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Atheists Choose ‘De-Baptism’ to Renounce Childhood Faith

posted by nsymmonds

Up until last summer, Jennifer Gray of Columbus, Ohio, considered herself “a weak Christian” whose baptism at age 11 in a Kentucky church came to mean less and less to her as she gradually lost faith in God.
Then the 32-year-old medical transcriptionist took a decisive step, one that previously hadn’t been available. She got “de-baptized.”
In a type of mock ceremony that’s now been performed in at least four states, a robed “priest” used a hairdryer marked “reason” in an apparent bid to blow away the waters of baptism once and for all.
Several dozen participants then fed on a “de-sacrament” (crackers with peanut butter) and received certificates assuring they had “freely renounced a previous mistake, and accepted Reason over Superstition.”
For Gray, the lighthearted spirit of last summer’s Atheist Coming Out Party and De-Baptism Bash in suburban Westerville, Ohio, served a higher purpose than merely spoofing a Christian rite.
“It was very therapeutic,” Gray said in an interview. “It was a chance to laugh at the silly things I used to believe as a child. It helped me admit that it was OK to think the way I think and to not have any religious beliefs.”
Within the past year, “de-baptism” ceremonies have attracted as many as 250 participants at atheist conventions in Ohio, Texas, Florida and Georgia. More have taken place on college campuses in recent years, according to Hemant Mehta, chair of the board of directors for the Secular Student Alliance, a group that promotes atheism among high school and college students.
“If we’re having a winter solstice or summer solstice get-together or some other event, we might say: `Who wants to get de-baptized?”‘ said Greg McDowell, the Florida state director for American Atheists, an advocacy and networking group. “It’s a bit of satire. People will play the fool by waving their arms in the air and saying, `I got de-baptized!’ But the paperwork is still legit.”
Some of the so-called “de-baptized” have used their certificates to petition churches to remove their names from baptismal rolls. One argument: they were baptized without their consent as children and should now be declared de-baptized.
Some churches, however, aren’t budging on what they regard as an irreversible sacrament.
Atheist Gary Mueller recently mailed his de-baptism certificate to St. Bonaventure Catholic Church in Concord, Calif., and asked to be dropped from its baptismal record. The church told him, in effect, that he was all wet.
“While we do not remove a name/person from a Baptism register, we can note alongside your name that `you have left the Roman Catholic Church,”‘ the Rev. Richard Mangini replied in an e-mail. “I hope that God surprises you one day and lets you know that He is quite well.”
In Christian theology, baptism can’t be undone. If a Southern Baptist renounces his or her baptism, then that person is usually presumed to have never received an authentic baptism in the first place, according to Nathan Finn, assistant professor of Baptist studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
For mainline Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christians, baptism is commonly understood as a sign or means of grace and a covenant that God maintains even when humans turn away, said Laurence Stookey, professor emeritus of preaching and worship at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington. He said “de-baptizers” misunderstand baptism when they caricature it as an attempt at magic.
Baptism “is a kind of adoption where you become a child of God, of the church and of the family,” Stookey said. “You can renounce your physical parents, (the church and God), but they cannot renounce you because you are their child. Anybody who makes fun of baptism probably hasn’t gone into it in enough depth to know that.”
De-baptism efforts have been growing internationally in recent years. More than 100,000 Britons downloaded de-baptism certificates from the National Secular Society (NSS) between 2005 and 2009, according to NSS campaigner Stephen Evans. Upwards of 1,000 Italians requested de-baptism certificates prior to Italy’s “De-Baptism Day” last October, according to Italy’s Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.
Public ceremonies to confer de-baptism, however, seem to be primarily an American phenomenon.
“I think a de-baptism ceremony (in Europe) would strike a lot of secularists and atheists as kind of pointless,” Evans said. “They would leave the ceremonies to the religious.”
Not all American non-believers have warmed to de-baptism rituals.
Secularist Phil Zuckerman, a Pitzer College sociologist who studies apostates, said he would never take part in such an event because it “feels intrinsically negative” and “immature.”
Even so, he said, de-baptisms may serve a cathartic function for some participants, as well as a political one.
“For a long time, non-religious people in the Bible Belt just kept quiet, but they aren’t keeping quiet anymore,” Zuckerman said. “I think that’s largely a reaction to George W. Bush’s presidency. (Atheists) were saying, `The government is being taken over by very religious people. We need to stand up and say: We’re here. We’re secular. Deal with it.”‘
Atheist groups expect more de-baptisms in years ahead. Mehta, of the Secular Students Alliance, says college groups already bring blow driers to campus recruitment events, offering to de-baptize undergraduates on the spot.
Meanwhile, organizers of de-baptisms are broadening their mockery to include other religions. At the American Atheists’ national convention in Atlanta last April, the de-baptism event included a dance where women in burqas stripped down to red-sequined leotards, according to Blair Scott, the group’s national affiliate director.
The goal, he said, was to say blasphemy shouldn’t be prohibited.
“We made fun of Islam, we made fun of Hinduism, we made fun of Christianity with intent to be blasphemous on purpose to make a point” about a proposed anti-blasphemy initiative at the United Nations, Scott said. “It’s not done with malice or intent to offend.
But anytime you criticize religion or poke fun at what atheists would call the sillier parts of religion, you’re going to offend somebody. There’s just no way around that.”
By G. JEFFREY MacDONALD
c. 2009 Religion News Service
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.



  • nnmns

    It sounds very healthy. Not having suffered a baptism or membership in a superstitious church, it doesn’t apply to me. I’m happy about that and grateful to my parents.

  • Henrietta22

    I’m grateful to my parents, too, for having me baptized. They taught me about God in such a way that when I listen to the Fundamentalist beliefs today so ingrained in the last 70 yrs. by the power drivers it seems like a different religion entirely. I’m sorry that people have been so hurt and for so long by an angry unloving God that they feel the need to extinguish Him in order to be free of all their hurt.

  • http://ohioskeptic.com/ dmaxwell

    @Henrietta22,
    Speaking for myself, I can say that my conversion to atheism had nothing to do with feeling ‘hurt’ by god, my parents, or anything like that. I just do not believe that there is a god. I don’t think it takes any kind of hurt or trauma, as some people believe. Simple intellectual honesty with one’s self is all that is required. I was happy when I was religious, and I’m happy now.

  • Joshua

    The charge of intellectual honesty as a cause for atheism is a red herring. Just as there as thoughtful atheists, there are thoughtful Christians, Muslims, or New Age advocates.
    Returning to the article, Scott’s claim that de-baptism is “not done with malice or intent to offend,” is absurd. If an organization chooses to profane a sacrament that is considered holy to many people, its leaders could at least own up to their motivations for ridiculing the beliefs of others. It goes without saying that this approach is easier and less rigorous than engaging in meaningful debate or–God forbid!–dialogue with those who do not share our perspectives.

  • nnmns

    Scott’s claim that de-baptism is “not done with malice or intent to offend,” is absurd. If an organization chooses to profane a sacrament that is considered holy to many people, its leaders could at least own up to their motivations for ridiculing the beliefs of others.

    That’s kind of self-centered. It may be holy to you but to them it apparently represents a load they want to get off their backs. A thing can offend the easily offended without being meant to do so. The answer is thicker skins all around.
    And anyway, why do they have to be so sensitive to your feelings in a private social gathering of like-minded people? If you folks were sensitive to our feelings you’d never ever put our kids in the position of being pressured to pray in public situations. Or us, for that matter though we’re adults and can, generally speaking, handle it one way or another.

  • Henrietta22

    dMaxwell, I understand what you said. Poster friend nnmns has explained that many times. I’m speaking to ex-Christians, and how I live and have lived my life. You are certainly welcome as far as I’m concerned to live as you wish. My belief in God does not make me dishonestly intelligent, however.

  • cknuck

    Old news and a crock if atheism is an intelligent choice why mimic baptism if the claims of most atheists were true then a simple walk away without ceremony would be the enlightened way. But nooooo; ha as religious as most.

  • http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=17144944&blogId=420868779 Jennifer Gray

    I’m the Jennifer Gray who is quoted at the beginning of the article. Just two minor nitpicks, which I’m sure are my fault because this was my first interview with a reporter and I was very nervous.
    Firstly, I should have used the term “cultural Christian” to describe myself before the Coming Out party in Westerville rather than “weak Christian.” I didn’t believe in the Christian God or in any of the supernatural elements of Christianity, but I was raised in a conservative Christian household and attended church with them off and on until about age 23. I did believe wholeheartedly when I was baptized at age 11, ….but I was 11 years old. At that age, I still believed that my dad was the smartest man in the entire world and that I would be a famous architect when I grew up!
    Secondly, the article makes it sound like I sought out the the de-baptism “ceremony” (in quotes because there was nothing serious or ceremonial about it) as a way to renounce my former faith. In reality, I attended the party to socialize with other non-believers. I didn’t even know they were doing a de-baptism until someone said, “Hey, wanna get de-baptized?” It was a very light-hearted, silly, fun time. I wasn’t trying to make a statement or take a “decisive step,” as the article says. It also wasn’t meant to be offensive in any way. I felt that we (both the participants and the observers) were making fun of our own former beliefs, the beliefs we held when we were baptized in the first place.
    All in all, though, this is a very positive article. If you’re interested in reading my first-hand account of the event, you can click on my name above.

  • http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=17144944&blogId=420868779 Jennifer Gray
  • David

    The real point is not the getting undipped itself but trying to correct the church statistics as to how many customers they have and thus the importance(?) of that particular outfit.

  • Karen Brown

    First, if it is a private gathering, then how can the intent be to hurt or offend?
    Secondly, people go through various rituals when they go from one belief system to another (which does not make atheism a belief system, but to demonstrate this does happen in religious traditions), which can include denouncing their previous beliefs. Does this mean they trying to profane the sacraments of those previous faiths?
    I would reckon intent, not action, is what makes a particular sacrament, well, sacred. It is what makes the difference between a baptism and a dip in a river. I wouldn’t think that it would be truly possible for something like that to be profaned (made non-sacred). Is your baptism somehow less effective because of what they did?
    Finally, Cknuck, its for FUN. Not a required ritual, nor do they think it actually /does/ anything. I always thought it was faith that marks a religion, not playing dress up. But if that’s your position, seems to weaken the role of religion, not slam at atheism.
    I know people who have parties for divorce, or give out pins to mark how long they have refrained from doing something. Doesn’t make divorce or AA a religion.
    Like most attempts to make ‘atheism is a religion’ arguments, it tends to trivialize Gods (turning them into anything you spend time doing or have any enthusiasm about, in the ‘everyone worships something’ argument), religion (any gathering of people holding the same opinion), and sacraments (which apparently remain so even when people are just playacting) in the process. But most ‘they do it too’ arguments rarely show the thing being ‘done too’ in very good light.
    How important is that argument for you?

  • Karen Brown

    And I would agree with David. Just ‘walking away’ keeps you on the tally. Myself, courtesy of looking into a few religions before finally quitting, am on the roster at more than one faith, which can claim bigger numbers by my presence.
    Lots of double dipping in the US when it comes to membership roles, because our country, (others possibly, but I KNOW it happens here) does a lot of church shopping, and lots of Churches don’t clear their roles of non-participants until they get something that says ‘take me off’, or a death certificate.

  • TheGlovner

    Typical reactions in the comments from people that don’t understand the beginings of this movement.
    Let me try and explain it slowly so all the usual nonsense can be stopped.
    This began in the UK where there is still state religion.
    Because it is a state religion it is awarded unfair tax advantages and powers to have a say in law and politics.
    The way in which the state religion justifies it’s position is by using baptismal records. By doing this and refusing to remove people from these baptismal records it is unfairly gaining perks by unjustly claiming the size of it’s group.
    So you could think of this more as a petition or sorts rather than an “anti ceremony” ceremony.
    Obviously as an atheist who was baptised when I was but a babe I personally have no problem just accepting that it was all complete ponce at the time and I don’t believe a word of it and that should be just fine. But when people carry out things using my name when I did not give it willingly that is a different story.
    Let me try and give an analogy that may put it in a relevant perspective for an American reader.
    Say your parents were free spirt hippy liberals. When you were born they signed you up to join the Liberal Party of their choice which you obviously has no say in since you were incapable of understanding or forming an argument due to your infancy. You then grew up rejected all their ideas as being liberal hippy nonsense and deicided that a good old republlican gun toting party was the way to go. At that point you find out that you can’t vote for your party becuase you were enrolled in the hippy liberal party when you were a child.
    How would you feel?

  • Eric the Green

    Where can I get in line for my De-Circumcision?

  • nnmns

    ” if the claims of most atheists were true then a simple walk away without ceremony would be the enlightened way”
    In fact I’m sure that’s pretty much what most do. And the claims of most atheists have never been successfully refuted.
    Jennifer, good for you! Welcome aboard. And post here any time you want, please. Same for the others.

  • nnmns

    Russian pupils to have choice of religion, ethics (AP). That pretty much says it all.

  • Henrietta22

    Jennifer thanks for your explanation, I took what you said in the article to mean what you explained here as a poster. At least what you said was printed. I was interviewed, and it just disappeared! ;)
    Glovner, your post makes sense to me.
    Eric-the-Green, if I hear of a De-circumsion crew I’ll tell you.

  • Karen Brown

    And about the ‘intellectual honesty’, I imagine they are talking personally. I could have faked believing what I did not in order to get along. It certainly would’ve been easier. To admit what I did not believe was, for ME, an issue of being intellectually honest. To be true to what I think, rather than what is expected of me.
    Just as if one person is ‘being faithful’, doesn’t mean others are not by acting differently. They are just being faithful to different things.

  • Karen Brown

    In other words, one person saying they were being intellectually honest does not mean others are not.

  • Your Name

    “Anybody who makes fun of baptism probably hasn’t gone into it in enough depth to know that”. Classic empty argument. Try these on for size to see.
    Anyone who makes fun of alien abduction…
    Anyone who makes fun of Scientology…
    Anyone who makes fun of Virgin Mary apparitions on tacos…
    Anyone who makes fun of Ranchero music…
    Anyone who does not appreciate the humor in the tv show Family Guy…

  • cknuck

    “In other words, one person saying they were being intellectually honest does not mean others are not.”
    and surely that could not be so.

  • nnmns

    cknuck do you really not see that two people can look at the same facts and, in good faith, reach very different conclusions?

  • Windsors Child

    “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” the Bible says. So one need not get “de-baptized” because if one chooses not to have faith in God, one’s “baptism” was an empty ritual anyway. Baptism is not the means of salvation many outside the Christian faith think it is. It is simply a public act declaring what one has committed to believing. True baptism is only for those old enough to make that decision for themselves. I am not offended by “de-baptism” since it is as meaningless as baptism apart from faith in Jesus Christ.

  • Windsors Child

    By the way, since atheists feel free to make fun of Christians and other religious people, why are they so offended by something like the Creation Museum which makes fun of no one but simply presents another way of looking at things? The reactions of non-believers to this museum are simply hilarious, if not pathetically narrow-minded.

  • Windsors Child

    do you really not see that two people can look at the same facts and, in good faith, reach very different conclusions? nnmns
    If you really believed that, nnmns, then you would not be so negative about the fact that not everyone agrees with your conclusions about evolution, abortion and homosexuality.

  • cknuck

    nnmns there is a difference in conclusions and facts. But atheist preachers take up a gauntlet against anything Christian especially. Most are too afraid to confront Islam, not very much concerned about Judaism in its current state, other religions have no concern for their gods are many and impotent but the cross offends and the thought of a Savior makes them irritated and even more the God of all creation makes their blood boil.
    There is a difference in conclusions and fact and we will feel passions for some of those differences but in the mean while how do we treat each other, that’s what is important. Wasting money and resources trying to force feed folk that homosexuality isw not a sin but acceptable in God’s sight is nothing but folly so much so that the forces of atheist join in on the distraction.

  • nnmns

    ” why are they so offended by something like the Creation Museum”
    I don’t know that many atheists are “offended” by it. But it’s a shame the CM helps mislead people like it does. As for evolution, abortion and homosexuality I’m concerned for the people who suffer because they can’t get the abortions they and their families need and the marriages that would make their lives better. And I’m concerned that some public schools are being forced to teach their children nonsense in order that some Christians whose beliefs are vulnerable to the facts of science don’t lose control over their children’s religious decisions.
    I think it’s always dangerous to teach nonsense and to let the ability to control one’s children’s religion trump teaching useful knowledge that helps people work and understand the world.
    On the other hand many things in religion, such as details of the trinity, seem unlikely to impact me and mine so I leave them to you who believe in them.
    I’m here pestering people about their beliefs because some of those beliefs have such bad effects on the public, on me and on my family and friends. Shooting fish in a barrel is only fun part of the time.

  • Carmine Wiggins

    Windsors Child seems to have made the assumption that evolution, abortion and homosexuality might have something to do with non-belief in a deity or something similar. What is ironic is that many so-called christians that I know actually believes in evolution, abortion and homosexuality.
    Evolution is undeniable, only the uneducated believe that this is not true. You might not recall this but many years ago thousands of people watched some ridiculous man on TV try to heal folks of injuries by touching them. Poppy-cock!! Many of us have evolved…still see this hog wash on TV though; reminds me of the dark ages. Church going friends know this is was a scare tactic back in the day when believing what your elders told you was the absolute truth…well we know what happened next…people got educated and learned that things are always what you see or hear at Uncle JoeBobs house.
    Another funny event on TV preaching shows are the ones where people are running around the stage and pews like chickens with their heads cut off. Someone told me they are possessed with the holy spirit. Well, let me tell ya something…if they were doing that at the local mall they would be arrested for disturbing the peace and probably escorted to the looney bin. Odd we don’t see this happening in our malls, guess the holy then thou spirit only works in churches…hmmmmm.
    Abortion and Homosexuality is a choice; not for everyone mind you, but a personal and private choice none the less. If you don’t like it fine, mind your own business.

  • cknuck

    CW if you are all so wise prove it, prove what you say is true and not just something you heard.

  • nnmns

    Why should the burden of proof be on her instead of on you, cknuck? And I think she went a long way toward doing so. We all know Christians who believe in evolution and support the right of abortion and marriage for homosexuals.
    And surely even you won’t deny that some strange and silly things happen on stage at one TV preacher show or another.

  • Windsors Child

    CW seems to have made the assumption that Christians who oppose abortion, homosexuality and the like are all uneducated dim wits who watch TV programs where clownish preachers try to heal people of gross diseases. She also seems to think that anyone who denies evolution is uneducated. The fact is there are many of us with college degrees (mine is from a state university in Michigan) who do deny evolution.
    Believing in a God of love, creation, and Heaven and Hell are choices. If you don’t like it, fine. Mind your own business.

  • Karen Brown

    Well, Cknuck, you have one of two choices. Since support for abortion still hovers around the 50 percent mark, either some Christians must still be Christian and be able to support it, or they aren’t even 50 percent of the population (since opposition to abortion does occur in groups outside of Christianity), and they have to lose the whole ‘we’re the majority, we should get our way on things’ bit.
    So, which is it?

  • cknuck

    nnmns and CW, prove that we because I am one of those Chistians who believe in faith healing or people being healed by God because of their faith and God created the heaven and earth and I support people’s right to praise the Lord in dance and in vocal expressions.
    So prove that I am wrong.
    Have you personally seen real evidence of large scale evolution? Not just bugs and flowers.
    Do you have proof that there is no God, I have proof that there is and of His healing hand.
    Why should people not praise God in dance, song and voice?

  • cknuck

    KB I have no idea what you want me to choose, I personally don’t support abortion and I have no control over what others do. Do you need to justify an abortion or something?

  • Karen Brown

    This has nothing to do with me, but with your assertion that Christians never support abortion, homosexuality and evolution. Yet at least two of these are supported by at least 50 percent of the population. Christianity is supposed to represent at least 80 percent of the population.
    Therefore, even if the entire 50 percent who are against those positions are Christians and not members of other groups, that’s still only 50 percent, leaving 30-35 percent unaccounted for. Either those 30-35 percent are NOT Christians, and Christians are not a majority, or it is possible for Christians to support positions that you do not. Simple math will not support both.

  • jess

    Carmine Wiggins said “Abortion and Homosexuality is a choice; not for everyone mind you, but a personal and private choice none the less. If you don’t like it fine, mind your own business.”
    Hmmm. So, why does every atheist attack Christianity? Why not Muslim or Hindu or Wiccans? Are Christians not supposed to have the same rights as every other human? Why is everyone so threatened by Christianity if it isn’t real? Why make fun of them? Why not just leave them alone? Could it be because there really is something to it? I think this should be pondered on.

  • nnmns

    I attack the dominant local forms of Christianity because they are dominant locally. If a form of Islam or Judaism were the dominant religion and were causing the kind of harm Christianity is here I’d be attacking it. And if you were around then you’d know I have attacked each of them at times.
    I can’t speak for my fellow atheists but I’d guess that is part of their reasoning, too. Also more of them are ex-Christians so have been more personally abused by having Christian beliefs pounded into them in the past than Islam or Judaism.
    I think if Islam were dominant we’d have bigger problems than with Christianity, but it would depend on what form of each. On average I think if Judaism were dominant we’d have fewer problems unless it were a rather fundamentalist form.

  • Che26m

    You actually don’t need to prove something doesn’t exist (i.e. God, gods, chupacabra); the burden of proof lies on those who say something does exist and want others to believe it. This is logic 101, simply meaning, if I say I just saw a purple people eater who loves me and wants me to be happy, and somebody else says I’m crazy, I can’t just say, “well unless you prove it doesn’t exist, then it does exist so there, hmph.”.
    There are also millions of Christians who believe that we evolved according to Darwinian evolution. Including the Catholic church. Evolution doesn’t automatically equal atheism. Evolution isn’t “just a theory”, it’s based on raw data and real facts. That’s why it’s so undisputed in science. It’s been tested, over and over and even the Pope says it’s real.

  • Che26m

    …also, saying one is an atheist is not a political statement, nor a partisan statement. It simply means that person doesn’t believe in any gods, the supernatural, superstitions, angels, fairies etc. It has no other bearing on what a person believes or doesn’t believe. They are free to believe what they think is the best way to get through life without religious dogma or strict and often contradictory archaic guidelines set by bronz age myths.
    So in effect there is no such thing as “atheism”. There do exist atheists, who are free from the bondage of superstitions like christianity which preach from their very books; moral relativism, murder, torture, rape, slavery, genocide, hatred etc.
    This is all in the Bible where the examples are numerous. This kind of thing should be constantly questioned, exposed for all it’s fallacies and at times attacked only when necessary and appropriate.

  • cknuck

    KB I have not asserted what Christians do or don’t do please get it right if you are going to put words in my mouth. I do assert that the Word of God is against both homosexuality and abortion, so I am.
    Che26m your statements are only that anyone that is in a relationship with God does not have to prove it that’s just silly. If I say that God healed me of a affliction that has not been treatable by doctors I have seen and God touch me and healed me. According to you then I have to go around and prove that to every doubting Thomas on the planet who feels entitled to proof of God. Once again silly, I can talk about it and people can choose to believe or not to believe, and there is nothing you or any other card carrying atheist can do about that.
    Evolution and Darwinism has been legislated into prominence, many scientist say that the burden of proof brought to the table is speculative and many don’t agree but they will lose their jobs if they speak up that’s censorship and you can hitch your pony to that post if you want but I won’t. By the way can you personally prove it or is it just what you heard?

  • gbrat

    Hey, all you “non-believers”…please update us on your thoughts (beliefs) when you are on your death-beds.
    God still loves you and so do I.

  • /b/

    Om nom nom nom! Hungry! Nom nom nom!

  • nnmns

    “I can talk about it and people can choose to believe or not to believe”
    I choose not to believe it without extensive documentation I trust. The idea of a god is so fantastic (as in unbelievable) that it would require whopping big proof. Not just the word of some believer.
    “Hey, all you “non-believers”…please update us on your thoughts (beliefs) when you are on your death-beds.”
    Well my father was a non-believer and died one. Likewise my mother. That’s two for two. And if I was near death and suddenly decided I wanted to believe in an eternity most people would spend getting roasted on a spit or perhaps bored out of their minds or maybe singing hosannahs to a god full of himself I hope and believe I’d have the sense to repress that.
    Now if you could promise me an eternity moving through space viewing the universe with old friends, able to assume a fit young body at times to share with a wife, that would be worth hoping for but it sounds like an eternity you’d get, if it existed, no matter what you believed.
    It’s pretty insulting to claim we’d abandon our nonfaith because of cowardice. But we’re tough enough to face the universe without a powerful imaginary friend so what the heck.

  • Karen Brown

    Pascal’s wager, the ‘no atheists in foxholes’ (or on deathbeds), or both? Cheap reasoning in either case. If on my deathbed, I don’t think I’ll be in any shape to visit you, even if I knew where you were, Gbrat.
    An Cknuck, you only need to go around proving that if you are using your healing as proof of God. I can say that Bigfoot fixed my front door, therefore there is a Bigfoot. You are just going to take my word on that? Anecdotal evidence (experience) without any other evidence only persuades the person who experienced it, and those who have faith.. in the person who claims to have had the experience.
    So your healing is very good evidence- for you. You should no more expect it to persuade anyone else unless you have some objective evidence it occurred, than I would expect you to just take some acquaintances I have on their word regarding their UFO abduction experiences.
    Of course, that only concerns anecdotal evidence. But it doesn’t get some kind of special pass because the experience was had a religious connotation, or because it was yours. Outside of those expectations, can you explain why we should just assume that happened, and people who saw Hindu statues producing milk, or New Agers who claim healing through the use of crystals, or aligning their chakras were not?

  • seathanaich

    Hi gbrat. Thanks for confirming that your religious belief is based upon your fear of death. As if we didn’t already know that.
    Make sure you burn a sacrifice to a few other gods before you die – after all, you wouldn’t want to place your bets just on old Yahweh, would you? From what I’ve read in the Bible, he’s no more likely to be real than Zeus, Thor, Isis, or any of the Mayan or Inca gods.
    De-baptism would be fun, and I’d join in, even though my parents never inflicted such silly rituals on me. And isn’t it humourous reading all those religionists in the article claiming that baptism isn’t meant as some sort of “magic”? Hitting a little too close to the nerve, I guess.

  • gbrat

    I am a neophyte…and I’ve never posted before…it seems that most of you are experts at this. (And mainstream erudite intellectuals…) I am more of a basic “fundamentalist” as someone termed me. It appears that when someone posts something, everyone wants to attack like a pack of wolves! Interesting…
    Oh, ye of little faith…
    I believe there is one, true God, because there is “order in the universe”…e.g. the sun comes up and the sun goes down, right on schedule, gravity works, etc… Who but GOD could do that?
    Evolution, sure it happens, but nothing comes from nothing…there had to be a “…in the beginning”…to the history of Creation.
    Some day, “every knee will bow…” Just trust!
    Attack! Attack!

  • Karen Brown

    If you are viewing addressing your points in a way that might suggest they do not agree as an ‘attack’, then perhaps you might not want to be on blogs and debate boards. Beliefnet has many religion-specific forums that are setup for people who agree with each other.
    You just disagreed with everything I said, and basically told me there’ll be a big ‘I told you so’ when I die. By your standards, this would mean you attacked me.
    Would you say that was true?

  • seathanaich

    Gbrat: “It appears that when someone posts something, everyone wants to attack like a pack of wolves! Interesting…”
    Oh, gbrat, you are such a martyr! So persecuted! Now, run along and cash in your brownie point with Yahweh/Jesus/Friendly Ghost, you are officially one step closer to Magic Death Cloud Land. A religionist acts all offended when people call his passive/aggressive bluff, and school him when he trots out tired, long-ago-debunked apologetics. Interesting . . .
    “Oh, ye of little faith…” Actually, your critics are all probably of “no faith”. Faith is an affliction. It’s blind obedience, the belief in things that are either unproven or have already been disproved. Far from being the virtue you’ve been brainwashed into thinking it is, it is the oldest form of social control the strong ever came up with to rule the weak. If this was intended as an insult, it’s actually a compliment. Freedom from faith is one of the things required for a person to be intellectually free.
    “Nothing comes from nothing”. That’s actually the claim that all magic-based religious creation myths make, but thanks for doing the usual religious 180 degree flip on that one. The Bearded Jewish Tribal Elder creator you subscribe to differs only in the details from all the Great Turtle – Great Raven – Sun God – Sky God versions that all primitive peoples came up with. Quaint, and an interesting insight into the primitive human imagination, but certainly not persuasive to any neutral observation.
    “Some day, “every knee will bow…” Just trust! Attack! Attack!”
    I’m sorry, remind me: are you an American Christian or Pakistani Talibanist? From what you have written I’m sure you can appreciate it’s sometimes hard to tell all the various god-believers apart when they all speak the same language.

  • gbrat

    Seat, thanks for making my point!
    And by the way, I am none of the “names” the recent posters “think” I am. Some of you talk about “gods”…well, there is only one TRUE GOD!
    I assumed you’d know that!

  • gbrat

    And “by the way” #2. Regarding my “religious beliefs being based on (my) fear of death.”
    Ha! After 32 years in the military, two wars, and at age 74, I hardly think I am afraid of dying! Far from it! I relish that day, in the meantime I am having an “abundantly filled life”…as promised by Jesus Christ. (Only believers may know what that means!)
    Thank you very much.

  • Your Name

    Hello gbrat. After 20 years in the infantry, I can play that game too. If you weren’t afraid of death you wouldn’t need your immortality mythology. And if you thought your afterlife existed, you wouldn’t cry at funerals.
    What “point” of yours did I make? Your debating skills are terrible, every point you make is shot down in flames.
    If you are a Christian, you have an inherited a tradition which has fought against every bit of knowledge that science has discovered. How humourous that you claim the sun goes up and down – your predecessors were willing to kill people who claimed otherwise, that the earth rotated and revolved around the sun. How humourous that you now claim for your god the same discoveries previous Christians were willing to kill people for proposing.
    What One True God ™? Are you a deist then, and not a theist Christian? Because Christianity necessitates believing in the Jewish tribal god Yahweh. This god is incompatible with Allah, or Vishnu, or Zeus, or Thor. This monster, the star of the Old Testament, is so blatantly fictional as to be laughable. Read the things he is supposed to have said and done, and tell me this creature literally exists, with all the fairy tales. Yahweh is the parochial creation of desert nomad patriarchs controlling their women and sons.
    If you don’t literally believe in that fraud, but claim some other force exists, you are a deist. If so, you have no need to proselytise, because you already know that religions are all man-made, and no mumbling, silly hats, or grovelling does anything. Indeed, if you are a deist, you also know that the afterlife people all wish for is not based upon anything more than, well, wishful thinking. Your god is reduced to a synonym for “the universe”. In which case, why not just call it “the universe”, and be done with the pretence?
    But I expect you are an amalgam of these two positions, cherry picking what you like because you fear death and just can’t let go of the immortality promise, to make your god just a little different than the guy beside you. And that is hardly “making your point”, since I doubt you agree with me that for every religionists there is a fictional god in their head they have invented.

  • cknuck

    Your Name It is because of relationship that a brave military person like gbrat desires the LORD, everybody needs Him but few come to desire His company. The only one that seems to fear death are people who hide behind their keyboard and post assaults in the cyberspace and have not seen a day in battle, real battle. These type of people try to tell others how to relate with God because of their own fears which are many. So go out and do something with your life other than critique the LORD and His followers. Having defended our country myself so that you can spout off nonsense I have a great appreciation for people like gbrat and I respect their right to freedom of religion.

  • Henrietta22

    If Cknuck says he was healed by God I believe he was. He doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. His faith in God is proof to him of why he was healed. The doctors went round and round with me when our daughter was in her last week of life because she and I were happy together. They thought I would just fall apart when she was surely going to die. My answer to them was we wait for the answer from God. When it happened Cher was singing on the TV across the room, and she and I were the last ones standing, a tear rolled down her cheek and it was over. I then cried and called my husband, and son in the motel they were at, and the nurse, the doctor had gone home long ago. Faith is nothing to put down. Every death is different, but I tell you people without my faith in God I wouldn’t be here. Cknuck and I don’t agree on our Christian interpretations, but we agree on God.

  • nnmns

    “I believe there is one, true God, because there is “order in the universe”…e.g. the sun comes up and the sun goes down, right on schedule, gravity works, etc… Who but GOD could do that?”
    Physics.
    As for believing in a god because of a personal experience, obviously that’s your right but it carries no water for me. I have no idea what’s going on in anyone else’s head or why; it’s a claim about a non-repeatable experiment.
    If there’s a god that wants to make its presence known there are oh so many big convincing things it could do. But we don’t even get the little things of the OT. As far as I’m concerned, no evidence means no god. Let alone your particular god.

  • Karen Brown

    Cknuck, once again, nobody here has tried to prevent anyone’s ‘freedom of religion’. Did you protect all the other freedoms too, or just that one? I was in the military too, and worked at a homeless shelter for 7 years, work now tutoring the disabled, and am currently working on joining the Peace Corps.
    I think I managed to ‘do something with my life’, thanks.

  • Henrietta22

    Your Name, bad example of why people cry at funerals. How many loved ones have you lost lately? They don’t cry because they don’t know where their loved ones spirit has gone to, and they are scared beyond words; they cry because of never being able to hold them in their arms and have them in their lives again.

  • cknuck

    H22 that was pleasant thank you very much.

  • cknuck

    KB people do try to prevent freedom of religion many times and also try to convince people it is constitutional what they are doing. I am happy for you that you were in the military and did your duty with that said surely you must know we defend everyone’s rights even those we might have personal disagreements with.

  • Karen Brown

    I, personally, don’t disagree with anyone’s rights. I might disagree with how they decide to act upon them, or practice them, but there’s no rights we have that I disagree about all of us, or particular groups of us having.
    I am able to be around people who believe what I do not, that they practice what I don’t agree with, and they say things I do not think is true, including telling me exactly why they think I am wrong too. And I don’t consider any of that to be infringing on my own rights.
    Of course, none of those rights include being comfortable, being right, or being agreed with, to never be offended, or upset. Always figured the true sign that a right is being upheld is when it is able to be practiced by those with whom I most vehemently disagree.

  • gbrat

    Your name:
    I cry at funerals because I love and will miss the deceased…it has nothing to do with the afterlife.
    And “science” is what God created…waiting for mankind to discover. (Not physics.)
    And if you want labels, then I am a theist Christian. We believers do not get wrapped up in labels. It is not required or necessary. The God of the Jews is the same God of Christians. Whether this God is compatible (common) with Allah, etc., only God knows. (I’ll let God work that out. My opinion is personal.) God is revealed to all mankind through The Holy Bible. My God is the New Testament God of the Bible…plain and simple.
    Life is full of choices. I choose Jesus Christ. To each his/her own belief system. Mine is one of faith, not of science. The fact that we discover something (through science, or otherwise) does not alter my faith! My experiences are unique and apply only to me.
    I didn’t realize this message board was a “debate spectacle.” With some exceptions, it sounds more like a “professional anti-Christian” club. But, unless I’m wrong, isn’t this a Christian forum web site? Then why are atheists and agnostics cruising here……….unless they are subconsciously searching for an answer to change their hearts (in this case, their minds) away from their bitterness. Or they could be consciously lurking around these web sites foolishly thinking they could take one believer’s faith and beliefs away. It ain’t gonna happen!
    Thanks for the discussion.

  • Karen Brown

    That was your first misapprehension. This is NOT a ‘Christian Website’. This is a site about a wide variety of topics, which center around a very diverse group of beliefs and philosophies. That is why it is called ‘Belief’ and not ‘Christianity’ net. If you were to go into the forums, you would find everything from Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, various Pagan religions, Maltheism and yes, Agnosticism and Atheism.
    This a site for discussion and debate about those topics. Therefore, everyone has an equal ‘right’ to be here, and inferences about other people’s motives online is considered to be a pretty cheap tactic. Rather like saying that a person is in denial.

  • gbrat

    KB,
    Sort of like you just did! Ha! I understand, thanks for clarifying my mistake.

  • Karen Brown

    I never claimed you were in denial. I said you were wrong. That’s different, and a bit more provable than the first.
    I said it would be a cheap shot to do so. Its an improvable, but also an unanswerable claim. How do I prove that I don’t have the motive you assigned me? It becomes a ‘No I don’t’ ‘Yes you do’ kind of thing, which would get pretty silly pretty quickly.
    Hard to prove you’re not in denial by, well, denying it. *laugh*
    Like the ‘bitterness’ charge. If I don’t address it, it stands unchallenged. Given a person can’t tell tone from text, if I give the slightest sense that I so much as emotionally responded to the charge (and how would you feel if someone said your position meant you were bitter? Do you have to be bitter to find that a wee bit offensive?), then they can say, “See, I said you were angry and bitter!”
    Makes it seem like a mean and manipulative thing to do. I’m sure that wasn’t your intent, and you were (hopefully) just expressing what your beliefs seem to say regarding anyone in my group. Oddly, only when it comes to religious beliefs are generalizations about entire groups of people allowable without it being seen as, well, prejudice.
    Unless, of course, you secretly actually know the atheist posters and are speaking from experience to know they are bitter?

  • cknuck

    gbrat don’t be discouraged there are Christians that come here too although it seems to be frequented by atheist and certain so-called Christians who dispute the bible there is room for you too. I know a old war vet that always say in latin, “don’t let the bastards wear you down.” He’s a funny old curmudgeon who is a war hero who served his country well, loves the LORD, he makes a good point.

  • Bill Kilpatrick

    It’s funny how everybody takes everything so personally. Regardless of which side you’re on, in terms of religion, each side sees itself as the persecuted one. Religious people think the secular world is out to deprive them of their faith. Atheists and agnostics think that religious people are trying to shove that faith down their throat. A healthier world would be one where each is free to adopt, pursue and even change their own convictions without the fear of having it used against them.
    There’s a great joke, about the troubles in Ireland, where a man comes to a checkpoint and is asked about his religious affilation. “Catholic or Protestant?” he’s asked. When he replies, “Atheist,” there’s a momentary pause, then, “Catholic Atheist or Protestant Atheist?”

  • Henrietta22

    Right on joke, BK. My family and I have never had a problem with being a blend of secular and our Christian beliefs. Some on this board who are Christian, think we shouldn’t think differently than they do. It gets interesting around here and you’ll LOL if you visit often.

  • pagansister

    WOW! That small act of “de-baptism” opened the flood gates! I too was not only baptized, but “joined the church (Methodist) at the ripe old age of 10…like I had any clue what I was doing. At 17 or 18 I realized that what I was being taught by my very loving parents, was not for me. Worshiping some invisible being who knows all and to top it off, created the entire world etc., and the proof being a book that was written many,many years after the really cruel death of it’s founder, to push an agenda, made no sense either. Thus no more Methodist for me. Having said all that…my life without that being has been and continues to be wonderful. My respect for my family members who are devout, is unlimited. No family strife due to my “pagan ways”. I hold no disrespect for Christianity or other religions. However I disagree with much of their teachings…and “rules”.
    If the opportunity arose to be “de-baptised” I might do it just for fun, but not as disrespect for the act having been done to me (as a baby) by my loving parents. They are both gone now, but they knew my beliefs before they died…and accepted them as best as they could.

  • Your Name

    I’m not surprised at the poor quaility of the responses to the comment on crying at funerals – which is not a “bad example” – that are written here. It’s a question which makes religionists squirm because it’s unanswerable, and undeniable. Pretending a few years matter if you really think you are immortal is indefensible. If religionists can’t even believe their own immortality myths, why should anyone else take them seriously?
    Cknuck, it is arrogant and ignorant to assume that everyone on the internet is your countryman. Bravo for you defending your country. I’ve defended mine too – but you’d know that if you read my post. Forming an opinion without actually reading something is indicative of a personality which seeks confirmation bias rather than forms opinions based upon evidence or reality, so your being religious is probably more a function of your personality than any other factor.
    “We believers do not get wrapped up in labels”. That’s a joke, right?
    Gbrat, your assumption that those who don’t share your beliefs must be “bitter” is representative of the hatred that religion both teaches and condones. Are Jews and blacks all “bitter” too? Or j is that sort of prejudice still only allowed against atheists, in your world?
    If science comes from Mighty Yahweh, why do so many of his disciples hate it so much? Why are they so willing to kill those who prefer it to superstition, including others who profess to worship the same god?

  • seathanaich

    This site has an annoying feature – it removes your name if you have to refresh the magic code at the bottom. I’m not intentionally trying to be anonymous!

  • http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/06/robert-bumbaloughs-deconversion-story.html Robert Bumbalough

    De-baptism: what a great idea. Since all religions are intrinsically false, yet use esoteric symbolism and ritual to implant their false propositions into the minds of unthinking acolytes, it is apropos to use a similar ritual to cement in a commitment to rationality as the only means of acquiring knowledge. I’ll ask the good folks at my local atheist or Objectivist club to officiate at my own de-baptism. Thanks for posting an interesting article.

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