ANNE Rice, the author best known for her vampire novels, created a sensation last week when she declared on her Facebook page that she had “quit being a Christian“.
Twelve years after her return to Catholicism, Rice said she still believed in God, but that:
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.
Asked in this interview about her decision, Rice said:
I’ve come to the conclusion from my experience with organized religion that I have to leave, that I have to, in the name of Christ, step away from this. It’s a matter of rejecting what I’ve discovered about the persecution of gays, the persecution and oppression of women and the actions of the churches on many different levels. I’ve also found that I can’t find a basis in Scripture for a lot of the positions that churches and denominations take today, and I can’t find any basis at all for an anointed, hierarchical priesthood. So all of this finally created a pressure in me, a kind of confusion, a toxic anger at times, and I felt I had to step aside. And that’s what I’ve done…
Commenting on Rice’s defection, William Lobdell, a former Los Angeles Times staff writer and author of Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America â€” and Found Unexpected Peace, said:
Rice is merely one of millions of Americans who have opted out of organized religion in recent years, making the unaffiliated category of faith the fastest-growing ‘religion’ in America, according to a 2008 study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
The Pew report found that 1 in 6 American adults were not affiliated with any particular faith. That number jumped to 25% for people ages 18 to 29. Moreover, most mainline Protestant denominations have for years experienced a net loss in members, and about 25% of cradle Catholics have left their childhood faith, the study showed â€¦
American Christianity is not well, and there’s evidence to indicate that its condition is more critical than most realize â€” or at least want to admit.
Pollsters â€” most notably evangelical George Barna â€” have reported repeatedly that they can find little measurable difference between the moral behavior of churchgoers and the rest of American society. Barna has found that born-again Christians are more likely to divorce (an act strongly condemned by Jesus) than atheists and agnostics, and are more likely to be racist than other Americans.
And while evangelical adolescents overwhelmingly say they believe in abstaining from premarital sex, they are more likely to be sexually active â€” and at an earlier age â€” than peers who are mainline Protestants, Mormons or Jews, according to University of Texas researcher Mark Regnerusn â€¦
Culturally, America is still a Christian nation. The majority of us still attend church at least occasionally, celebrate Christmas and Easter, and pepper our conversations with “God bless you” and “I’ll be praying for you.”
But judging by the behavior of most Christians, they’ve become secularists. And the sea of hypocrisy between Christian beliefs and actions is driving Americans away from the institutional church in record numbers.