Why did Anne Rice quit Christianity? Gothic fiction author called decision 'painful'

Anne Rice, famous for her novel 'Interview with the Vampire', died due to a stroke at the age of 80 on Saturday, December 11

                            Why did Anne Rice quit Christianity? Gothic fiction author called decision 'painful'
Anne Rice died at the age of 80 (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly, Steven Henry/Getty Images)

Gothic fiction author, Anne Rice, famous for her novel 'Interview with the Vampire', died due to a stroke at the age of 80 on Saturday, December 11. Rice had a complicated, on and off relationship with Christianity before publicly quitting the religion for good in 2010.

"This is Anne’s son Christopher and it breaks my heart to bring you this sad news. Earlier tonight, Anne passed away due to complications resulting from a stroke," Rice's son posted on Facebook and Twitter on his mother's death. Born in New Orleans, Rice spent much of her early life there before moving to Texas, and later to San Francisco. She was the second of four daughters of parents of Irish Catholic descent, Howard O'Brien and Katherine "Kay" Allen O'Brien. But became an agnostic as a young adult. As a young child, Rice studied at St Alphonsus School, a Catholic institution previously attended by her father. Rice was confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church when she was twelve years old. Some of the other authors who passed away this year include Gary Paulsen and Lauren Berlant


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Anne Rice's relationship with Christianity

Songwriter Elton John and writer Anne Rice embrace during curtain call on opening night of "Lestat" at The Palace Theatre April 25, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)


Since Rice was a vocal supporter of equality for gay men and lesbians, including marriage rights, as well as abortion rights and birth control, and her writing reflected these issues, Rice turned to atheism at the age of 18. She did return to the Roman Catholic Church in 1998 after decades of atheism after she fell into a coma and nearly died, which was later determined to be caused by diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). However, she continued to advocate for the LGBT community and abortion rights.

In October 2005, while promoting her book, 'Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt,' she said that she wished to use her life and writing to glorify her belief in God. The Author's Note from 'Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt,' reads: "I had experienced an old-fashioned, strict Roman Catholic childhood in the 1940s and 1950s... we attended daily Mass and Communion in an enormous and magnificently decorated church... Stained-glass windows, the Latin Mass, the detailed answers to complex questions on good and evil—these things were imprinted on my soul forever... I left this church at age 18... I wanted to know what was happening, why so many seemingly good people didn't believe in any organized religion yet cared passionately about their behavior and value of their lives... I broke with the church... I wrote many novels that without my being aware that they reflected my quest for meaning in a world without God."

Why did Anne Rice quit Christianity?

Rice publicly announced her exit from Christianity on July 28, 2010. On her Facebook page, she wrote, "Today I quit being a Christian... 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."

Anne Rice signs copies of her new book ''Blood Canticle" at Barnes and Noble in Astor Place October 30, 2003 in New York City. (Photo By Steven Henry/Getty Images)


Shortly thereafter, she clarified her statement, saying, "My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become."

On her decision to give up on her religion, she told NPR in the August of the same year that it was a "painful" decision. Although there were "last straws," it wasn't a single event that triggered her to reject organized religion. "This is something that had been going on really almost from the beginning of my conversion in 1998," she said. "From the beginning, there were signs that the public face of Catholicism and the public face of Christianity were things that I found very, very difficult to accept."

One of the final straws was when she realized the lengths that the church would go to prevent same-sex marriage. "I didn't anticipate at the beginning that the U.S. bishops were going to come out against same-sex marriage," she said. "That they were actually going to donate money to defeat the civil rights of homosexuals in the secular society... When that broke in the news, I felt an intense pressure. And I am a person who grew up with the saying that all that is needed for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing, and I believe that statement."

Rice added that since this decision, she has a "new freedom to confess my fears, my doubts, my pain, my conflicts, my alienation," and she says she intends to take advantage of this freedom. "You know, I don't really like disappointing all my Catholic friends," she said. "I don't really like disappointing all my Christian friends and contacts. I really don't like it. It's painful. But I did what I felt I had to do."