Written by Gregg Brekke
In response to novelist Anne Rice's public denouncement of Christianity on Facebook, the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black offered words of support and understanding for the acclaimed author, saying her commitment to following Christ with authenticity is admirable and reflects the faith journey taken by many who have found a spiritual home in the 1.1-million-member United Church of Christ.
"I am certain that Anne Rice's public repudiation of Christianity has been a difficult, but seemingly necessary step for her to live authentically as a person of faith and reason," said Black, the UCC's general minister and president. "Many in the United Church of Christ can understand and appreciate her insistence that she must follow a God of love, justice and inclusion."
"Too often we have confused following Christ with defending the institutional church, and we have unnecessarily insisted that we must be of one mind, instead of one heart," Black said. "Hopefully, declarations such as Anne's will challenge and alter our definitions of Christian discipleship and, in the process, change the church itself. I, along with many in the UCC, share Anne Rice's commitment to a personal relationship with Christ that affirms life in its fullness and diversity, not denies its beautiful and sometimes complex realities."
Rice is a best-selling science-fiction author whose vampire-themed books have sold more than 100 million copies.
In a series of status updates on her Facebook page July 29, Rice — who published a 2008 book about her rediscovery of faith — said she could no longer call herself Christian because she refuses to be anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-science, or anti-birth control. Rice insists, however, she remains "an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God ... Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be."
In response, the UCC launched a public campaign on Facebook — "You'd Like the UCC, Anne Rice" — to offer support for the author and introduce her and others to the denomination.
"Many of us who are Christian share Anne Rice's values of inclusion and reason," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, the UCC's communication director who initiated the Facebook campaign. "It's important that she and others know that a church like the UCC exists."
Learn more about the UCC's campaign at <facebook.com/like.the.UCC>.