Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.



"The growing amount of interest in the concept of de-baptism
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:
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.
The website adds,
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:



  • At 3/23/2009 7:38 AM, Anonymous Amber said…

    I have not heard of this before. One of the first thoughts that came to my head was "where are the parents of these people? Did they not raise them in the church to understand baptism?" This makes my heart really sad. Hopefully some day they will understand and have Jesus in their lives.

  • At 3/23/2009 10:30 AM, Anonymous Val Weave said…

    Parents or not it wouldnt make much a difference. My question is, "Is it really such a big deal to have a print out that you dont believe?" Really how does that make anybody special, perhaps they can make wallet sized prints to show off at parties. Its just some bored athiests trying to make a name for themselves in the tabloids. But really if they want to go this far, they might as well walk around with name tags that explicitly says " Hi I am So'n'So a self claimed Athiest" At least that will save time and direct believers away from such folks. Maybe its just wishful thinking on my behalf. Really, Photoshop, Microsoft Word and a cheap printer, and your set up right from you own home, why even bother the church with it. But if the so called athiest doesnt believe in any god whatsoever, then why ask the church to do anything? Becuase a church, any church is for a god, and if you believe a god doesnt exist, then the church really doesnt have any meaning either. Just saying, its odd to say you dont believe and then ask a religous system to reverse something you dont believe in anyway. So would they really be athiests? Or are they really acknowlegeing that the so called "superstition" holds some sort of tangible power over reality to the extent that they have to go back and reverse it? Athiests are curious people in my opinion.

  • At 3/23/2009 4:15 PM, Blogger Tom Sramek, Jr. said…

    I think the point that is being made is not a request that the church somehow legitimize a lack of belief or a renunciation of belief, but that for the purposes of counting "baptized members" it should be realistic about exactly who is a current member and who is not. If a church, for instance, touts 3 million members for the purposes of either ecclesiastical or secular political clout, but only 2 million consider themselves members and only 1 million show up to church regularly, there are obviously not 3 million members in any but the academic sense.

    The Episcopal Church is hardly immune from this. I've seen churches that have under 100 on a Sunday morning touting hundreds of "baptized members" as if simply having 200+ people on their rolls counts for something. This is also why, when dioceses in developing countries start throwing around figures of X million members, I wonder where such numbers come from.

    I think it interesting that in The Purpose-Driven Church Pastor Rick Warren makes the point that churches really should have more people in the pews on Sunday morning then are on their roles as members, since that assumes a large percentage of members regularly attending plus a significant number of newcomers. Whatever you may think of his politics, he makes a good point.

  • At 3/23/2009 4:27 PM, Anonymous Kelly said…

    Val Weaver,

    I disagree that parents don't make a difference. If you are raised in a family that upholds the baptismal vows and the ways of Christ then you tend not to become an atheist and deny Him.

    I do agree that it is ridiculous to be "debaptised"! If you don't believe, then why bother?

  • At 3/24/2009 8:30 AM, Anonymous Val said…

    Where I think you disagree with me is that I left my opening sentence kind of drifting, for the subject at hand of the Depatism article, and I said "parents or not it wouldnt make a difference". What I mean by that is that it doesnt matter and wont matter how these people were raised, they are going to exist. They make choices usually to assert themselves against their parents. But I agree parents make all the difference to children, they may unkowingly define a child to adulthood. This is good and bad, because no parent is perfect, and no parent gets it right. Does that make sense, sorry for the confusion. My post was in reply to Ambers comment of " Where are the parents of these people" but my argument is, are the parents relevant to this case, thats all.

  • At 3/24/2009 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Some parents do get it right with their children. And, it does matter how they are raised.Parents are relevant to this argument. True, some people are rebellious against their upbringing but not all.

  • At 3/24/2009 3:04 PM, Anonymous denise said…

    As parents, we take a pretty big risk in baptizing our children, it's foolish to think otherwise. Even if you are "raised in the church", there is no gaurantee that you will come to know unfortunate fact as intelligent human beings we must accept.
    I too would be angry at being associated with a religon that I didn't believe in, especially against my will. I think that's what these folks are so ticked off about. It's a shame that they aren't having this dialouge with their parents, but I guess that would make too much sense!


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