Anne Rice Explains Leaving Christianity, Says Belief Is Not a Choice
Author Anne Rice has released a video sharing her spiritual beliefs with her close to 700,000 Facebook followers and millions of readers worldwide, stating that although she is no longer a part of the Christian belief system, she still prays to a "Higher Power" every day.
"I believe that there is a Higher Power, but what that Higher Power is, I do not know," Rice says in her Sept. 18 video. "Is it a personal higher power with emotions that cares about us personally? I hope so. But do I know that that's what's out there? No I don't. Do I pray to this Higher Power? Yes, I pray every day. I pray at morning, I pray at night, I pray all during the day."
On the subject of personal faith, the author notes that belief is something that either comes to a person, or doesn't.
"I don't think that belief is a choice. I really don't. It's no more a choice than being gay is a choice. It's not something you can choose. You can choose to go to a church, you can choose to pray, you can choose to read the Bible, you can choose to go to open your mind and your heart to God – to a particular belief system, to a minister, to a priest, to a teacher, to a rabbi – but you can't really choose whether you believe or not. All you can do is discover whether or not you believe."
Rice, 70, has a long and complicated relationship with faith and Christianity. She became an atheist during college in 1960, and remained one until 1998, when she came back to the church of her childhood, the Roman Catholic Church. During that time, she authored the Vampire Chronicles series, beginning with 1973's bestseller Interview with the Vampire, which was later adapted into a film and launched her to worldwide fame. Her work includes various other supernatural titles, as well as a few erotica books written under a pseudonym.
After rejoining the Christian religion, for a period of time she decided to write books only directly linked with religion – in 2005 she wrote Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, which was focused on Jesus' life as a little boy, followed by Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana, a very personal book that looked at Jesus life up to and including his baptism in the Jordan River and the beginning of his public life.
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"The Jesus of these books is the Jesus of the Bible. He is the Jesus of Orthodox Christianity. He is God and man, and these were fictional attempts to imagine what daily life was to Jesus," Rice explained.
The author said she used all of her tools as writer to make the books as believable as possible and true to the Bible, and she feels that out of all the books she has written in her life, Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana was probably the best one.
The books she wrote during her time as a Christian include the angel-themed Songs of the Seraphim series, including a personal memoir about her conversation and why she turned to Christ, titled Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession.
In it, Rice explains: "In the moment of surrender, I let go of all the theological or social questions which had kept me from [God] for countless years. I simply let them go. There was the sense, profound and wordless, that if He knew everything I did not have to know everything, and that, in seeking to know everything, I'd been, all of my life, missing the entire point. No social paradox, no historic disaster, no hideous record of injustice or misery should keep me from Him."
In 2010, however, the New Orleans native, who currently resides in California, left organized religion and eventually the entire Christian belief system.
"I simply could no longer state that I believed in it. And I knew that when I did that, that was going to be a disappointment to many readers who had read those two books on Jesus, and also many people who had supported me as an author. Christians who had welcomed me onto TV shows, radio shows, who had written supportive reviews, who had recommended them to other people – I knew I was going to disappoint them," Rice says in the video.
Rice has been very outspoken on political and social issues, particularity when it comes to the acceptance of homosexuals in the church, which she is strongly in favor of. Her one son, Christopher Rice, is gay, and also a published author.
Still, Rice thinks fondly of her Christian novels, and even admits heartbreak at the thought that the Jesus she wrote about may not exist.
"When I look back at the love I had for Christ when I was writing these books, my heart breaks. Because I can't say now whether that person Jesus Christ really exists, or whether he was an artifact of my faith and belief. Did he have a reality outside of me? I honestly don't know," she says.
Rice explained that people who no longer believe can choose to lie about it or ignore their lack of faith, but in 2010 she felt that she had to be honest and confess that she simply did not believe in the Christian system any longer.
Besides sharing that she still prays to a Higher Power, however, she also insisted that human beings do have souls, which gives people the ability to empathize with others.
"I believe that life is an incredible gift," Rice continues. "If I died tonight, I would be thankful that my eyes opened on this world, that I had the life I had, that I experienced all the things that I experienced – I would be grateful to somebody. Now, whether there is somebody out there that is going to hear that gratitude or care about it, I don't know – but I hope there is somebody out there. I try to live my life so that I can say to that being 'Thank you for the gift of life and I hope I have done the very best with it that I could do.'"
Her latest work, The Wolf Gift, marks a return to Gothic and supernatural themes, telling the story of a journalist bitten and turned into a werewolf.