indicates that people are not just indifferent to religion –
which has been the traditional British approach –
but are actually becoming quite hostile to it."
-Terry Sanderson. President, National Secular Society
In England, atheists are pushing back against the idea of having the Church of England as the establishment faith by being "debaptized." The idea is that one holds a brief ceremony of renouncing the Christian faith, signs a certificate and is removed from the official rolls of the Church of England.
The rub is that the church says it won't remove a record as the books record events that happened and one can't make the earlier baptism not happen with a ceremony now. Beside that, the church notes that it doesn't count its members based on baptism.
The particulars on debaptism come from the website of the National Secular Society of England whose certificates have been downloaded more than 100,000 times. The certificate reads,
The certificate declares:The website adds,
I ________ having been subjected to the Rite of Christian Baptism in infancy (before reaching an age of consent), hereby publicly revoke any implications of that Rite and renounce the Church that carried it out. In the name of human reason, I reject all its Creeds and all other such superstition in particular, the perfidious belief that any baby needs to be cleansed by Baptism of alleged ORIGINAL SIN, and the evil power of supposed demons. I wish to be excluded henceforth from enhanced claims of church membership numbers based on past baptismal statistics used, for example, for the purpose of securing legislative privilege.
Obviously, our irreverent certificate of debaptism is a bit of fun. After all, the concept of baptism is a complete fantasy that has no meaning outside the heads of the religious.Italian Campaign
A similar campaign has been underway in Italy where lapsed Roman Catholics want to separate themselves from what they see as the superstition of the Church. The Italian Union of Rationalists and Agnostics (UAAR) website offers a download of the actus defectionis, the official document which one must send via snail mail to the parish church where the baptism took place. The priest then makes a note in the register that the person has permanently strayed from the flock. While ninety percent of Italians are Catholic, only a third attend church. UAAR site manager Raffaele Carcano says, "We see a traffic spike every time the Pope says something unpopular."
The full text of the BBC News article is online here: Atheists Call for "Debaptism", the video version is embedded below:
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