herself to writing books that expressed her rediscovered faith (i.e. the Christ the Lord books), caused a stir last week by announcing on her Facebook site that she no longer considers herself a Christian.
Later, she made it clear that she is still a follower of and believer in Jesus Christ, it’s just Christians she’s fed up with — saying she can no longer identify with a group she finds to be “quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous.” She went to say that she finds too many Christians to be, among other things, anti-gay and and anti-feminist.
She elaborated yesterday in an interview with NPR’s Michelle Norris stating “This is something that had been going on really almost from the beginning of my
conversion in 1998.” She added “From the beginning, there were signs that the
public face of Catholicism and the public face of Christianity were things that
I found very, very difficult to accept.”
She also told Norris “I didn’t anticipate at the beginning that the U.S. bishops were going to
come out against same-sex marriage,” or “That they were actually going to
donate money to defeat the civil rights of homosexuals in the secular society.”
I believe Anne Rice is a sincere woman who is sincerely troubled by what she sees as a lack of compassion within the Catholic Church and Christianity in general, particularly regarding gays and the gay marriage issue.
There are many reasons why people can be legitimately angered at the Church (not the least of which is its handling of its child sex abuse scandals). And Christians can be all the things she says we can be (quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious) — or we can be just the opposite (peaceful, tolerant, joyous). Certainly the goal is the latter set of characteristics.
But while the media tends to understandably be drawn to the headline-making negativity of the Church scandals or the acts of extremist groups like the Westboro Baptist Church (not to be confused with mainstream Baptists), it’s easy to lose sight of the everyday acts of kindness committed by good Christians in Christ’s name every day, sometimes in an organized way, often as one individual to another.
Ms. Rice’s frustration with some Christians is understandable but there are a lot of sincere, loving Christians in this world who don’t deserve to be lumped together with the worst acts of those who fail to uphold the faith’s true ideals. It’s no more right to do that to Christians than it is to hold all Muslims in disrepute because of the actions of al-Qaeda and other radical Islamic terrorists.
While it’s proper for mainstream Muslims to condemn the heinous acts of those committing murderous acts in the name of their religion, we don’t expect them to declare themselves no longer Muslim.
I think the same principle applies to Christians. It’s just not right to let the worst acts of some define the religion for all. Christians, in general, are good and kind people who honestly want to love God by serving others.
There’s nothing shameful about being a Christian.