Certificate of Debaptism


You’ve considered all the available evidence and have come to the conclusion that god does not exist. Indeed, you may well view religion as a dangerous delusion; a force for division and intellectual stagnation within the world. You live your life according to humanist values and shun all trappings of religion. It’s somewhat annoying, therefore, to think that you are listed as someone who was baptized into the Christian religion.

Baptism is something that is done to children without their consent. It is a religious choice made by their parents and, in the fullness of time, may prove entirely contrary to the beliefs of the individual. Therefore, whilst it is essentially a meaningless piece of theatre, there are many atheists who would like to reverse their baptism if the opportunity presented itself.

The rapid growth in atheism in Recent Decades

A report in 1990, for example, showed that there were 210,500,000 atheists in the world, with a further 805,900,000 who classed themselves as non-religious. It’s not surprising therefore that various organizations have sprung up to champion the cause of atheism. One of those is the National Secular Society who has hit on a novel idea; offering atheists the opportunity to de-baptism themselves!

The National Secular Society’s website states that they offer the opportunity to “Liberate yourself from the Original Mumbo-Jumbo that liberated you from the Original Sin you never had!” This feat is achieved by downloading a Certificate of Debaptism from their website and, with over 100,000 downloads, it seems to be proving quite popular.

The National Secular Society is quick, however, to point out that “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.”

That said, there are a lot of atheists who don’t like the idea that the church is still counting them on their list of “believers”. There are countless thousands of people who were baptized and then confirmed who have never possessed a shred of religious belief. The concept of removing oneself from the records of the church is, therefore, an issue that interests many atheists, but the difficulty of doing this is what prompted the National Secular Society to launch their Certificate of Debaptism. This is highlighted by the example of John Hunt. Mister Hunt’s Anglican diocese initially refused to his request to be unbaptized and (rather bizarrely) suggested that “the best way for Mr. Hunt to renounce his baptism was to advertise it in the London Gazette, a journal of record with an ancestry going back to the 17th Century”. This is in contrast to the Catholic church which is willing to place an amendment on its records.

The National Secular Society wants the Anglican church to similarly devise a formal procedure for canceling baptisms, and their semi lighthearted certificate was conceived as an alternative option until such time as atheists have a more formal means of denouncing their baptism. It’ll be interesting to see if this idea takes off in other countries and it could be the perfect birthday present for atheist friends and family!




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