Author Anne Rice recently decried Christianity and officially announced her exit from organized religion.
Rice was fairly blunt about her reasons for leaving the church, laying it out pretty clearly in a Facebook post. “My faith in Christ is central to my life,” Rice writes. “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.”
Rice’s proclamation has of course created quite a stir, drawing observations from everyone from Deepak Chopra to the LA Times. Rice has posted many of the letters, articles and essays on her Facebook page, where she continues to comment on the matter, and stated that “Comments pro and con are welcome.” The responses vary from insightful and thought-provoking to grr-inducing. Though there has of course been the expected backlash, Rice is also getting support from some unlikely camps, including a Baptist preacher who identifies with her decision and says it was “a great call for others to follow Christ, too.”
As the Miami Herald puts it, Rice just delivered a wake up call for organized religion.
You go, girl.
Religion is supposed to bring one into harmony with the universe, but somehow organized religion, with its eternal entanglement in political power struggles, seems to lead time and again into conflict. Organized religion definitely has a knack for holding up hate in one hand and love in the other, for committing heinous acts in the name of religion, for masking hatred with morality; The Taliban, the Inquisition, abortion clinic bombings, witch burnings, The Crusades and Westboro Baptist Church serve as just a few examples of this. The hypocrisy in the system goes all the way to the Pope , who does, incidentally resemble the Emperor in Star Wars.
Which isn’t to say that organized religion doesn’t strive to do good. There are a lot of good Christians. There are good people and bad people in any organization, faith, race, religion, class, culture, restaurant, bar, or parking lot. And in a way, the dual nature of organized religion, with its life/death love/hate mantras, only echoes the dual nature of the universe itself. But one has to admit a discord in a system that preaches not to kill, not to hate, not to judge, yet does just that, and with a fair amount of enthusiasm to boot.
One of my favorite bumper stickers reads ‘Please God, save me from your people.’
I think a lot of people confuse spirituality and God with religion, when really, they’re entirely different things, and there is no single right choice, just the right choice for an individual. Everyone has to find their own way, their own beliefs, and I applaud anyone who realizes that their path is not the brightly lit, billboard-plastered highway of the masses, but the quiet footpath that leads down an unknown forest trail. For that, truly, is the sacred journey.
“I quit being a Christian,” Rice writes. “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.”