Anne Rice: Moderate & Liberal Christianity

I highly respect Anne Rice for being so open about her views. I think people, no matter what their beliefs or change of beliefs, should always be honest.

I was raised as a liberal Christian and so I appreciate liberal Christians like Anne Rice standing up for moderation and humility. Too many religious people act like they have the answer for everything. There is nothing that irritates me more than a fundamentalist who defends their dogma through intellectual dishonesty and/or righteous arrogance.

Just imagine if all the religious liberals and religious moderates of the world (whether Christian, Muslim or whatever) stood up and made themselves heard. I suspect that most religious people are moderate on most issues and my sense is that the numbers of religious liberals is larger than one would guess from watching the mainstream media. The religious fundamentalists and extremists are very loud and very active. They dominate the political narrative about moral and cultural issues. Through evangelism and political organization, they have immense influence. Just consider how the Mormon church influenced (through illegal donations) public opinion about Prop 8 and contributed in no small part to its originally having been passed into law. When liberal and moderate Christians do speak up about civil rights and the public good, about caring for the poor and helping the needy, rightwing leaders such as Glenn Beck attack them.

Anne Rice is the biggest name that has come up in criticism of religious fundamentalism from the perspective of religious moderation and humility. I hope her example will help others to also speak up. I’d love to see someone like Michael Moore make a movie about Christianity in America and it’s relationship to progressivism and the civil rights movement. Few people realize that Moore is not only a Christian but is specifically inspired by Jesus Christ in doing his work as a documentarian and activist. Because liberals are so moderate and humble in their religiosity, they tend to believe religion should be kept as a personal issue. That is a generally good attitude, but I think it’s time to shake off some of that humility and demonstrate that liberal religiosity isn’t something to be hidden.

I’m not religious myself these days. I can’t say I’m fighting for my own conception of true Christianity. I really don’t care what others believe Christianity to be. I’m just tired of the overt politicization of Christianity by the religious right. Going by the polls, the younger generations are also tired of this religious politicization. The liberals and moderates shouldn’t become like the rightwingers in their challenging the politicization of the rightwingers. Unlike what some rightwingers believe, this isn’t a fight where only one version of Christianity can become victorious. I just want all voices to be heard so that there can be sincere discussion about issues that are very important.

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 * Note: I don’t mean to imply that all conservatives are fundamentalist extremists and far rightwingers. In using the term “moderate”, I’m also including moderate conservatives. I’m actually arguing that most people who identify as conservative probably are moderate. To illustrate this, polls show that more Americans identify as conservative than liberal, but if you ask about specific issues most Americans lean towards liberal/progressive views.

4 thoughts on “Anne Rice: Moderate & Liberal Christianity

  1. Actually, I consider myself a true conservative, not defined by anyone on either side but as someone who wants the governements control over me to be as limited as the Constitution requires in all areas, including my religious principles. I followed along with your article, understanding your view point right up until you brought in Michael Moore; at which point you lost all credibility to influence anyone outside of those who are in precise agreement with you. I’ve always believed that an informed and caring people, reguardless of your positions on politics or religion or whatever, is what makes our country strong. However, if your intention is to “preach to the choir” then continue your narrative, but if you truly want to influence others to at least understand your viewpoints, then try to be less divisive and present your case. Being what you criticize others as isn’t going to help.

    • As far as I know, there is no choir I’m preaching to. In fact, I don’t even consider myself a Christian these days. I wasn’t praising liberal and moderate Christians because I necessarily agree with them about everything. Within liberal and moderate Christianity, there is a diversity of views and that is fine.

      If you don’t like Michael Moore, that is your own personal problem. I’m not defending him. I merely pointed out that he is a Christian who claims to be inspired by the example of Jesus Christ. In his documentary about capitalism, he even interviewed one or two Catholic priests he personally knew.

      I really don’t know how much I agree with either Anne Rice or Michael Moore. It doesn’t matter. I wasn’t discussing specific issues. I was arguing for liberalism and moderation, and in the US liberal Christians tend toward more moderate views. Still, I wasn’t arguing against the fact that moderate conservatives exist as well. My central point is that the conservative Christians who are the most vocal aren’t moderate.

      I actually don’t care if you perceive my message as divisive. I’m just describing what I see. From my perspective, it’s the religious (far) right that is divisive. I was arguing against this divisiveness. If you feel divisiveness in your own heart towards social justice Christians such as Michael Moore, that is something you will have to struggle with in your own way. It isn’t of my concern.

      In general, I don’t care about Christianity in and of itself. I’m curious about Christianity in terms of it’s influence on society and in terms of human nature, but as I said I’m not a Christian. I admit I feel no love for Catholicism as it has no personal meaning to me. It’s all the same to me whether Anne Rice is a Catholic or not or even if she entirely leaves Christianity. And it’s fine with me that Michael Moore has chosen to remain a Catholic. All I care about is that both of them stand up for what they believe and the fact that neither of them is an extremist.

      If you don’t understand the difference between someone like Moore and someone like Beck, then maybe you should read a previous post of mine:

      Specifically, here is the part of that post I was thinking of:

      Beck often uses violence as a theme in his show. One particular example was when he was talking about killing Michael Moore and he wondered if he should kill Moore himself or hire someone. I think that is an extreme statement to make on mainstream tv. Conservatives don’t seem offended by such hate-filled language, but if a liberal said something like that conservatives would go batshit crazy. Moore has never made a statement like that. Moore even said he wouldn’t even say he hated Bush even though he strongly disagreed with him. From Moore’s Christian perspective, hatred and violence aren’t Christian values. Also, he believes religion is a personal matter and shouldn’t be used as a talking point or a wedge issue. Moore chooses to live his values rather than righteously preach down at others.

      Moore is considered by rightwingers as the most loony of the leftwingers. So, if Moore is the worst kind of liberal, that is a compliment to liberalism. Compared to the worst kind of conservative, Moore comes off as a moderate. Even if you disagree with Moore’s claims or arguments, at least he doesn’t threaten violence and spout hate speech.

  2. Benjamin, I agree with what you have said. For over a year now I have been making my exodus out of the conservative wing of the church. I do not consider myself a Christian at this point in my journey. I opt for a more personalized faith and believe God is too big to be contained in one particular set of beliefs.
    I believe it is crucial for moderate and liberal Christians to make themselves heard. Liberalism is what our generation is screaming for. While I believe everyone has the right to believe what they want, I am waiting for the day when love, compassion and acceptance are the talk of the hour, and fundamentalist extremists are the minority. Christianity has, in my opinion, become a very angry, militaristic religion.

    I have appreciated Anne Rice’s honesty, and I pray that she will inspire others to raise their hands and begin to ask those questions that have been burdening their hearts; those questions that their leaders, political and especially religious, have condemned them for entertaining.

    • Hello Alexandria

      I actually don’t even mind conservative Christians. The only thing I mind is mean-spirited righteousness and ideological radicalism. But not all conservative Christians feel compelled to spread fear and hatred. Most conservative Christians are probably decent people.

      I just have a visceral response to righteousness. It’s not that being righteous makes someone wrong, but such an attitude doesn’t seem very Christ-like to me. I grew up as a Christian and I’ve never renounced my Christianity. I’m still a spiritual person. So, I’m certainly not trying to criticize faith, but I am arguing that righteousness isn’t a very positive form of faith and maybe isn’t really faith at all.

      I don’t know. I’m just tired of Christianity being used as a wedge issue. It really pisses me off that someone like Glenn Beck thinks he is an authority to tell social justice Christians that they aren’t real Christians and then praises Martin Luther King jr who was the most famous social justice Christian in US history. What does Beck (& people like him) think he is accomplishing by attacking other Christians? It particularly seems odd for Beck who is a Mormon to argue about what is real Christianity considering most fundamentalists don’t consider Mormonism to be real Christianity.

      It all seems stupid and silly to me. If you have faith, that is fine. But don’t try to bash it over other people’s heads.

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