R. Rex Parris, the Lancaster, California mayor who last year proclaimed his city to be a “Christian community,” is perhaps the practitioner of the kind of obnoxious and authoritarian Christianity that Anne Rice has decided that she simply can no longer abide. Famous for her vampire novels, Rice converted to Christianity ten years ago, but now says she’s done being a Christian:
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.
And at her Facebook account, she elaborated further, sounding akin to those conservatives like Andrew Sullivan who see the Republican Party and movement conservatism as unjust and irrational:
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.
Still, she’s not done with Jesus (who could ever be, religious or not?), for she also said this:
“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.”
So Anne Rice is a Dostoevskian follower of Jesus. I can respect that. We all have to pass by the body of Jesus, if only metaphorically, in deciding what role (if any) religious faith will play in our lives. But over the faith community, I choose the doubting community. As has, apparently, and in modified form, Anne Rice. Yet another person has given up pretending against the obvious: the emperor has no clothes.