Dear Anne Rice,
When I heard you started following Jesus a few years ago I was excited for you. In my own spiritual journey, connecting personally to God through Jesus truly changed everything for me.
In reading a story about your Facebook comments and your desire “to quit being a Christian,” I was saddened. Intuitively I knew that you must have encountered people who follow Jesus who probably began attempts to conform every part of who you are to become more like them rather than to help you become more like the person God created you to be and to become more like Jesus.
After reading your comments, I realized my fears were right. You have become the victim of potentially well-meaning people who think that everyone who follows Jesus needs to look, act, and make choices just like them. Way too often, as people of faith, we have added to what we think is essential.
I just wanted to let you know that there are more of us out here than you may realize.
There are many, many people who have chosen to follow Jesus without getting caught up in the religion which has done so much damage in His name. There is a group of insurrectionists who seek to love, serve, and influence people no matter how these people in their life choose to live, what they choose to believe, or how they choose to vote.
I am a part of a movement of people who follow Jesus. We gather together in service projects, in homes to study the Scriptures, and in larger gatherings on weekends. We allow people to belong before they believe (whether or not they ever believe).
To hear that your faith has moved you from pessimism to optimism really encourages me. Keep pursuing Jesus, and you will find there are a lot more people out there who are with you.
A Fellow Follower of Jesus,
Excerpts from Anne Rice’s Facebook page:
Anne Rice My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.
Anne Rice As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I’m out. 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. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
Anne Rice For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten …years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.
For more on the idea of following Jesus rather than religion: check out The Barbarian Way or Not Like Me (especially chapter 10).
For more on getting away from the non-essentials, check out “People for the Ethical Treatment of People” and “Advocating for the Rights of Those Who Don’t Believe.”
For more on belonging before believing: check out this interview on the topic, this post on “Belonging Before Believing in the Scriptures” or this post on “Catalyzing Community.”
For more on our community go to www.mosaic.org, on our network go to www.MosaicAlliance.com, and on our tribe go to www.OriginsProject.org. There are more and more communities, churches, and networks leaving what has been called Christianity in order to truly follow Jesus….
Great response Eric. I am so moved by Anne Rice’s openness and candor. I know many people remain silent and never speak out against the contradiction of Christ and Church we see so often.
Thanks for your letter, although addressed to Anne Rice, it is a message the world needs to hear. We are on a journey to seek God and truth and nothing will stop us.
Christianity has many faces. Years ago I had to lean I belonged to Him first and my denomination was secondard.
As long as I kept my eyes on Him, I was alright.
It is important to be pro-Jesus and skip the party line. He knows how to sort it all out. We are told to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
Someone once said to me, “Which church do you want to be a part of; they all have their problems. It depends, which set of problems you want to work with.”I
I do find I need my brothers and sisters no matter how flawed they are and how flawed I am..