I feel somewhat responsible for Ms. Riceâ€™s recent deconversion. At the risk of name dropping, let me explain. Back in 2007 during the Democratic primaries Rice wrote a very positive endorsement of my radically 2k book, A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State. In that same post at her blog, Rice also endorsed Hilary Clinton. Those worried about the 2k infection could plausibly conclude that Hart and Clinton are in the same ballpark of a liberal and secular version of the United States and of Christianity. Rice was, at the time, recently out of the closet about her recovery of her Roman Catholic upbringing.
In the summer of 2007 she wrote:
To my readers:
Some time ago, I made an effort to remove from this website all political statements made by me in the past. Many of these statements were incomplete statements, and many were dated. And a good many of the emails I received about these statements indicated that they were confusing to my newer Christian readers. I felt, when I removed the material, that I was doing what was best for my personal vocation — which is, to write books for Jesus Christ.
My vocation at this time remains unchanged. I am committed to writing books for the Lord, and those books right now, are books about His life on Earth as God and Man. I hope my books will reach all Christians, regardless of denomination or background. This has become my life.
However, I have come to feel that my Christian conscience requires of me a particular political statement at this time.
I hope you will read this statement in a soft voice. It is meant to be spoken in a soft voice.
Let me say first of all that I am devoutly committed to the separation of church and state in America. I believe that the separation of church and state has been good for all Christians in this country, and particularly good for Catholics who had a difficult time gaining acceptance as Americans before the presidential election of John F. Kennedy. The best book I can recommend right now on the separation of church and state is A SECULAR FAITH, Why Christianity Favors The Separation of Church and State, by Darryl Hart. However there are many other good books on the subject.
Believing as I do that church and state should remain separate, I also believe that when one enters the voting booth, church and state become one for the voter. The voter must vote her conscience. He or she must vote for the party and candidate who best reflect all that the voter deeply believes. Conscience requires the Christian to vote as a Christian. Commitment to Christ is by its very nature absolute.
My commitment and my vote, therefore, must reflect my deepest Christian convictions; and for me these convictions are based on the teachings of Christ in the Four Gospels. . . .
To summarize, I believe in voting, I believe in voting for one of the two major parties, and I believe my vote must reflect my Christian beliefs.
Bearing all this in mind, I want to say quietly that as of this date, I am a Democrat, and that I support Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.
Though I deeply respect those who disagree with me, I believe, for a variety of reasons, that the Democratic Party best reflects the values I hold based on the Gospels. Those values are most intensely expressed for me in the Gospel of Matthew, but they are expressed in all the gospels. Those values involve feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, and above all, loving oneâ€™s neighbors and loving oneâ€™s enemies. A great deal more could be said on this subject, but I feel that this is enough.
I want to add here that I am Pro-Life. I believe in the sanctity of the life of the unborn. Deeply respecting those who disagree with me, I feel that if we are to find a solution to the horror of abortion, it will be through the Democratic Party. . . .
I repeat: I am a Christian; I am a Democrat. I support Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.
If I receive emails on this issue, I will do my best to answer them.
August 10, 2007
I tend to think that Rice missed the point of A Secular Faith, that what is more important when entering the voting booth is U.S. law and policy, not which party best embodies the gospel. But when a popular author endorses your book, to object is to look ungrateful. (Plus, I don’t have Anne’s digits.)
Now she says that she is dropping her Christian identity:
I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being â€œChristianâ€ or to being part of Christianity. Itâ€™s simply impossible for me to â€œbelongâ€ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, Iâ€™ve tried. Iâ€™ve failed. Iâ€™m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else. . . .
In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
If Ms. Rice had been able to read Dave VanDrunenâ€™s new book on two-kingdom theology she might have worked out better her commitment to the separation of church and state and belief in the Bible. I confess, I did not give her enough help in A Secular Faith.
But if Rice supported Hilary Clinton for Christian reasons, then her renunciation of the church must also mean a switch in politics. That raises the possibility of voting for Republicans and maybe even endorsing Bret McAtee if he decides to run for the Senate again. But that doesnâ€™t make sense because Bret is anti-gay rights. Iâ€™m confused.
At least I have a political theology to help with the confusion â€“ you look to the state for law and to the church for gospel; if you look the wrong way, youâ€™re sure to get hit in the crossfire.