Anne Rice Still Believes in Nonsense

Anne Rice, the author of Interview with the Vampire and several other vampire-y books, once made headlines for returning to the Roman Catholic Church.

Yesterday, she made headlines for posting the following on Facebook:

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 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.

In other words, she’s not a “Christian.” She’s a “follower of Christ.” Don’t you feel better now…?

This isn’t really news to me.

I’m thrilled she’s not anti-gay/feminist/science/etc. But educated people like her don’t get bonus points for being tolerant and rational. That’s just to be expected.

When she tells me she’s stopped believing in God, the Resurrection, the Virgin Birth, and the existence of Heaven and Hell, I’ll pay more attention.

***Update***: I wrote this in the comments, but I’ll say it here, too. I don’t like it when people distance themselves from “Christianity” because many of its followers hold unpopular views.

That’s like me saying:

“I quit being an atheist. I refuse to be a dick. I refuse to treat religion with contempt. I refuse to be anti-clergy. I refuse to be anti-Republican. I am done with atheism!

Oh, and by the way, I don’t believe in god.

Anne Rice is a Christian. She’s trying not to be a jerky Christian, which is all well and good, but she comes off sounding like she’s above the fray when, really, she believes in much of the same (nonsensical) things that all other Christians believe.

I think many of the commenters are right in that the post went overboard in criticizing her when that shouldn’t have been the focus. My bad. I’ll try to do better next time.

  • Don

    It’s a start.

  • Karen

    It sounds friendlier though, you have to admit that. I’m not sure what you or others find wrong with following some kind of guru to represent the way you want to live your life. Some people find it in Christ, some in the Buddha, others elsewhere. There has always been myth because we think in symbols. If she wants to be more Christ-like, hey, more power to her. Whatevah floats ya is fine by me. Just be nice and don’t bother me about it.

  • lurker111

    I can’t see how any novelist or fiction writer could believe the Bible. The story fix-ups in it should be obvious even to the amateur writer. They’re the same fix-ups used by the writer in making consistent his or her own prose. Strange.

  • http://twitter.com/achura Rooker

    No. You’re badly out of line here.

    This person publicly severed relations with her religion and strongly denounced the bigoted attitudes it fosters and your reaction is a childish “who cares?”

    You know that speech Phil Plait gave a couple weeks ago? You know, the one everybody’s calling the “Don’t be a dick” speech? You should – you were there when it happened. Maybe you should have paid a little more attention.

  • http://leavesandflowers.webs.com Bailey

    Karen,

    I think the issue most of us have with “following some kind of guru” is that it promotes uncritical thinking, obedience to an outmoded and demonstrably false worldview that -even if it is “friendlier” -is steeped in thousands of years of innocent blood, and it’s just stupid. No one needs a guru to be a good person, and just because there have always been myths doesn’t mean we should honor or follow them. The Christian myths are from a tribal, warlike, patriarchal, primitive culture, and many of them are morally repugnant. Just because Anne Rice likes the Jesus character doesn’t excuse the source or make him a real figure.

    I like Anne Rice, but I’m with lurker111. I am a creative writing major, and my knowledge of writing tropes, mythological stories, archetypes, etc. provided literary reasons to reject the Bible, even as logic and science and skepticism gave me plenty of other reasons to reject it.

  • http://www.takedeadaimontherichkids.blogspot.com alice

    “In the moment of surrender, I let go of all the theological or social questions which had kept me from [God] for countless years. I simply let them go. “(from that Wikipedia article linked to above)

    I guess she just decided to stop thinking one morning for some reason.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    I think Miss Rice is going through what I was going through a few years ago. I wasn’t so public with it as she was – my family doesn’t know that I’m not a Christian anymore. It’s the first thing I started to think about before I left the church and god behind entirely. I didn’t want to be what the church was – anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-usw – and I felt out of place there. I left, and decided to just follow the tenets of Christ according to the Bible.

    Took me six years or so to break free even of that part of it. If she’s going through a trial in her life, the only thing that should be done is encouragement and compassion, something I never had while going through it.

  • Trace

    “the Virgin Birth,” must be true. My parents having sex? big ewww.

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    That’s one way it starts.

  • hitch

    I give her some credit. After all many christians never reject the hostility of their fellow believers.

  • http://www.DangerousTalk.net DangerousTalk

    I think your analysis is short-sighted. Yeah, she is a “follower of Christ,” but she sees Christianity as immoral. That is a very big first step. It is an acknowledgment that morals don’t come from God. She also mentioned Secular Humanism and that might help move her back toward atheism.

    Here is my article talking about her split. I will probably write more on this down the road.

  • Seeker

    I’m with Rooker on this one and make no apologies for it.

    You are a teacher. You should know that repetition is the mother of all knowledge. Also that what she did will cost her dearly in her social, emotional and possibly fiscal condition. She is giving away a lot by doing this so publicly, enough I guess to not give a damn if she impressed some atheist blogger or not.

    What I’m angry about your attitude is that it’s arrogant. If it was harsh or militant, that would be cool. Arrogant though drives away people and that’s not something atheism can afford to do. Reality is harsh already, no need for us to make it more so for those who try to embrace it.

  • Steve

    Isn’t that we often ask of radical Christians? Stop being so hypocritical and dogmatic and behave more like Jesus actually might have? I think that’s what she is getting at here.

    I agree that that can certainly be expected to be simply normal behavior for everyone, but those people aren’t necessarily rational.

    And I really don’t mind of someone believes in God or whatever else. I may think it’s a waste of time, but as long as that belief doesn’t manifest itself in hatred, intolerance and they don’t force their religion on other people, I don’t care so much.

  • tim

    I’m thrilled she’s not anti-gay/feminist/science/etc. But educated people like her don’t get bonus points for being tolerant and rational. That’s just to be expected.

    I don’t know where she was educated. I’ve seen her interviewed and she is clearly intelligent and thoughtful. But she is an author of fantasy books. I really don’t care what her personal beliefs are. And neither should you. Are her books interesting? If so I will continue to read her works. If not I will read something else.

  • cypressgreen

    She’s had a lot of personal pain in her life, which is reflected in Lestat’s and Louis’ challenges and philosophy, and in her own religious choices.

    But while I consider many to be “spiritual seekers”, she seems more like a “spiritual weathervane” to me.

  • Shannon

    I think that’s fantastic! Good for her!

  • http://www.skunque.com Skunque

    I agree with earlier posters – there’s such a problem with Christians not taking their own to task when they behave disgracefully, that Rice’s statement is a real breath of fresh air. It might even (in a way) be better than switching over to out-and-out atheism, as it’s easier to criticize when you’re not part of the in-group. Rice can be, if she chooses, a model of behavior for Christians who are uneasy with the actions of some of their coreligionists.

    What she may or may not believe in private is honestly her own business. As long as she’s not (for example) encouraging others to avoid seeing doctors, I think this should be taken as a net gain.

  • alex

    Anti-life? I thought it was fundie speak for pro-choice. She quit being pro-choice? WTF?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    If all religious people adopted her position, I would be a happy person. It matters not to me if they don’t take that last step.

  • Steven

    The cynical part of me wonders if this step by Anne Rice is a precursor to writing more “vampire” books. I haven’t read any of her recent efforts but I suspect that they are not quite as lucrative. Considering the current vampire-friendly culture it would be pretty tempting to dive back into that genre. Of course, I may be doing the author a grave injustice and I really don’t want to doubt her sincerity. It will be interesting to see which direction her writing takes.

  • JD

    If you’re with Anne Rice, do a mental exercise. If a prominent Muslim said that he/she is no longer a follower of Islam but is now a “follower of Allah”, would that make you more comfortable about it? I don’t doubt this can be a tough decision, but I would be uncomfortable with such a declaration. For one thing, it’s not really true, because the basic beliefs are still being followed. Christian means “follower of Christ”, to say you’re one but not the other looks very silly at best. It’s just like saying she doesn’t have a religion, because she follows Jesus, which is too common and too silly of a statement.

    There are more moderate and liberal forms of Christianity.

  • Alex

    I think a few posters have it right. This is a big step for a believer to let go of the hateful aspects of what is supposed to be a positive, uplifting thing. Rice’s statement reminded me of John Shelby Spong, the liberal Christian former bishop of the Episcopal Church in Newark, NJ. His take on faith, in a nutshell, is if you are hurting anyone with your faith, you are doing it wrong. You may not believe in the supernatural aspects of his faith, but it is hard to figure out how it does much harm. Congratulations, Anne. Just a little way to go…

  • Steve

    @JD
    Taking it literally, you are correct and I really understand your point.

    But it’s also a fact that so many who claim to be followers of Christ (or Muhammed) are actually very unlike them. Their prophet would probably be disgusted at a lot of their behavior. I think we should look at what she means and feels instead of clinging to a literal interpretation of her words. It may not make perfect sense, but the right sentiment is there.

  • mdcurler

    She still writes awesome Erotica! The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty books are a favourite of me and the wife!

  • David

    It also disturbs me when someone says they refuse to be anti-Democrat or anti-Republican. Being that beholden to a political party (any political party) is the anti-intellectual approach to Governmental issues.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @JD:

    It is a huge step forward at least. She’s a prominent woman and has publicly denounced the church for it’s bigoted nature. I agree that she does need to go a bit further, but I am full of encouragement for her.

    @David:

    Most conservative Christians are anti-Democrat Republicans. Saying she refuses to be anti-Democrat is a good thing, means she’s not going to allow blind dogma to sway her political decisions.

  • DeafAtheist

    I gotta agree with a lot of what others have said here. I think it’s a great first step for Anne Rice. She may never give up her belief in God in her lifetime, but the fact that she sees the church for the hypocritical, intolerant, and immoral institution it is and wants no place in it anymore is a commendable step in the right direction even if she still believes in nuttery. It’s unfortunate that more believers don’t see their churches, mosques, synagogues, etc for the archaic and hypocritical institutions they are. Perhaps with someone as public as Anne Rice making such a statement many of her Christian fans will follow suit.

    So we’re not giving her bonus points for being tolerant and rational. We’re giving her bonus points for deciding to leave an institution that is neither of those things

  • Kimber

    Here’s my issue. Yay she gave up belonging to the hate group that is xtianity. Cudos to her. If she wants to follow the teachings of Christ, great, I think a lot of the things he taught were quite helpful to peacefully sharing a planet with divergent groups of peoples. However, you’re not advancing the cause of atheism by looking down on her for doing so. I don’t know much about atheism, but etymologically speaking it should be a personal choice to not believe in a deity. You sound more like an anti-theist which I fail to see as different from xtians. It’s still a belief system that is intolerant of others’ belief systems. How is someone believing in a “guru” or “deity” in any way crippling to their ability to apply critical thinking or intellectual reasoning to an issue? I’m a Wiccan. This doesn’t make me an irrational feather head.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Good for Anne Rice. She might just inspire some others to leave a destructive, mysoginistic, homophobic, anti-rational, anti-science religion in favour of something a bit more compassionate. Some might even go so far as to leave all kinds of religious faith altogether.

    That’d be grand.

  • DaveDandy

    Wow, we ask Muslims and Christians to come out and speak up against the atrocities done in the name of their religion and when one does we criticize her for it. That’s too bad.

  • Mel

    It’s a start. Good for her for putting it out there, and getting some of her readers to question their beliefs even a little bit. We can’t all quit cold turkey!

  • Sue

    For me, separating myself from the Church was an important step along the way to becoming an atheist. With any luck, Anne is heading in the same direction.

  • slantrhyme

    For once, I would have to say you could be a little friendlier. I’m a massive fan, but this came off as a big ‘ole stick of fundamentalist atheism. Calm down and stop prescribing litmus tests. Hell, even I believe in “Christ” sorta kinda in my own way….(I think he may have existed and if he did he had some good ideas about evolving/advancing human consciousness).

    It’s rather odd, but you brought it to our attention just to tell us your not impressed and not paying attention?

    Chill…..she’s on her way. Don’t scare the living S**T out of her by being another arm of the theology police.

  • http://thishollowearth.wordpress.com/ Victor

    It is a first step. But, what does being being “committed to Christ” mean if you don’t like what’s in the Christian Bible? Being a liberal Christian is not being a Christian to her? It looks like she’s just playing word games. If she’s denying the parts of the Bible she doesn’t like, then I hope she comes to the conclusion that the ideas of a god appearing on earth and divine revaluation given to a select few individuals must have some inherent problems. Until she does, I think she’s going to be very confused about what is or is not real in the world.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Victor:

    It is a first step. But, what does being being “committed to Christ” mean if you don’t like what’s in the Christian Bible? Being a liberal Christian is not being a Christian to her? It looks like she’s just playing word games. If she’s denying the parts of the Bible she doesn’t like, then I hope she comes to the conclusion that the ideas of a god appearing on earth and divine revaluation given to a select few individuals must have some inherent problems. Until she does, I think she’s going to be very confused about what is or is not real in the world.

    It is hard to reconcile. For about six years I struggled with my own beliefs – I considered myself a Christian, but I only really believed in a few choice parts of the Bible. I believed in the major tenets of Christianity – but felt that the OT was a lot of allegory. Slowly the shell of Christianity started dropping from me as I argued my points and thought hard on them. God’s existence, Jesus’s divinity, the nature of the universe. I watered down Christianity to a point where it was basically ‘I think I should treat people nicely.’ Someone had to thwack my nose with ‘that’s just being a nice person, not a Christian’ before I got it.

  • Rich Wilson

    Has she said she believes in the virgin birth etc? Or is she a follower-of-christ-the-moralist-sermon-on-the-mount-guy?

    Big difference.

    And I strongly suspect we ALL end up believing something beyond the evidence. I don’t see how her declaring herself a follower of Christ hurts anyone else. Heck, I’m a ‘follower’ of Christopher Hitchens. Doesn’t mean I think he walks on water.

  • Chas

    If a prominent Muslim said that he/she is no longer a follower of Islam but is now a “follower of Allah”, would that make you more comfortable about it?

    Yes definitely -IF it was accompanied by statements that they were renouncing Jihad, the anti-feminist aspects, anti-free speech and other Muslim dogma in the way Rice is renouncing bigoted Christian dogma.

  • Erp

    When she tells me she’s stopped believing in God, the Resurrection, the Virgin Birth, and the existence of Heaven and Hell, I’ll pay more attention.

    Actually I know a self-described Christian albeit Unitarian who doesn’t believe in a physical resurrection, virgin birth, or an afterlife. His definition of God is pantheistic. The virgin birth and a bodily resurrection does get dropped by a fair number of regular Christians (just don’t tell the authorities:-).

    Though given what she has said so far she could probably fit in with the Episcopalians (she wouldn’t even need to give up ritual, high church Episcopalians can outdo many Roman Catholics on that).

  • http://skeptigirl.wordpress.com Kimbo Jones

    Holy crap, Hemant. I echo what others have said above: the sentiment is more important than the literal interpretation of her words. She’s a public figure who came out against the church for it’s bigotry and others should be encouraged to do the same, not berated for not going “full atheist”. Come on. You are demanding too much of people and not giving any positive reinforcement whatsoever for the baby steps in between.

  • Jessica

    I think this is great! I grew up reading her books and was very disappoint when she converted back the Christianity. She went through a lot when her husband died but it did surprise me as her son( also a good writer) is gay. She still has a lot of influence over a wide audience, which now includes Christians as her last few books have been religious. I am glad she is speaking out against organize religion. It’s a start.

  • NorDog

    ” Rice’s statement reminded me of John Shelby Spong, the liberal Christian former bishop of the Episcopal Church in Newark, NJ. His take on faith, in a nutshell, is if you are hurting anyone with your faith, you are doing it wrong. You may not believe in the supernatural aspects of his faith, but it is hard to figure out how it does much harm. Congratulations…”

    For the record, Spong does not believe in the supernatural aspects of his faith.

    Reading his “twelve theses” should lead one to conclude that he is in fact an atheist.

    Not sure what he means when he says “God”, but he certainly rejects the supernatural, so maybe he means something like the “ontological physical reality of our existence” or something like that. Hard to say.

  • Bridget

    You are being rather judgmental yourself there aren’t you? As many others state, it’s a step & the fact that she doesn’t want to HATE is what matters. That’s all I ask of human beings, be open to others & treat them well. THAT is being spiritual!

  • Greg

    Is it just me, or is this a sort of reverse no true Scotsman?

    She’s still a Christian, she just wants to disassociate herself with certain other Christians. Personally I’d prefer it if she was just honest about it, and tried to convince other Christians to behave the same way. On the other hand, it does suggest a victory for secular ethics that people are starting to wake up and want to be separate from the disgusting things in the Bible.

    Of course, that is taking her words at face value – it might be that she would rather make a more complete split from Christianity, but is afraid of the consequences of coming straight out and saying it… and I have no problem with that.

  • William

    Hey, she can believe in whatever she wants. So long as she’s not part of the political agenda of shoving a bible down everyone’s throat, she’s ok in my book. I’m not anti-Christian. I’m anti-Christianist.

  • Kyle Marquis

    Eh, I’ll take it. I’ve seen this path before. Step 1 is rejecting the dogma and abandoning solidarity with one’s (often hateful) fellow Christians. Step 2 is trying to “be like Christ” and–very often, from what I’ve seen–realizing that without 2000 years of hierarchy and attempts to civilize the religion, Christianity is an ultra-radical mystic philosophy that you can’t follow if you want to remain a part of civilization. At that point civilization becomes more appealing than being “Christ-like” and people wander into harmless variations of deism, pantheism, or atheism.

  • fRiar

    Man, you sure have become a lot more unfriendly. What more do you want from her? Does she need to literally burn down a church for you to be happy?

  • Brian

    Sounds like good news to me.

    “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ” – Gandhi

  • prospera

    C’mon, Hemant,

    I thought your goal was to promote tolerance and understanding… NOT conformity.

    You said in another recent post:

    For example, with the recent post about Christian apologies to the GLBT community, I like those Christians. I don’t care if they’re Christian. I don’t even care if they think homosexuality is immoral if they agree with me that homosexuals deserve equal rights, including the right to marry.

    Your statement here seems to contradict that. Did I misunderstand?

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  • dave

    I’m with a lot of others. Her beliefs aren’t totally rational, but this is a start. I doubt any of us who were raised religious, just dumped those beliefs over night. One step at a time…

    And to those bashing Hemant… Ease up folks. He’s the “friendly atheist”. Not the “always perfectly friendly at all times, never with a harsh word to anyone atheist”. I think his response is a lot “nicer” than it could have been (think Hitchens or Dillahunty).

    Just sayin…

  • mouse

    Anne Rice will never be rational and tolerant. Just ask her fans.

  • jose

    It’s good news isn’t it? She’s embracing modern society and will keep her god for herself as a private, personal matter. If only more religious people did the same instead of trying to replace democracy and science with their faith!

  • Hitch

    I’m tempted to call True Scotman a bogus fallacy. In fact the claim that it’s a fallacy is kind of another fallacy.

    People should be allowed to define who they see as in-group as long as they can articulate the differences. Clearly the difference has been articulated here so no fallacy.

    And if a scotsman says that a hostile scot is not a “true” scotsman, they imply with “true” non-hostility as value they accept for scotsman. It’s rhetoric ambiguity much more than a flaw in logic.

    But somehow true scotsman has become a really prominent “fallacy” in atheism/theism arguments, mostly because people try to corner each others on labels (rather than debate content). But the real fallacy is that labels are replaceable, so it’s silly to try to dismiss someone on labels.

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  • p.s.

    I realize I’m echoing alot of people here but…
    Hemant, Aren’t you always saying that christians need to publicly denounce the bad practices of their religion? Isn’t this exactly what you wanted? I think she should be held up as an example of people who can still keep their faiths but not be dicks to everyone else.

    Honestly, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if she actually read this blog. You asked, and she provided.

    Maybe in super happy fairy land everyone agrees with you, but can’t we be happy when people do the right thing, regardless of their belief system?

  • Aj

    We hear “I’m a follower of Christ, not a Christian” from Christians a lot, as well as “I’m spiritual, not religious”, which is more about re-branding than substantive change. I’m glad she’s changed her political views to ones that more agree with me. It’s also great that, as I and many others ask, she distances herself from harmful organisations such as the Roman Catholic Church, she seems to have gone one better and distanced herself from all organised Christianity. Sure, it’s not impressive, but when a dog stops shitting on a carpet, you should pay attention and encourage them.

  • Milosmom

    I’m also repeating a lot of other posters, but I have to agree with them on this one; it is a huge step to acknowledge and reject the hateful things religions do. I could not care less what another person believes, but when they use that belief as justification to do awful things, I lose my ability to support their choice in religion.

    I’m glad that someone as publicly religious as Anne Rice is rejecting the church’s actions without losing whatever her faith means to her.

  • http://www.DangerousTalk.net DangerousTalk
  • http://www.michaelwtaft.com Mike

    Hemant- it’s time to read over your “what is a friendly Atheist” question in your FAQ. I know you spend a lot of time seeing the worst religion can do, and that often can make a logical person very angry. But you created this blog as an outreach to fellow seekers of truth and happiness, sort of a “we’re not that different, you and I” kind of thing. And now?

    When we often criticize religion, it’s when they damn us to hell, simply because we do not accept their god. Our actions are left out of the equation. If you damn Anne Rice for rejecting the evil parts of religion, the hate, the arrogance, then you are no better.

  • http://theinternetstopshere.blogspot.com Mark W

    I despise Anne Rice on an incredibly visceral level. She’s self-important, arrogant, and a terrible writer.

    All these things aside, however:
    I remember Greta Christina asking the question: “If your softball league or your children’s school did what the Catholic Church is doing, you’d quit in outrage. So why are you still Catholic?”

    This doesn’t necessarily suggest “The Church is evil, ergo, there is no god.” But…merely that we shouldn’t be supporting organizations that base their existence upon the subjugation of others.

    Of course, regardless of who you are, you have the right to support whomever you want. Whether or not it means anything that she has decided to eschew church while still “being a Christian,” her statement is exactly what the people outside of the RCC have been saying for years.

    I’m gagging as I type this, but I think we should *gick* support Anne *gag* Rice in her decision.

    Ugh. It feels so dirty having a common ground with her. It’s almost as bad as when Sean Hannity was admonishing people from WBC.

  • Derek

    If this is friendly atheism then I’ll keep away from it. I don’t think any of your have checked out the good stuff that the Christian faith has done over the centuries. never mind. I don’t expect a positive response.
    As for Anne Rice, she never really became a Catholic as is evidenced by the rant. She’s a female version of Tony Blair. For some strange reason they both ‘converted’ to a religious practice without embracing the fundamentals.
    Still amazes me that anybody would become a Catholic. Everybody hates us, misguided or otherwise. Perhaps that’s a sign that the Catholic Church truly is from God. It was certainly the evidence in the early church.
    ‘many will hate you on account of my name’ said Jesus Christ.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    @prospera –

    You said in another post:

    For example, with the recent post about Christian apologies to the GLBT community, I like those Christians. I don’t care if they’re Christian. I don’t even care if they think homosexuality is immoral if they agree with me that homosexuals deserve equal rights, including the right to marry.

    Your statement here seems to contradict that. Did I misunderstand?

    I think this is different. In the previous post, those Christians are still “Christians” — they don’t try to hide it — but they’re specifically fighting for equal rights for GLBT people. Good for them.

    I think what got to me when I read these posts from Rice is how she’s trying to distance herself from certain elements of evangelical Christianity (which is great) but also trying to distance herself from Christianity altogether while still admitting to being a Christian. I find that to de dishonest and deceptive. She accepts Christian doctrine. Admit it.

    That’s like me saying:

    I quit being an atheist. I refuse to be a dick. I refuse to treat religion with complete contempt. I refuse to be anti-clergy. I refuse to be anti-Republican. I am done with atheism!

    Oh, and by the way, I don’t believe in god.

  • p.s.

    I think what got to me when I read these posts from Rice is how she’s trying to distance herself from certain elements of evangelical Christianity (which is great) but also trying to distance herself from Christianity altogether while still admitting to being a Christian. I find that to de dishonest and deceptive. She accepts Christian doctrine. Admit it.

    But she does admit it. Openly. She says amen at the end of her post, she still believes in god, she still follows christ. When I read her post, it seemed like she was saying the christian religious institution had finally proven too bigoted and immoral for her be a part of. I really don’t understand how she is being deceptive.

  • Becky

    I agree with the other commenters; I dislike religion because of the hate, fear, and misogyny it implies… when someone abandons those principles, it makes no difference what they want to believe.

  • p.s.

    one more thing:

    I quit being an atheist. I refuse to be a dick. I refuse to treat religion with complete contempt. I refuse to be anti-clergy. I refuse to be anti-Republican. I am done with atheism!

    Oh, and by the way, I don’t believe in god.

    That is not the same at all. Atheism is not a religious institution, or an institution of any kind. There is nothing wrong with being christian and not a part of a christian institution.
    And what about the brights? the secular humanists? are they dishonest and deceptive as well?

  • http://irenedelse.wordpress.com/ Irene Delse

    I for one think Anne Rice made a huge progress: sure, she still has wacky beliefs, but at least, she stopped believing in imposing on others the consequences of her religion (i.e. homophobia, misogyny, etc.). What she said there lacked logic because she confuses the RCC and Christianity (a common failure among Catholics), but I took it to mean that she leaved organized religion while keeping her belief in Christ.

  • Greg

    Hitch – I’m guessing that comment was addressed to me (although as I said, this strikes me more as a reverse No True Scotsman). ;)

    When I talk about the No True Scotsman fallacy, I am talking about dictionary definitions, and people trying to alter them to exclude people they don’t want to be associated with. It would be like me trying to claim that people who believe in ghosts (but not god) aren’t atheists, because they still believe in the supernatural. I’d just be plain wrong.

    People do, however, often misunderstand what the No True Scotsman actually says and when thus misused, it probably isn’t a fallacy. Essentially, it is pointing out that words have meanings, and unless we enforce the meanings of these words, we can’t have a conversation. Millions of people associate with a label like, say, ‘Christian’, but if they all have a different meaning for that label, all you are left with is confusion.

    Just because someone is able to articulate differences doesn’t mean that they have articulated the differences.

    If someone tells me they are a Christian, then I am going to assume that they believe in Jesus Christ – including, but not limited to, that he is the son of a god called Yahweh. That’s because that is what the term means. I can ask questions to find out just what exactly their belief entails, but if I decide not to do so, it’s still reasonable for me to assume they don’t believe in the Norse gods.

    I’d just like to add, that I find these comments claiming Hemant is not being friendly rather odd. I mean, this appears to be the offending phrase:

    I’m thrilled she’s not anti-gay/feminist/science/etc. But educated people like her don’t get bonus points for being tolerant and rational. That’s just to be expected.

    Personally, if he’d said anything else, gushing about how delighted he was etc. etc., I’d think he was being condescending.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    I don’t understand why what someone else believes is an issue. It should be known by now that we are never going to be able to eliminate all silliness from the human race.
    How about we just insist that those who do believe in silliness keep it to themselves and out of our wallets, our schools, our bedrooms and our government? For me, it’s never been about social engineering. It’s all about not being f*cked with by ANYONE…including other atheists.
    It seems that this is exactly what Ms. Rice proposes. She’s good people in my book. Bravo for her!!!

  • Canadiannalberta

    Huh. I would have thought this was a good thing.

  • VXbinaca

    Ann Rice is a liberal Christian. She doesn’t appear to think highly (and neither do I for that matter) of the Tea Party. Probably voted for Obama. Fine, whatever thats her right.

    But she’s a Christian, and like the update to this post says, she still believes in the virgin birth and hell. Shes just distancing herself from Republicans.

    Post should read: “Ann Rice distances herself from conservative believers”

    I don’t see how she can still be Christian after filling her (admittedly quality compared to sparkle peen) vampire books with such copious amounts of thinly veiled homoeroticism.

  • p.s.

    I don’t see how she can still be Christian after filling her (admittedly quality compared to sparkle peen) vampire books with such copious amounts of thinly veiled homoeroticism.

    waa? why not? fta:

    I refuse to be anti-gay

    I don’t understand why she can’t be christian and support equal rights.

  • VXbinaca

    @p.s.

    It’s the focus on some of the things in her books (specifically with Lestat) that are a bit suspicious. I’d have to reed them again it’s been a long time.

  • p.s.

    vxbinaca:

    It’s the focus on some of the things in her books (specifically with Lestat) that are a bit suspicious. I’d have to reed them again it’s been a long time.

    what are you objecting to? She’s not anti-gay, whats wrong with her writing books with some homoeroticism? if she’s ok with homoeroticism, what’s wrong with writing about any other sexual behavior? I’m not a huge fan of her books, but whatever tickles your pickle.

  • T

    I have been in contact with Anne online for a few months now. She is a wonderful woman. Her strugle has been long and hard on her. It was not an easy decesion for her. She still believe’s in Christ but refuses to play “follow the leader” with orginized religions heirarcy.

  • Caroline

    One can certainly take issue with her phrasing, especially given the fact she’s a rather famous published author and probably could have come up with something better than the short blurb she left on her Facebook wall, but I really appreciate her just coming out and saying it at all.

    The Catholic Church is quick to jump on pop-culture figures who either convert or revert to Catholicism. I remember all the blog posts when she declared her return to the Church. Now she’s publicly calling them out on their teaching on homosexuality. Good for her.

    I can’t even begin to imagine her pain having to be subjected to the sheer nastiness that abounds among Catholic and non-Catholic Christian bloggers about homosexuality.

    I can see where she’s had enough and, while not rejecting the spirit of Christ’s words and example, finally and publicly told the Catholic Church to piss off.

  • VXbinaca

    what are you objecting to?

    Nothing really just commenting.

    She’s not anti-gay

    I know.

    whats wrong with her writing books with some homoeroticism?

    Nothing. It’s just the amount of time spent on it in some pages is a bit long for someone of her faith.

  • Caroline

    She was raised Catholic, left the Church, and then returned after she’d written her last LeStat book, hadn’t she?

    Also, her only son is gay. From the beginning of her return to the Church, she openly proclaimed herself at odds with the Church’s teaching re: homosexuality.

    Even while she was okay calling herself a Christian, she wasn’t accepting their teachings on homosexuality, so if she was still writing that character and those books during her brief return to the Church, she still wouldn’t have been behaving hypocritically.

  • p.s.

    It’s just the amount of time spent on it in some pages is a bit long for someone of her faith.

    why? christians can like sex too :p

  • VXbinaca

    why? christians can like sex too :p

    Most of the time they sure don’t act like it :p

    @Caroline:

    Thanks for the information that gives a lot of context. I get it now.

  • p.s.

    Most of the time they sure don’t act like it :p

    most of the time, they don’t renounce the christian institution either.
    Also, what Caroline said :)

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    From her Facebook:

    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 can’t figure out what the heck she’s trying to say. She’s still a Christian. But instead of simply calling out the bigotry she sees in Christianity, she’s letting the bigots win. She’s refusing to use the word to describe herself, yet she still has the exact same theological beliefs. I don’t know. The whole announcement seems kind of pretentious, like she’s making a big show out of grandstanding.

    If she does believe that Jesus is a deity, she’s still part of the club. Why is she letting herself be run out of the club? Disagreeing over politics doesn’t mean disagreeing over basic theology. I see nothing that indicates she’s questioning the existence of God, the divinity of Jesus, the morality of heaven and hell, etc.

  • http://blog.dc-agape.com jgp3434

    Actually her argument about the difference between being a Christian and being a follower of Jesus is justifiable. The teachings of Jesus are not the same as the teaching of the Church. Since Paul’s writings have superseded the teachings of Jesus, the Church is no longer following Jesus. The organization (that is anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-Democratic, etc) is not following Jesus. Anne Rice seems to have recognized this.

    “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” Ghandi

  • p.s.

    Anna:

    he whole announcement seems kind of pretentious, like she’s making a big show out of grandstanding.

    Why is that bad? She is a prominent christian, and she is speaking against some of the silly things christians do. Good for her.

    If she does believe that Jesus is a deity, she’s still part of the club. Why is she letting herself be run out of the club? Disagreeing over politics doesn’t mean disagreeing over basic theology. I see nothing that indicates she’s questioning the existence of God, the divinity of Jesus, the morality of heaven and hell, etc.

    You said she is still part of the club, but she is “letting herself get run out of the club” at the same time. Thats a bit contradictory. And faith can be personal, I don’t think she needs to be part of any “club”. Take politics. I can agree with some republican things and still be democrat. I can be an independent and consistently vote democrat. What you believe does not always dictate what organizations you belong to.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Why is that bad? She is a prominent christian, and she is speaking against some of the silly things christians do. Good for her.

    Except that she’s claiming she’s no longer a Christian. It would make more sense if she were to say: “I am a Christian, and those bigots do not speak for me.” Instead, she’s disassociating herself from her fellow believers while still maintaining the exact same beliefs.

    The whole thing strikes me as disingenuous, like she’s putting on a big show. I’m sure she’s sincere, but given that she’s claiming she’s no longer a Christian, any Christians out there are less likely to consider her point of view and are free to completely discount anything she has to say. She carries no more weight with them.

    She doesn’t get to stand up as an example of a tolerant, progressive Christian because she herself is saying she isn’t one. She has the same beliefs, but she’s playing around with semantics. She doesn’t like the way her fellow Christians act, so she’s decided to call herself something different. It doesn’t change the fact that she still believes Jesus is a deity.

    You said she is still part of the club, but she is “letting herself get run out of the club” at the same time. Thats a bit contradictory.

    I don’t think I worded that very well. Actually, it seems more like she is pretending to be run out of the club. She’s still a Christian. She’s still part of the club, but she’s pretending that she isn’t because she doesn’t like the way her fellow believers act. However, she hasn’t denounced Christianity, merely certain political positions held by Christians.

    And faith can be personal, I don’t think she needs to be part of any “club”. Take politics. I can agree with some republican things and still be democrat. I can be an independent and consistently vote democrat. What you believe does not always dictate what organizations you belong to.

    Except that she’s not claiming to be leaving an organization. Nowhere on her Facebook did I see reference to the Catholic church. Isn’t that her church? I think it would make a stronger statement if she were to denounce the Catholic church because she disagrees with what it teaches and what it has done. She could say that she’s still a Christian but she can’t support that particular church. Instead, she takes a broad swipe at the Christian category, while still holding beliefs that qualify her for membership in the category.

  • p.s.

    Except that she’s not claiming to be leaving an organization. Nowhere on her Facebook did I see reference to the Catholic church. Isn’t that her church? I think it would make a stronger statement if she were to denounce the Catholic church because she disagrees with what it teaches and what it has done. She could say that she’s still a Christian but she can’t support that particular church. Instead, she takes a broad swipe at the Christian category, while still holding beliefs that qualify her for membership in the category.

    I am not sure why she referenced christianity as a whole and not just the catholic church. Hard to deduce much from a couple of facebook blurbs. However, I think the important bit is that she is disassociating from bad behavior while still holding on to her faith. Perhaps she feels that calling herself a follower of christ rather than a christian is more comprehensive and describes her beliefs better. I think alot of people are nitpicking her terminology and overlooking the fact that she did the right thing by choosing not to support a moral stance she doesn’t believe in. I think it’s hypocritical when most atheists are fine with calling themselves whatever they want- strong, weak, agnostic, secular humanist, bright, etc.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com LUZ

    Pick and choose. Ann and others like her pick the parts of the bible they like and reject those that they dont.I was not aware the bible was similar to a take out menu.
    I find that dishonest.

  • p.s.

    forgot to add this bit:

    She doesn’t get to stand up as an example of a tolerant, progressive Christian because she herself is saying she isn’t one. She has the same beliefs, but she’s playing around with semantics. She doesn’t like the way her fellow Christians act, so she’s decided to call herself something different. It doesn’t change the fact that she still believes Jesus is a deity.

    fine, she’s not a christian. But she is a person of faith, and can stand up as an example to other people of faith. If she wants to believe in jesus thats fine. You can be a moral person with or without him. As I said in my last post, we shouldn’t be nitpicking semantics (from a facebook quote!!) when she did something good and noteworthy.

  • p.s.

    luz:

    Pick and choose. Ann and others like her pick the parts of the bible they like and reject those that they dont.I was not aware the bible was similar to a take out menu.
    I find that dishonest.

    so you are saying that all christians need to be fundamentalists? That’s what it sounds like. Many people take the bible as stories that may or may not apply in the present.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com LUZ

    Ann Rice still a follower of Christ and of the Bible. She made that clear.I dont think all Christians need to be fundies,but lets not pretend the bible is not anti-gay and misogynist just because they dont like those parts.Christians claim the bible is the word of God,but yet they dont like everything he has to say! It is dishonest.

  • Jesse

    Sorry you feel that way, but I don’t think you really understand what she is trying to say. Christ is an ideal, following that ideal is difficult but more in touch with how humans “should” strive to be. It actually means that all humans should accept each other as they are because we are all brothers and sisters. Modern day “Christianity” is the McDonalds of spirituality. It has deviated so much from the true discipline, and instead of doing good it actually pulls people away from the “true way”.

    I’m not advocating anyone to believe me, mainly because I believe that no one knows the truth and therefore no one can tell you the truth. This is what Anne is trying to say, anyone who wears the Authority hat and toots about telling the truth is BSing. Whether it’s the Government, Scientist, the Church, Richard Dawkins, and even Mom and Dad, you can’t rely on them to get the truth. Make your own damn research, figure it out on your own, it’s your life mission (I suppose), and don’t believe just because someone said it. Seek the truth, and the truth will set you free.

  • Mriana

    Well, she may still be a Xian, but I think the step and announcement she made isn’t all bad. I think more Xians should do such a thing. It might have some sort of influence on the Religious Reich. Not sure what sort of influence, but it is possible.

  • potatopeeler

    Hemant, I’m very disappointed in the way you seem to be going lately. You’re very hypocritical in what you want from religious people. You say you want them to do certain things, then attack them for it when they do (example: you’re always saying how Christians should speak up about how the church treats gays. When they do, you attack them for not doing more.). You’ve been saying for a while that you wished Christians would denounce the church for what it’s doing to people and you don’t understand how anyone could be part of such an institution. Anne Rice does exactly what you want, so you…attack her? Are you kidding me? I’m a big fan, but you’re not a very friendly atheist anymore. I hope you can see your hypocrisy here. The problems with this post isn’t that you went overboard with criticizing her, it’s that you criticized her in the first place. Make up your mind.

  • Francesco

    Ms Rice says she is not a true scotsman, why not take her word for it? Religion cannot have rational membership criteria as it does not have a rational foundation. It appears to me that membership of the religion is whoever thinks they are in that religion. Ms Rice if she still believes in the resurrection & such has just invented for herself a new religion with one member (possibly called Not-Cristianity) .

  • http://twitter.com/alexandra_opny Lexy

    I second @potatopeeler. I think as atheists, we need to be less opposed to theism per se, and more opposed to the nasty side effects of theism: homophobia, sexism, antiscience etc. By hating theism for theism’s sake it makes you look less like a friendly atheist and more like a bigot. Just think, surely you know some atheists that believe in some crazy, unproven BS, 9/11 conspiracy theories, the iluminati, alien abductions and so on. This doesn’t make them bad people or hypocrites, it just makes them delusional. So long as someone isn’t going to infringe on my rights or the rights of others, I think they’re allowed to believe in whatever delusional crap they want. Good for Anne Rice! This is a victory for the good guys!

  • 3D

    Seeker Says:

    You are a teacher. You should know that repetition is the mother of all knowledge. Also that what she did will cost her dearly in her social, emotional and possibly fiscal condition.

    Who cares? What she is saying makes no sense. “I believe in one part of the Bible where Jesus says some nice stuff, but not the other 90% of it full of slaughter and hate and misogyny.”

    Why? Based on what? What logic leads her to untie the few scraps of good things in the Bible from all the mayhem and murder that provides the blueprints for all these psychopaths to act the way they do? Why should a ridiculous statement like Anne Rice’s statement be met with condescending politeness?

    She is giving away a lot by doing this so publicly, enough I guess to not give a damn if she impressed some atheist blogger or not.

    She would be giving away a lot if she shaved her head and proclaimed herself a Nazi skinhead, too. Would we be patting her on the back for that?

    Whatever happened to weighing the actual claims a person makes on their own merits? That’s what “some atheist blogger” did and he is right.

  • p.s.

    Why? Based on what? What logic leads her to untie the few scraps of good things in the Bible from all the mayhem and murder that provides the blueprints for all these psychopaths to act the way they do? Why should a ridiculous statement like Anne Rice’s statement be met with condescending politeness?

    From her facebook page it doesn’t seem like she takes much of the bible on faith. Like I said before, asking christians to all take the bible literally is asking all christians to be fundamentalists.

    She would be giving away a lot if she shaved her head and proclaimed herself a Nazi skinhead, too. Would we be patting her on the back for that?

    ahh the nazi’s. Because their actions are totally equatable to standing up for women, gays, and science. Oh wait….

    Whatever happened to weighing the actual claims a person makes on their own merits? That’s what “some atheist blogger” did and he is right.

    Whatever happened to judging people by their actions? Who cares what she wants to call herself? I really don’t think you have any right to tell her that she is a christian. Now if she was claiming to not be a theist, I would take issue with that. But I don’t think believing in some higher power and thinking christ was a pretty ok guy necessarily makes you a christian.

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  • AnonyMouse

    I have a tiny, barely-related quibble:

    She’s not a “follower of Christ” – at least, not in any way that requires quotes. Followers of Christ are Christian fundamentalists living in various rural states in the US. They are essentially the opposite of everything Rice says she stands for.

    She can call herself not a Christian, an unChristian, or whatever she likes. It may be silly, but I don’t really care. I don’t blame her at all for wanting to disclaim a label that has been historically associated with hatred, ignorance, abuse, and bigotry – even if, technically speaking, that’s what she is.

    However, an apology for supporting the Catholic Church for as long as she did may be in order.

  • Anna

    I haven’t bothered with reading through the previous comments as it is ridiculously late/early where I am just now. I would simply like to say that I am “not a Christian” in way similar to Ms. Rice. I think it is at least mildly unfair to imply that retaining a faith while leaving a religion is irrelevant. I am not a Christian because while I can be a “different” (read: rational and opposed to hatred) Christian, I would still be forced to operate within a harmful societal construct. That wasn’t healthy for me on any level, so I abandoned the religion. Labels are always optional. Society would label me as being so many things: Christ-follower, bisexual, liberal, vegetarian, academic, female, and so on. However, none of those things really matter until you get to know someone. So I think people like Ms. Rice and myself deserve (in some small way) the benefit of the doubt.

    • GamerDarling

      Out of curiosity Anna, How are you reconciling the Christian story of Creation with Evolution? I haven’t heard the perspective from a large number of people who believe in Christ and consider their beliefs to be rationality based(as opposed to faith based).

  • GamerDarling

    To those that are claiming “you can’t tell someone their Christian/shouldn’t make fun of them for deciding they aren’t” When an author deliberately abuses the meaning of a word to make a point and it flops you absolutely can(and should) make fun of them. The definition of Christian is “A person who is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.”

    Insert that into her statements in place of the word christian and they become nonsenical. Being an author on her level I presume, but do not believe it to be presumptuous, that she did this intentionally to make a point. The problem is that she is, literally, a Christian.

    She is not a fundamentalist christian. She is not a literalist christian. But if she still believes in Christ she does in fact retain the title “Christian” Whether she likes the connotations of that or not.


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