Anne Rice declares she’s not a Christian. Still believes in Christ, just isn’t a Christian.

Yeah, I’m still trying to wrap my head around how that works if the central definition of being a Christian is believing in Christ. Of course you can start all manner of arguments among the believers by trying to nail down a definition of what a Christian is. It can be endlessly amusing if you’re bored.

Rice apparently made the announcement on her Facebook page:

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.

As I said [above], 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.

I stumbled across this over at Alan Colmes’ Liberaland and, while I’m not an Anne Rice fan by any stretch of the imagination, thought it was interesting in terms of another thread we have going here on SEB titled: A Christian asks; “I’m the bad guy?  How did that happen?” Clearly she feels that associating with Christianity makes her look bad and so she’s decided to quit the religion itself while keeping the faith in the mythical deity at its heart. I tried to do a couple of Google searches to see if there’s a growing trend of people who believe in Christ but don’t consider themselves to be Christian, but I wasn’t able to find anything with the search terms I tried.

According to her Wikipedia entry Rice was raised as a Roman Catholic and she left the church when she was 18 only to return to the fold after the death of her husband, who was apparently a passionate atheist.  However she disagreed with the Church on a number of issues including gay marriage, abortion, birth control, and priestly celibacy and allowing women to become priests. One might assume that the cognitive dissonance involved in being Roman Catholic while at the same time holding these beliefs that run counter to Church teachings may have played a rolled in her decision to declare herself an un-Christian.

I am particularly intrigued by her statement that she refuses “to be anti-secular humanism” as secular humanism is, by definition, nonreligious espousing no belief in a realm or beings imagined to transcend ordinary experience. How you can be a secular humanist believer in Christ is beyond me, but apparently she considers herself to be just that.

I tried doing a Google search to see if there’s a trend of people believing in Christ but refusing to call themselves Christian, but I was unable to come up with anything based on the search terms I tried. Based on the number of commenters on Rice’s FB page who expressed similar feelings, however, I’d suspect that it is indeed a growing trend. One person even said: “I think we should start a non-Christians for Christ group.”

It’ll be interesting to see where she goes next with this. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she once again ends up as an atheist. Some people cycle back and forth throughout their lives as they struggle to figure out what they believe.

18 thoughts on “Anne Rice declares she’s not a Christian. Still believes in Christ, just isn’t a Christian.

  1. Well, I am familiar with a few people who believe in Christ solely as a great philosopher and teacher and not as the son of any deity. One actually calls herself a Christian Atheist, but then again, she also believes in alien abduction.

  2. I just learned tonight that some people claim to be Christian Atheists. Apparently, they don’t believe in god(s) but embrace the teachings of Jesus. Maybe Anne can have her cake and eat it too – be a Christian and an atheist.

  3. Many Christians are so mainly by association with a Christian community; that’s what Rice disavows.

    The frothing fundies will have themselves tied up in knots over this. Very fitting as I just started reading Frank Schafer’s Crazy For God.

  4. The Jesus of the Gospels had no new ideas. Not to mention that we cannot really be sure that those Gospel teachings go back to his own mouth. His value as a philosopher is quite overrated.

    But to each his (or her) own. Many atheists and people of non-Christian religions, such as Gandhi or Jefferson himself (a deist), have admired Jesus and his teachings. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose. Non-denominational Christianity is growing, to my understanding.

  5. Les, here’s what she’s saying (pretty clearly, I think; you’re over-analyzing it):
    She follows Christ, so she’s a Christian in that sense. But these days, to say you’re “Christian” has a bunch of side meanings. Apart from what you believe in your religion, it’s become a socio-political statement. It puts you into a “quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious” group that hates gays, hates feminism, hates Democrats, hates secular humanism, rails against birth control, and ignores science.

    She refuses to accept any of those things, and, so, in that sense, she disavows membership in the group that has recently grabbed the term “Christian”.

    I get that, and I appreciate the sentiment.

  6. I agree with Barry, it is pretty clear. The problem we have is the infinite variety of faith out there. Each person has their own way of dealing with the cognitive dissonance of wanting to believe in something that at it’s woolliest seems so mystical, magical, fantastic to them, yet which goes against all experience and rational analysis – the cognitive dissonance being in proportion to the extent to which they can think critically.

    It’s easy to refute young earth creationist claims, based on rock solid evidence. But it’s easy for them to be so screwed up logically without suffering the CD – they simply don’t get how dumb their views are.

    It’s harder, maybe impossible, to refute the claims of theists who try to accommodate what they know of philosophy and science by becoming ever more obscure about what their faith means. They’re not dishonest – at least many aren’t, though I have my suspicions about some. I think they just don’t get the dilemma they are under; or their wishful thinking is just too overpowering

    To get a feel for how far some are from traditional religion I’d recommend listening to these clips from Bishop John Shelby Spong. He’s a great orator, so well worth listening to in his own right.

    Burke Lecture: John Shelby Spong
    Beyond Theism — John Shelby Spong
    The Future of Christianity, Part 1

    There are aspects of Spong’s theology which are just as flawed and any other theology, of course. But at least he’s building a better, less problematic religion.

    The problem remains that they still have a theism – they still believe in God. You can have two conversations with such a theist In one they will agree with virtually everything you say about experience, science, evidence, the explanations that neuroscience could be providing for their brain’s belief in God – they will admit their theology is all woolly, imprecise, unknowable stuff. But sooner or later you’ll have the second conversation, where they say very clearly that there is a God, and will proceed to tell you what he thinks we should do. Compartmentalisation.

    Then, along side Spong are what I find some of the more ridiculous ‘atheist’ theologians. Rob Bell is one of them. I’ve put a link to his video, along with a failed attempt to understand his words.

    Here’s another. Peter Rollins makes a complete bollocks of his theism within the first minute as he tries to explain why only Christians are true atheists, and atheists aren’t really because they need to say what God they don’t believe in. The perverse logic and twisting of the meaning of words in this clip shows these theists for what they are, and makes Anne Rice seem like the model of rationality.

  7. I understand what she is saying. I would recommend a book to her and anyone that shares her sentiment. The book is titled “Behold The Spirit:A study in the necessity of mystical religion” by the late great Alan Watts that he wrote back in 1946 and still holds true today probably more than ever.

  8. I believe it was on this very fine blog that Les passed on the dark mutterings of some bishop or religious aristrocracy: “People are becoming too educated. It’s taking them away from the Church.” (or words to that effect)

    Making a bunch of uneducated peasants toe the line, wear the costumes, do the hokey-pokey (but only on certain days), hate these folks, eat the foods and pay us money worked for Christianity for centuries. The religious elite had the magic power of literacy, to name the big one, and everyone nodded their head. But, now folks like Ms. Rice are going “You can’t fargin’ seriously expect me to do listen to this twaddle, can you? Let’s hear your explanations!”

    I’d accept Jesus in a paragraph listing ancient philosphers, but that would be the limit of my acknowledgement.

  9. Tim: good catch on the UCC.

    It’s good to hear Ms. Rice publicly disavowing the socio-political trends of Christianity in North America. I could never identify with any of them, or how incredibly harsh and judgmental they always appeared to be.

    I hope this means that Christianity is moving in a more mystical, internal direction. Most of the crazies can’t look in a mirror and be honest with themselves.

    Jesus, whether he is fictional or not, was a vehicle for a lot of wise ideas that preceded him. I think, if he did exist, then, like Shakespeare, he was a talented person at the right place and time – the right intersection of influences – to pull it off.

    As are we all, nowadays.

  10. There are an awful lot of incredibly confused people out there (“Christian atheists”?!) — probably the majority of Americans who self-identify as “Christian” don’t fit any reasonable definition of the term. Look how many people claim to believe in things like reincarnation or ghosts, which are utterly incompatible with the Christian world-view.

    In many cases, giving up the name “Christian” or some last feeble anchor of belief in Christ is simply too daunting — it’s the last step on the road to atheism, a step which many never feel comfortable taking. Since Rice was an atheist in the past, this is less likely to be so in her case. Maybe she really does reject only the present sociological implications of Christianity and yet still believes in God, but if so, she’s using terminology in a way that confuses her meaning.

  11. If the Jesus Christ of old were alive today, He probably wouldn’t subscribe to today’s various flavors of Christianity.

    Whereas Jesus was chronicled as a kind, tolerant, forgiving kind of guy, a lot of Christianity talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the same walk as did Jesus.

    People who say they’re Christian but don’t go to church seem akin to Rice’s viewpoint. Religion for many is a pretty personal concept, and if the groupthink of a church prompts its members to do things that go against the conscience of the individual, why shouldn’t the individual break from that group and choose to be Christian on their terms?

    As long as they’re following the basic tenets, more power to them. If a God truly does exist, and in any way resembles the one which will supposedly judge people in the supposed afterlife, it seems a safer bet for them to be true to themselves than fall in line and goosestep with Christianity at large, fighting wars that are morally questionable, laying guilt trips on people who masturbate, or stomping out homosexuals as if they weren’t human beings like everyone else.

  12. .

    If I could meet her in person, I would
    love to say “Thank you Anne Rice –
    for so very articulately stating what
    I have felt in my heart for years” !!!!

    One’s ‘Faith-in-Christ’ should IN NO WAY
    be tied into the man-controlled ‘Religion’
    that so many refer to as “Christianity”
    (especially that apostate, psuedo-religious
    political-movement called ‘evangelicalism’)

    It took me forever to realize that my
    relationship with God (as established
    through Christ Jesus, God The Son) was
    IN NO WAY dependent on the apostate
    psuedo-religious movement sweeping
    America in the name of the “church”.

    If Christ were walking the earth today,
    a lot of these same “religious” types
    would be the first to demand that He
    be ‘crucified’ — and based merely on
    who He chose as FRIENDS (women,
    gays, foreigners, immigrants, the poor,
    the rejected, the downtrodden, the rich,
    men, old, young, happy, sad, and so on).

    The “evangelicals” (not to be mistaken
    for TRUE FOLLOWERS of Christ) and
    other “church” types have essentially
    hijacked the Christian ‘Faith’ in order to
    turn it into a mammon-worshipping,
    power-mongering, “Religion” of hate.

    These people are more akin to a system of
    ANTI-CHRIST (i.e. “against”-Christ) than
    to anything tied into WHO CHRIST IS.

    Their evil has reached such profound levels
    that even people who know and love Christ
    are turned off from them and their words
    (again proving these “church” types are
    really nothing more than anti-Christ,
    self-righteous Pharisees and are not
    even remotely related to Jesus Christ).

    Never again will I waste my time stepping
    into the psuedo-religious social-club that
    is known as “church” or associate myself
    with the political-clique that is known as
    ‘christianity’ — because FROM NOW ON
    — I realize that I do NOT “need” either
    in order to have a relationship with MY
    LORD JESUS CHRIST (in fact, those
    two entities were actually ‘interfering’
    with my relationship with God)

    (no matter if rich, poor, gay, straight, male,
    female, sickly, healthy and so on) — AND
    CHRIST (not the so-called”church”) IS
    ‘THE DOOR’ and ‘THE WAY’ TO GOD!!





    “For God did NOT send His Son
    into the world – to condemn
    the world, BUT that the world,
    THROUGH HIM, might be SAVED !!!!”

    JESUS CHIST – and *not* the institution known
    as “the church” or the religion called “christianity”



  13. Hate to burst the enthusiastic bubble… but belief in Jesus is a religious belief. I’ve noticed over the years an effort by some Christians to try to suggest that it is not.

    Non-denominational or liberal Christianity are a copout. It is a bit difficult to claim to be a believer in Christ but not a believer in the community of Christians. Jesus did not write or select the books of the New Testament; the early Christian Church did. If Christians or the Christian Church are wrong then perhaps the New Testament (your only link to Jesus) is as well.

    The reality is that Christianity is as corrupt and bigoted as those who founded it. Christianity as we know it would have gotten nowhere without St. Paul and it was he who wrote the sexist, homophobic, pro-slavery bits of the New Testament. It was not Benedict XVI or Jerry Falwell. If you want to celebrate the ethical system of Jesus, as Jefferson did, go right ahead; but there is nothing original, much less supernatural, about his teachings. Merry Christmas…

  14. Let’s face it, the only evidence that Christ ever lived is the Bible. For all anyone knows Christ was just an ideal, a vehicle to make a point; but regardless of whether he was a real person or not to believe in Christ you have to believe the Bible.

    If you want to pick and choose what you want to believe out of the Bible, you might as well just toss the whole thing. If you can’t find some splinter group under the loose umbrella term “Christian” that believes roughly the same thing you do, then you’re probably doin’ it wrong anyway. Just make up your own religion and give the whole Christ thing a rest. Seems like these “Christians” would be a lot happier that way.

    I do agree with Anne Rice about wanting to get away from the Christians though, they are a backstabbing lot.

  15. @ Barry Leiba:
    @ Darth Continent:
    @ APG:

    Couldn’t agree more… Is there a NAME or a word that describes people that feel this way… That the “Christian’s” have gotten so far away from what Christ taught, and want to be known as something else? The word “Christian” means Christ-like, and I don’t think you can get any more specific than that, but I feel like the “Christians” described in the above posts are so NOT Christ-like, I don’t want to even be called that anymore, because it is so ANTI-Christ! How can you claim to follow Christ, and be HATEFUL at the same time?! Is there a place where we can all get together and join hands in support of what Christ ACTUALLY taught?

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