Saturday, August 21, 2010

Anne Rice is right about some ‘Christians,’ but wrong about the faith

Best-selling author Anne Rice recently declared last month on her Facebook fan page that she “quit Christianity and being a Christian.”

The Interview With the Vampire author said she found it “simply impossible … to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious and deservedly infamous group.”

According to the Christian Post, Rice, born and reared a Roman Catholic, explained that she does not fit into organized Christianity because she is not anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-artificial birth control, anti-Democrat nor anti-science.

The Bible sometimes takes unpopular stances on controversial societal issues. Furthermore, the Scriptures teach that those who profess to be Christians should align themselves with biblical beliefs.

But God did not intend for the Scriptures to be used as a tool to condemn and judge others — a fact that seems to have been missed by many in the faith. Jesus often called the religious leaders of his time hypocrites because they were quick to point out others’ flaws while neglecting their own.

While Christians cannot ignore portions of the Bible that do not mesh with society, they must remember the gospel message is rooted in love. Even when a stand is taken, it should reflect the characteristics on which the faith is built — love, humility and the like.

Gandhi often is quoted as saying “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” This appears to be the fundamental problem Rice and many others have with Christianity: They have come into contact with self-professed Christians who, sadly, are nothing like Christ. Also, the media’s portrayal of Christians emphasizes fringe groups who have become self-proclaimed representatives of the faith.

But Rice’s characterization is stereotypical and grossly exaggerated. The “quarrelsome, hostile” religion she describes is limited to a few; no movement is devoid of extremists. Most Christians are just as disturbed as Rice by the gay-bashing, anti-feminist types who ascribe to Christianity.

Abandoning the faith is not the solution. Christians who oppose extremists must debunk misconceptions by speaking out. This will dilute the hostile and hateful factions.

Rice’s decision is unfortunate. She states that while she no longer is a Christian, she remains a follower of Christ. She reads the Bible and prays every day, by herself. Going to church does not make one a Christian, but Hebrews admonishes Christians not to “give up meeting together.”

Undoubtedly Christianity has its problems. The Bible teaches that Christians are meant to exemplify Christ, but no one is perfect. Anyone who abandons the faith because of the imperfection of its people misses the point: A Christian should follow Christ and look to him, not other Christians, for an example.