March 30, 2009 | 6:35 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Last summer, American atheists had a coming-out party in Westerville, Ohio—coincidentally the home of the Religion Newswriters Association. The event included the de-baptism of those wanted to publicly renounce the faith of their childhood. And it looks like the practice is becoming a trend. More of the same from the land of Richard Dawkins:
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.
Child abuse ... give me a break. I understand the concept behind a de-baptism. In the same way that baptism for Christians is a public declaration that their life will now, in theory, be fully committed to God, de-baptisms state just the opposite. But claiming that it’s abuse to baptize a child, which is a common Christian practice though not one that I support, is ridiculous and it trivializes the trauma of true abuse.
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