Quitting your religion

This recent spate of coverage concerning Anne Rice "quitting" Christianity amuses me, and I admit I rather enjoy Salon’s commentary about it. Still, she didn’t quit Christianity – she quit Catholicism, despite being very public about joining up in 1998. Despite the best efforts of the Catholic church to persuade their own otherwise, quitting the church does not mean you leave Christianity. They do not, nor did they ever, own Jesus.

And for those of us who were born into the Christian church, and who considered Jesus and decided … "nah," the famous author joining or leaving the Catholic church makes little difference. Besides, I find the religious experiences and reasoning of Poppy Z. Brite within Catholicism much more interesting – and Brite goes in eyes open to what’s wrong with that particular denomination. In fact, some of the very core of current Catholic church teachings are set against Brite depending on the parish, and yet this particular cult author forges on in the face of it, connected to a much bigger picture.

I think the fuss about Rice is not that she "quit Jesus," it’s that she thought she could. Even in the liberal denomination I was raised with, confirmation was a lot like being made in the Mafia. Once you’re in, there’s no getting out. You may not see it that way, but if someone else with a vested interested in keeping butts in the pews had a say, you were Christian forever no matter what your personal spiritual experience might dictate. ((No, I have no grudge against Christianity, at all. And I’m well aware that there are too many types of Christians out there for the term "Christian thinking" to apply.)) Most enforcers in most churches are little old ladies laying on the guilt and wildly uninformed assumption, and as weapons go…well, I’m glad they’re not usually armed.  I’ll never forget the look on the campus pastor’s face when I asked him about having my confirmation vows revoked. I might as well have casually requested a recipe for cooking a baby. His answer was, essentially, "There is no getting out." I can only imagine if the local old ladies at the church had known about me, because there were a few talks through that year about where and how I was headed.

Judging from the many, many attempts it took me to persuade my former church to stop sending me their newsletter ((my mother was quite liberal about sharing my unlisted address with anyone willing to guilt trip me about my lifestyle during my first marriage))  they definitely bought into the "if you’re in, you’re not getting out" perspective. Again, all religions are cults by the literal definition, and all such organizations need people to stay for them to survive. Part of my own very mild harassment was the normal behavior of an organism attempting to sustain life. While wildly gossiped about, my own religious conversion was not newsworthy, nor is it now.

Anne Rice quitting draws yet more attention to a paradigm that I left more than a decade ago. I’m curious as to how this works out, because if she wrote a 95 Theses they’d be downright florid.Tags: , ,