Novelist Anne Rice, best known for her series of novels about vampires, has some choice words for institutional Christianity:
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.
Later she added:
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.
Later still she said:
“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,” Rice wrote. “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.”
If more believers talked like that they could probably get me to convert.
What I find interesting is that she does not limit her criticism merely to certain segments of Christianity. She does not say she just needs to find a more liberal church or imply that it is only a tiny fringe element that is making everyone else looks bad. Her condemnation is sweeping.
This, to me, is a useful window into the world of contemporary American Christianity. It would seem that the marriage of Christianity to right-wing ideology is so strong and pervasive that a sincere believer like Rice no longer feels welcome there. We hear a lot about the need to empower moderate Christians in fighting battles over science education, among others. I am all in favor of doing precisely that, but I wonder if there are enough moderates left to make that an effective strategy.