UCC is going after Anne Rice

I guess this is an admission that liberal churches have quit being Christian too:

The United Church of Christ is trying to get Anne Rice to join its flock after the Interview with the Vampire author announced her highly-publicized decision to “quit being Christian” this past week.

Just days after Rice’s announcement, the 1.1-million member UCC launched the”You’d Like the UCC, Anne Rice” campaign on Facebook to offer support for the acclaimed author and to introduce her and others to the historically liberal church body.

“Many of us who are Christian share Anne Rice’s values of inclusion and reason,” remarked UCC’s communications director, the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, who initiated the Facebook campaign. “It’s important that she and others know that a church like the UCC exists.”

via UCC Makes Pitch to Ex-’Christian’ Author Anne Rice | Christianpost.com.

I think it highly unlikely that Anne Rice will join a liberal Protestant church.  Even in her disillusionment, a version of the church that seems to agree with her will hold little appeal.  Hunter Baker makes this point:

What fascinates me about the way she has done this is how Catholic she is in her rejection of the Catholic Church.

If Anne Rice were a Protestant of almost any kind, she would surely flee to a denominational group or congregation which embraces Jesus while more closely approximating her values.  There is no doubt it would be possible to do so.  There are liberal Baptists, liberal Lutherans, liberal Methodists, etc.

But Rice doesn’t avail herself of that opportunity.  And I think I know why.  Anne Rice movingly wrote of her Catholic childhood and of her dramatic return to the church.  At no point did she apparently consider returning to faith as a Protestant.  She clearly believes that the Catholic church is the only true manifestation of the Christian church.  And thus, when she rejects it, there is no other church for her to join.  She is affirming the church at the same time she loudly and publicly is slamming the door and running away.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Amy

    I didn’t get the sense that she ever thought Christianity was necessarily wrong, it was just a group that she no longer wanted to associate with. So it makes sense that she would affirm the Catholic church as the true Christian church — she does believe that it’s right, but she can’t get past societal pressure to accept certain things (gay marriage, abortion, etc.) as normal and good. So she has to cut herself off. I think she sees the Church as something separate from society at large, and so while she still loves Jesus, he’s not as “cool” as her other friends, so she has to leave.

  • Amy

    I didn’t get the sense that she ever thought Christianity was necessarily wrong, it was just a group that she no longer wanted to associate with. So it makes sense that she would affirm the Catholic church as the true Christian church — she does believe that it’s right, but she can’t get past societal pressure to accept certain things (gay marriage, abortion, etc.) as normal and good. So she has to cut herself off. I think she sees the Church as something separate from society at large, and so while she still loves Jesus, he’s not as “cool” as her other friends, so she has to leave.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    My thought; the UCC will get what it deserves by courting someone who publicly shames her faith community. Don’t the Catholics teach Matthew 18 and its process for confrontation and reconciliation?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    My thought; the UCC will get what it deserves by courting someone who publicly shames her faith community. Don’t the Catholics teach Matthew 18 and its process for confrontation and reconciliation?

  • http://jdueck.net Joel

    I think it’s silly for any church to be “pitching” itself to any individual in this extremely public way, as though they were a service firm going after a high-profile corporate account. Who on earth would respond favourably to that?? I can only think it’s a publicity stunt to get everyone else’s attention. They may even kid themselves that they care about Ms Rice, but they sure aren’t treating her with basic thoughtfulness or respect.

  • http://jdueck.net Joel

    I think it’s silly for any church to be “pitching” itself to any individual in this extremely public way, as though they were a service firm going after a high-profile corporate account. Who on earth would respond favourably to that?? I can only think it’s a publicity stunt to get everyone else’s attention. They may even kid themselves that they care about Ms Rice, but they sure aren’t treating her with basic thoughtfulness or respect.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    This may be a “publicity stunt” as far as the UCC is concerned, but I think it comes across a heck of a lot better than the response some commenters here gave her.

    Which would you rather hear: “Hey, we think we’re a church that would fit you well” or “So you’re no longer a Christian? Meh, I bet you never really believed in the first place.” Or perhaps something along the lines of, “Oh, so you have issues with Christianity because of some particular issues? Well forget you! … Liberal.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    This may be a “publicity stunt” as far as the UCC is concerned, but I think it comes across a heck of a lot better than the response some commenters here gave her.

    Which would you rather hear: “Hey, we think we’re a church that would fit you well” or “So you’re no longer a Christian? Meh, I bet you never really believed in the first place.” Or perhaps something along the lines of, “Oh, so you have issues with Christianity because of some particular issues? Well forget you! … Liberal.”

  • Joanne

    1. I cataloged a history of 2 German congregations in New Orleans. Their progression was something like German Evangelical to Evangelical and Reformed to UCC (I simplify). Noted how pastors still came from German state universities even in mid-20th century.
    2 I cataloged a history of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Orleans. Not originally Lutheran. Not originally LC-MS. Actually, the 3rd LC-MS congregation in the city, although the oldest of the 3 congregations. Interesting progresssion from Texas Synod to LC-MS.
    3. I read on the Internet about the ELCA and UCC altar and pulpit union, and about practical stress this was causing in local implementations in the crowded east (PA). (ELCA is trying to steal our (UCC) small country parishes.)
    4. Vacation to Allentown/Bethlehem, PA, Fall, 2009. UCC churches galore. Friend asks me all about them. We visit a few as we travel around, but not for services. Looks like low Methodists in PA.
    5. Ann Rice? 1.1 million member UCC, patchwork of united, generic, small “p” protestant churches. Leading with flashy liberal reputation in prospectus to Ms. Rice.
    6. Prospect: Not likely unless her son joins the UCC first.

  • Joanne

    1. I cataloged a history of 2 German congregations in New Orleans. Their progression was something like German Evangelical to Evangelical and Reformed to UCC (I simplify). Noted how pastors still came from German state universities even in mid-20th century.
    2 I cataloged a history of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Orleans. Not originally Lutheran. Not originally LC-MS. Actually, the 3rd LC-MS congregation in the city, although the oldest of the 3 congregations. Interesting progresssion from Texas Synod to LC-MS.
    3. I read on the Internet about the ELCA and UCC altar and pulpit union, and about practical stress this was causing in local implementations in the crowded east (PA). (ELCA is trying to steal our (UCC) small country parishes.)
    4. Vacation to Allentown/Bethlehem, PA, Fall, 2009. UCC churches galore. Friend asks me all about them. We visit a few as we travel around, but not for services. Looks like low Methodists in PA.
    5. Ann Rice? 1.1 million member UCC, patchwork of united, generic, small “p” protestant churches. Leading with flashy liberal reputation in prospectus to Ms. Rice.
    6. Prospect: Not likely unless her son joins the UCC first.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD, given that a hallmark (1 John 2:19, Hebrews 10:24-5, etc..) of the true believer is participation in the fellowship of the church, I don’t think it’s at all inappropriate to ask the question of whether a person is saved when they choose to publicly shame the fellowship of believers without going through the process of Matthew 18. It may not make good press, but it is a Biblically tenable response.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD, given that a hallmark (1 John 2:19, Hebrews 10:24-5, etc..) of the true believer is participation in the fellowship of the church, I don’t think it’s at all inappropriate to ask the question of whether a person is saved when they choose to publicly shame the fellowship of believers without going through the process of Matthew 18. It may not make good press, but it is a Biblically tenable response.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So Bubba (@6), how many Sundays does a member of your church have to miss before the other congregants start gossiping behind his back that he probably wasn’t a real Christian anyhow?

    In my church, we try to contact people we haven’t seen in a while, calling them, visiting them, mailing them, whatever we can do to encourage them to come back. Sort of like a shepherd seeking after a lost sheep.

    But I could see how questioning someone’s faith behind their backs would also work well. I mean, as long as it’s done in love.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So Bubba (@6), how many Sundays does a member of your church have to miss before the other congregants start gossiping behind his back that he probably wasn’t a real Christian anyhow?

    In my church, we try to contact people we haven’t seen in a while, calling them, visiting them, mailing them, whatever we can do to encourage them to come back. Sort of like a shepherd seeking after a lost sheep.

    But I could see how questioning someone’s faith behind their backs would also work well. I mean, as long as it’s done in love.

  • Sarah

    You might be interested in this interview with Christianity Today:
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/augustweb-only/43-21.0.html

  • Sarah

    You might be interested in this interview with Christianity Today:
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/augustweb-only/43-21.0.html

  • bunnycatch3r

    So Bubba (@6), how many Sundays does a member of your church have to miss before the other congregants start gossiping behind his back that he probably wasn’t a real Christian anyhow?

  • bunnycatch3r

    So Bubba (@6), how many Sundays does a member of your church have to miss before the other congregants start gossiping behind his back that he probably wasn’t a real Christian anyhow?

  • bunnycatch3r

    So Bubba (@6), how many Sundays does a member of your church have to miss before the other congregants start gossiping behind his back that he probably wasn’t a real Christian anyhow?

  • bunnycatch3r

    So Bubba (@6), how many Sundays does a member of your church have to miss before the other congregants start gossiping behind his back that he probably wasn’t a real Christian anyhow?

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