Anne Hathaway Explains Why She Left the Catholic Church

Actress Anne Hathaway was recently on NPR’s Fresh Air to discuss her movie “Love and Other Drugs.”

At one point, host Terry Gross brought up the topic of homosexuality and the Catholic Church:

GROSS: I should mention, this is maybe a good place to talk about it, that your brother is gay, and he got married in Canada. And I read that your family left the Catholic Church when your brother came out because the Catholic Church is so, like, anti-homosexual.

So was it a hard decision or just like a no-brainer to leave the church when your brother came out?

HATHAWAY: Well, it wasn’t really like we had a family discussion about it. We didn’t sit around the dinner table and say, okay, this is the decisive action we’re going to take now. It was more something we realized we’d all done as individuals, and then it became something that we’d done as a family.

And gosh, was it difficult? You know, when it’s family and someone is excluding your family, and someone is not accepting of your family, it does become a bit of a no-brainer, doesn’t it?

GROSS: So was it hard for you to leave the church? Was the church important to you before?

HATHAWAY: Faith is important to me. You know, being raised with one faith and having to go out into the unknown and try to cobble together another, that was hard. But I wasn’t really leaving something because I realized I couldn’t have faith in this religion that would exclude anyone, particularly my brother, for the way he’s born and for loving someone. I mean, how do you exclude someone for love? That seems to be the antithesis of what religion’s about.

And by the way, you know, I [don't] mean to Catholic Church-bash. I do understand that, for a lot of people, the religion provides a lot of peace and direction. But I don’t know… if they could be accepting of women and of gays… I think that the religion gets a lot of things right.

But for me, I couldn’t lose myself in it. I couldn’t look to it for guidance because it’s like I said, I don’t believe in this aspect.

Yeah, I know. Of the many things religion represents, love isn’t at the top of the list. But I’ll let that one go.

It’s always nice to hear a celebrity — especially one who’s not an atheist — talk about why she left her church and the harm it did to her family. Hathaway is right: leaving your faith is a no-brainer. It’s even easier to do it when so many churches and church leaders espouse bigotry against gay people.

(Side note: the transcript on NPR’s site currently quotes Hathaway as saying, “I mean to Catholic Church-bash.” A mistake, no doubt, but I’m amused.)

  • Claudia

    It doesn’t sound like she’s left her faith as much as her church. Mind you, I think this is good news anyway. Liberal church is better than conservative church, and no church better than both.

    I guess having high profile people leave their church is still a good thing for us. The more people leave places which constantly reinforce that it’s wrong to doubt and question, the more our ranks will grow.

  • Nordog

    You’re right, it’s a no-brainer.

  • Richard P.

    Yeah it’s always fun to ride the bus of bigotry until the bus is running over you.
    I guess this is the benefit of speaking out for who we are. As more gay and skeptics come out of the closet, the more personal will become effects of bigotry and people will see it for what it is.

  • http://www.bluefrogdesignstudios.com/thebluefrogsays/ The Big Blue Frog

    Anne Hathaway is hot. The fact that she’s dumped the Catholic Church for moral reasons makes her even hotter.

  • Revyloution

    She’d better not keep thinking along those lines, or she will become another Audry Hepburn.

  • Jeff

    It’s always commendable when someone places family (and friends and everyone else, for that matter) before religion. The evangelical world is full of people who lack the courage and compassion to do that. They’d rather see their own children in hell than give up the security blanket.

  • Camus Dude

    I’ve said before, if someone isn’t politically motivated by their faith, I really don’t care what dogmas they believe. It seems that even if Anne believes some irrational things, she’s still someone to be applauded. I would be happy if all religious believers left organized groups and just worshiped the deity they believe in, in their own way.

  • Heidi

    Sooner or later, the Catholic church is going to have to change everything they stand for if they want to keep the myth alive.

    • Ppizzaface

      Sooner or later? Like when? Another 2000 years?  The Catholic church is the world’s oldest institution. It’s still around for a reason. Jesus promised it would be and  it’s teachings are based on  truth…and by the way, the church lovingly accepts all people, including homosexuals.  The churches teachings are against homosexual acts not homosexual people. The church teaches that homosexuals are called to a life of purity and asks that they not act on their desires. It’s a tall order and most are not willing to make that sacrifice. The Catholic church also offers support and fellowship for gays – and no, it does not try to “pray the gay away”. 

  • Thegoodman

    Did she explain which church she now attends? Which one selectively ignores Leviticus?

    Some churches are “accepting” of gays…they just secretly know they are going to hell, and hope they un-gay themselves before they die.

    If someone only thinks that black people are inferior but openly says they are equal, is that person a racist? Of course they are.

    The same is true for any christian, they are all discriminatory of gays if they believe the bible is the word of god. So any Christian who is not discriminatory toward gays is either in denial about their homophobia or in denial about their faith, neither is a healthy situation.

    • Frank

      All churches ignore Leviticus. It’s called the doctrine of Supersessionalism, and it says that the new covenant supersedes the old covenant because Jesus fulfilled the law. You should try learning something about Christian theology prior to decrying a religion you haven’t the slightest iota of understanding.

  • http://modernreject.com Modern Reject

    She didn’t just leave her religion because it was a “no brainer.” She left because they excluded her brother. Big difference.

    She also said in this interview, which you did not bold: “Faith is important to me,” and “I do understand that, for a lot of people, the religion provides a lot of peace and direction. But I don’t know… if they could be accepting of women and of gays… I think that the religion gets a lot of things right.”

    Despite her personal feelings about the Catholic Church’s treatment (and religion in general it seems) of women and homosexuals, she still sees purpose in religion.

    Be careful not to put words into someone’s mouth and always be sure to read between the lines…

  • jose

    As always, well-to-do religious people acommodate their values with the society they like to live in, and then claim that those values come from their religion. This one is a blatant example, but there are plenty of subtler cases.

  • Ben

    The Catholic church IS all about love. Ask any alter boy. The priests are ALWAYS trying to “love” them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 muggle

    Meh, it’s a first step in the right direction and took some courage. It took me 10 years to break away in total. But even if she never loses faith altogether, I’ll agree with those that it’s rather commendable that she and their family chose her brother over the Church. Now that’s family values! Yay, them!

  • Pope Ratzi

    DIE, HERETIC!

  • Nick Andrew

    I just wonder why she bothered to “try to cobble together another” faith. She’s looking for a group whose dogma agrees with things she already believes.

  • Naomi

    I commend her integrity here; most Catholics disagree with many aspects of the church’s dogma, but never leave as it never really affects them personally.

  • Guest

    All churches ignore Leviticus. It’s called the doctrine of Supersessionalism and it says that the new covenant supersedes the old covenant because Jesus fulfilled the law. You should try learning some Christian theology before attacking a religion you haven’t the slightest iota of understanding.

    • Artor

      All churches ignore the parts of Leviticus they don’t like, like the prohibitions against shellfish of mixed fibers or tattoos. But most of them seem to LOVE the lines about gays being an abomination. I’m willing to bet most of the readers on this site know Xian theology better than you do. Like Matt 5:18, where Jesus explicitly says, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
      Sorry, you fail.