A new badge of honor has been introduced for Atheists in the United Kingdom and it is called "debaptism". The National Secular Society
is leading the charge to get debaptism recognized and registered in churches across the UK
After becoming the "Word of the Week" on the Macmillan English Dictionary
website, the National Secular Society says that over 100,000 people have downloaded a debaptism certificate
from their website.
John Hunt is a 50-year-old Brit who was baptized by the Church of England (Anglican/Episcopalian). He wanted his baptism cancelled because he views the church as a "hypocritical organisation.
" However, as the Bishop of Croydon, the Right Reverend Nick Baines, recently told the BBC
You can't remove from the record something that actually happened. Whether we agree whether it should have happened or not is a different matter. But it's a bit like trying to expunge Trotsky from the photos. Mr Hunt was baptised and that's a matter of public record.
This particular diocese has suggested that those who want to renounce their baptism could run an advertisement it in the London Gazette, and then the Bishop will have those notices inserted into the baptismal roll. However, the Church of England was quick to note that this is not an official policy.
The Church of England has no reason from its point of view for maintaining a formal record of those who have renounced their baptism: it is content simply to accept that those who have explicitly repudiated their baptism and take no part in the life of the Church should not be regarded as members of it in the more general sense.
The Catholic Church
, however, is willing to insert a note into an individual's baptismal records stating their wishes to leave the church.
As a person cannot be unbaptised or their entry deleted, the practice within the Diocese of Westminster has been to advise anyone who wishes to leave the Church to write to their place of baptism, where a note can be made to this effect within the margins of the register. The actual entry cannot be altered, but the information can be added to the margin alongside the baptismal entry and so it is formally noted. The priest of the parish can then respond informing the person this has been duly done.
I'll leave you with the final words of John Hunt's debaptism: "I reject all its creeds and other such superstitions, in particular the perfidious belief that any baby needs to be cleansed of original sin....