Anne Rice, the bestselling novelist most popularly known for "Interview with the Vampire" and her other creepy vampire novels as well as her novels on the life of Christ, announced on Wednesday via Facebook that she has officially renounced Christianity.
Here were her Facebook comments:
Anne Rice says that she refuses to be anti-gay, among other things, noting that her son, novelist Christopher Rice, is openly gay, closing with the notion that she will continue to be “an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God.”
Anne seems willing to still embrace Jesus, while jettisoning all the baggage of being associated with organized church and faith. Anne's decision is more than a personal declaration, rather it is a sign of the times as a quickly growing number of people also wish to leave their organized religion behind them as well. According to the latest American Religious Identification Survey - 34 million Americans have left their organized religion in recent years.
Organized religion has been perceived by some people of faith (as well as those outside the church) as focusing on the wrong priorities and the emphasizing the wrong messages.
Author and once minister, Steve McSwain said in a recent article that he left the church when he realized that “the church was more lost than the world it was trying to save” and that the church is “an institution vastly more interested in saving itself,”. Moreover, McSwain points out that, “While 40 million people died of starvation in the last decade, churches spent $10 billion on campuses,” that is, building megachurches and beautifying the grounds they are on.
Certainly the church can learn and benefit from the concerns and critiques of Rice, McSwain and the the 34 million others who have experienced feeling disenfranchised and disappointed with the church. But I believe that those concerns and critiques, must not be allowed to cement into cynicism toward the church. The church is not man's institution, rather it is Christ's body, Christ being the head. We can't say we love Christ, but hate His bride, the church - they are inseparable. But unlike Christ, too often the church and the people of God act imperfectly, sanctified sinners who don't always reflect God's glory.
To that point, I appreciate Chad Nuss' admonition to persevere with and within the community of faith even in it's imperfect state:
Church community consists of people that are very different, who sin against each other, who don’t like each other from time to time, who do all kinds of bad, hypocritical things–yet they stick together because the call to Christian community is to learn how to die to ourselves for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of the church, for the sake of community, and for the sake of the glory of God. (read the whole quote HERE)Being a part of the church is not being a part of a perfect institution, rather it is a call to die to ourselves and to live in light of the Gospel everyday.