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WRITER ANNE RICE: 'TODAY I QUIT BEING A CHRISTIAN'
NPR All Things Considered
August 2, 2010
[Visit the link above the listen to the full interview. - DS]
On July 28, bestselling author Anne Rice officially left the Roman Catholic
The writer has had a fairly tumultuous religious history. Although she was
raised Catholic, Rice rejected the church for the first time when she was
But in 1998, Rice -- who's famous mostly for writing steamy, gothic,
decidedly un-Christian novels such as Interview with the Vampire -- had a
religious awakening. She converted to Catholicism and began to write
exclusively Christian-themed novels, like Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.
In July, Rice decided she had had enough. She announced her decision on her
"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."
But, the decision wasn't an easy one.
"It was very painful," Rice tells NPR's Michele Norris. "But I've always
been public about my beliefs, and I've always been public about wanting to
make a difference."
"And frankly," she continues, "after doing it, I felt sane for the first
time in a very long while."
The Last Straw
Rice says although there were "last straws," there was no one event that
caused her to reject organized religion.
"This is something that had been going on really almost from the beginning
of my conversion in 1998," she says. "From the beginning, there were signs
that the public face of Catholicism and the public face of Christianity were
things that I found very, very difficult to accept."
Still, Rice says she tried her best to ignore the facets of Christianity she
didn't support and concentrate on the ones she did. As time wore on, though
-- and as Rice continued to live and study as a Christian -- "more and more
social issues began to impinge on me," she says.
Rice says the final straw was when she realized the lengths that the church
would go to prevent same-sex marriage.
"I didn't anticipate at the beginning that the U.S. bishops were going to
come out against same-sex marriage," she says. "That they were actually
going to donate money to defeat the civil rights of homosexuals in the
"... When that broke in the news, I felt an intense pressure. And I am a
person who grew up with the saying that all that is needed for evil to
prevail is for good people to do nothing, and I believe that statement."
Though the author's son Christopher is a gay rights activist -- as well as a
bestselling author in his own right -- Rice says that his sexuality was not
instrumental to her decision to forgo Catholicism.
"From the beginning, I've had gay fans, and gay readers who felt that my
works involved a sustained gay allegory," she says. "I didn't set out to do
that, but that was what they perceived. So even when Christopher was a
little baby, I had gay readers and gay friends and knew gay people, and
lived in the Castro district of San Francisco, which was a gay neighborhood.
And so my experience with gay people long preceded Christopher coming out of
the closet and becoming a gay novelist."
How Will Rice's Decision Affect Her Writing?
In the midst of her decision, Rice dismisses the idea that she might return
to writing the sort of fiction that made her famous.
"Certainly I will never go back to being that atheist and that pessimist
that I was," she says. "I live now in a world that I feel God created, and I
feel I live in a world where God witnesses everything that happens. ...
That's a huge change from the atheist I was when I wrote the vampire
Rice says she's now interested "in new themes, new characters, new stories."
She says her upcoming work "will continue to reflect the optimism and the
optimistic viewpoint that I was able to reach when I converted."
"I found what the characters in the vampire novels were looking for. They
were groping in the darkness; they lived in a world without God. I found
God, but that doesn't mean that I have to be a supporting member of any
organized religion," Rice says.
Currently, Rice is working on the third novel in her Songs of the Seraphim
series, which follows the adventures of a former government assassin called
"Certainly a great deal of this pain and this agony will go into that
novel," she says.
Rice says since this decision, she has a "new freedom to confess my fears,
my doubts, my pain, my conflicts, my alienation," and she says she intends
to take advantage of this freedom.
"You know, I don't really like disappointing all my Catholic friends," she
says. "I don't really like disappointing all my Christian friends and
contacts. I really don't like it. It's painful. But I did what I felt I had
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