Anne Rice has left Christianity.
Weird that I, an ordained minister and pastor would say such a thing, but unfortunately, I understand. Christianity and in fact, organized religion in general, distresses me.
I, like Rice, love Jesus the Christ. I believe in what he taught. There is power in love and forgiveness and in serving people.
But we, the religious, make a mockery of God, of Jesus, and of the tenets of God taught through Jesus. We twist and maniupulate scripture for our own purposes, to fit our ideology. The late Sen. Robert Byrd once said, in his days as a segregationist, that, sure, the scriptures say to love our neighbor, but “we can choose our neighbor.” He was using the Bible to justify segregation and racial hatred.
Breaking my heart is the Christian preacher who has decided to burn Holy Korans. Then there is the Christian preacher whose church torments the parents of gay children who have gone to war, fought, and died. They do it in the name of Jesus.
Whose Jesus? What Jesus is that?
Rice says she will not be anti-Gay, anti-Democrat, anti …and she lists a few. The God of love, surely could not endorse the kind of hatred that too many Christians practice, not the God my mother taught me about.
The God of my mother was the God who created us all and who therefore loved us all. Even as I struggled with seeing white people attack innocent black people who were trying to gain civil rights in this country, and with seeing white mothers yell the “n” word at little black children, my mother said that this God loved us all, even these hate-filled whites, and that because God loved them, we must, too.
But my mother was adamant. The world of God was about love and forgiveness. God loved and forgave us, so we must do the same. The Bible said it.
It was hard to reconcile what my mother said with what I saw in the world. Not only did different races of people hate each other in the name of Jesus, but so did members of the same family. Parents stopped talking to children because they were gay; light skinned African American parents ostracized children who were too dark; mothers shunned daughters because they were too heavy.
Apparently this God of love was not going over well.
God could have staved off all this inconsistency by making everyone male, white, and straight. No women. No different nationalities. No Jewish people, no Muslims, no Buddhists or any other religion. Nothing different. Then it would be easy to love, right? Oh, I forgot…nobody with any disabilities or anything that made them less than “the norm” could exist either. A perfect, womanless, Anglo, straight society is what would make things all right, all good?
Isn’t that what Hitler thought? Didn’t he think that there were too many misfits in the world, and don’t we religious, Christian types think that if there were a few less “different” people that the world would be as God intended?
I think that’s what many of us think, but I would bet that even if this was a boring, “same” world, things would not be better. I would bet that even then, in the name of Jesus, the straight white Protestant men would find ways to hate other straight white men.
Did God, then, make a mistake in creating so much diversity in the world? Or did God do it on purpose to highlight the fact that Jesus said that not everyone that says, “Lord, Lord!” will enter the kingdom of heaven?
I don’t know. I do know this: I understand why Anne Rice has left Christianity.
That is a painful and candid observation.