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London — A secular organization in Britain that backs an atheist ad campaign on London’s buses is now producing “certificates of de-baptism” for people wishing to renounce their Christian faith — and claims it is getting thousands of takers.
The National Secular Society says more than 100,000 ex-worshippers have downloaded the de-baptism certificates from its Web site, and that thousands of others have ordered up parchment versions at about $4 a copy.
The NSS Web site (www.secularism.org.uk) advertises the certificates this way: “Liberate yourself from the Original Mumbo-Jumbo that liberated you from the Original Sin you never had.”
The British initiative is among the latest in a series of atheist-oriented campaigns in Europe. Italy’s Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics, for instance, sponsored a nationwide “De-Baptism Day” last October to encourage Roman Catholics to renounce their church affiliation.
In Spain, a high court ruled that Manuel Blat, of Valencia, could have his baptism records erased under data protection laws.
Terry Sanderson, president of the NSS, cites Pope Benedict XVI’s recent contention that the use of condoms does not help combat the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa as an example of church stridency that is leading to backlashes such as the “de-baptism” certificates.
“The Catholic Church is so politically active at the moment that I think that is where the hostility is coming from,” Sanderson told the French news agency AFP. “In Catholic countries, there is a very strong feeling of wanting to punish the Church by leaving it.”
In Britain, the NSS chief said, “the fact that people are willing to pay for the (de-baptism) parchments shows how seriously they are taking them.”

By Al Webb
Religion News Service
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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