The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


posted by deacon greg kandra

Not content with simply renouncing their faith — or just ignoring it and sleeping in on Sundays — a number of non-believers have decided to take things a step further:

More than 100,000 Britons have recently downloaded “certificates of de-baptism” from the Internet to renounce their Christian faith.

The initiative launched by a group called the National Secular Society (NSS) follows atheist campaigns here and elsewhere, including a London bus poster which triggered protests by proclaiming “There’s probably no God.”

“We now produce a certificate on parchment and we have sold 1,500 units at three pounds (4.35 dollars, 3.20 euros) a pop,” said NSS president Terry Sanderson, 58.

John Hunt, a 58-year-old from London and one of the first to try to be “de-baptised,” held that he was too young to make any decision when he was christened at five months old.

The male nurse said he approached the Church of England to ask it to remove his name. “They said they had sought legal advice and that I should place an announcement in the London Gazette,” said Hunt, referring to one of the official journals of record of the British government.

So that’s what he did — his notice of renouncement was published in the Gazette in May 2008 and other Britons have followed suit.

Michael Evans, 66, branded baptising children as “a form of child abuse” — and said that when he complained to the church where he was christened he was told to contact the European Court of Human Rights.

The Church of England said its official position was not to amend its records. “Renouncing baptism is a matter between the individual and God,” a Church spokesman told AFP.

“We are not a ‘membership’ church, and do not keep a running total of the number of baptised people in the Church of England, and such totals do not feature in the statistics that we regularly publish,” he added.

De-baptism organisers say the initiative is a response to what they see as increasing stridency from churches — the latest last week when Pope Benedict XVI stirred global controversy on a trip to AIDS-ravaged Africa by saying condom use could further spread of the disease.

“The Catholic Church is so politically active at the moment that I think that is where the hostility is coming from,” said Sanderson. “In Catholic countries there is a very strong feeling of wanting to punish the church by leaving it.”

In Britain, where government figures say nearly 72 percent of the population list themselves as Christian, Sanderson feels this “hostility” is fueling the de-baptism movement.

Theologian Paul Murray at Durham University disagrees. “That is not my experience,” he said, but concedes that change is in the air.

“We are in an interesting climate where Catholicism and other belief systems have moved into the public, pluralist arena, alongside secularists,” he said.

You can read more at the link. You can see one of the certificates in question above. If you click on the image, you can enlarge it and read it.

A wave of the deacon’s stole to The Curt Jester.

Comments read comments(7)
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Dcn Scott Dodge

posted March 31, 2009 at 9:09 am

This is a new thing for Catholics and Anglican/Episcopalians, but it is very common and has been for some time for former Mormons to petition to have their names removed from membership, a request that the LDS Church will honor. However, I do not think it possible and, for me, not even desirable, to have records erased (i.e., to not show that I ever belonged, was baptized, etc.). Those are historical facts if nothing else.

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Bob Cavalcante Jr.

posted March 31, 2009 at 9:21 am

What part of “indelible” do they not understand? What they’re doing isn’t removing the sacrament of Baptism, because they can’t by any act of man. But they are blaspheming against the Holy Spirit and in fact, committing the only indelible sin!”Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” Mark 3:28-29May God have mercy upon their souls.Bob Cavalcante

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Debbie Adams

posted March 31, 2009 at 10:17 am

Long time reader, first time commenter. It really doesn’t matter who has what written on any piece of paper for whatever reason because even a “debaptized” relationship with God is still a relationship with God.

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posted March 31, 2009 at 10:28 am

I agree with Bob in that it’s humanly impossible to “undue” a Catholic Baptism. It is however, astounding as to what lengths we humans will go to to “rationalize” our sinful lives. More than anything this article is just simply SAD!And as always, they are wrong in in their judgement of the church. One stand up guy, Dr. Ed Green, a senior AIDS scientist at Harvard, who claims to be a liberal, sided “conclusively” with Pope Benedict. Green claims that not only condoms do not prevent AIDS, they INCREASE AIDS and all would be wise to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church! Now how’s that for an elite Harvard Guy?Funny how things like that never make the MSM. I think I also saw something similar recently in the medical journal Lancet, buy admit I did not read that article, only the headline.Here’s the link for Dr. Green’s article. We would all be wise to never second guess the wisdom of the CC. I see it like my checkbook. The mistake I THINK is there somehow always turns out to be MINE.

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Dcn Scott Dodge

posted March 31, 2009 at 7:19 pm

At the expense of starting an argument, which I do not want to do, but as believing, practicing Catholics who are fairly well educated in our faith, we believe and accept that baptism, to use the old catechetical formula, leaves an indelible mark, one that cannot be erased. We accept the objective nature of this claim (i.e., it is true whether one chooses to believe it or not). On a pastoral level, this is not what is at stake here. Merely explaining that to a person who, for whatever reason, has chosen to request de-baptism will do nothing to dissuade her/him. In fact, to such a person you may just be be pouring gasoline on the fire and pushing them him/her farther away. I am inclined to agree with Debbie that such people at least are not numb to faith, even if their way of responding to the Church presently is negative. As I sought to point out in my initial comment, there is no way the Church can accede to such requests. For one reason, at some point in their lives they were baptized. It is a fact, it is something that really and truly happened to them in time and space, if nothing else.

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posted April 1, 2009 at 10:53 am

I think we all understand the Christian theological issues here. But even from a secular standpoint, you have a church register that record an actual event that happened on a certain day. Like it or not, it happened. There is no “human rights” violation, it is just the record of a fact.

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posted April 2, 2009 at 12:55 am

Another bunch of loons on the wide road to hell. And they heard Jesus and said your teaching is too hard and walked away. And our Lord just watched them. He did not try to clarify his position to make it easier or more tolerant. He then turned to the apostles and asked if they to wanted to go. Nothing holding you back. You have free will. And the apostles stayed for they knew he was the Christ even if what he had said they did not yet understand. Where else would they go. So to do we watch these go away. We can pray for their return, but they have to come back after their trip to the time of feeding the pigs and the lowest of the low with complete humility.So when the Church says this is non negotiable, hear Christ say are you too going to walk away? And if you do, He will let you go.

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