Archive for August 4, 2010

The Stigma of Christianity

Posted in religion with tags , , , on August 4, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Shocking news broke last week in the world of literature: author Anne Rice has quit Christianity. The status updates on her Facebook page spell out exactly how she feels:

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.

… 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.

It’s a decision that doesn’t come lightly. The day before, Rice posted several links of unChristian-like behavior in the world, including the punk rock ministry group You Can Run But You Cannot Hide stating that Muslims that kill homosexuals are more moral than American Christians, and children of Westboro Baptist Church members firmly believing that all Americans are going to Hell.

Anne Rice’s decision to quit Christianity but still remain in Christ is an interesting, and all too common, decision. And in one status update, she poses and interesting question: “When does a word become unusable? When does it become so burdened with history and horror that it cannot be evoked without destructive controversy?”

The history of Christianity is one that is mired with controversy. From the Crusades in the 13th Century, in which European Christians slaughtered Muslims and Jews in an attempt to win back the Holy Land, to the hate-filled preachers and actions of today, Christianity is a label that many people try to avoid. In fact, the difference between being a Christian and being a follower of Christ is so profound, that many people have written about it. It’s such a big topic of discussion that one church has outlined the difference in a series of video parodies.

It’s a topic that I’ve turned in my mind many times, and still do to this day. Being a Christian has a certain stigma to it. As an outsider looking in, it seems that being a Christian means to hate groups that are not like yours, to live the opposite of what is preached, and to vote straight-ticket Republican.

That kind of stigma could explain why so many people are turning away from organized religion, and instead searching for their own religious affiliation. Ghandi once said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” For many, this is a wake-up call to find something better.

And it should be a wake-up call. When Christians are called to love but instead go out and spread hate, they are acting completely against the narrative. There needs to be a major paradigm shift, and it needs to happen now.

I wish Anne Rice the best of luck. I hope she realizes she has a massive support group of like-minded people, and that she is not alone in trying to confront the hypocrisy.