Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Mass Debaptisms by Secular Britons: A Sign of Things to Come?

With recent events and the spotlight focusing on bad economies and yes, the Pope's visit to Africa, Pope's continued rants against condom use has not only riled the scientific fraternity from the Lancet, secular folks have become incensed with the kind of bullshit being peddled about by the folks from the Vatican.

For all the good that has come out of this predictable publicity stunts, secular folks have bandied together and come up with something which I'd consider an odd novelty of sorts: A de-baptism certificate!!!

100,000 Secular Britons Seek "De-Baptism"

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.

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.

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.

Why Child Baptism?

As a former Christian myself, I was never baptized in Church: I was somewhat reticent about it; I remembered some of my Sunday School mates being baptized at an early age, probably 8 or 9, but a majority of them had parents who were either very regular and pious church goers or had parents who were pastors of the church. My overtly overbearing Christian aunt did not seem to press the issue, even though she did ask me a couple of times. In that sense, I consider myself to be lucky, since I don't have to spend a couple more bucks to de-baptize my sorry, backsliding ass!

Bad jokes aside, I always thought, even when I was a pious Christian, that child baptism is as weird as they come: Submerging children, or worst, babies, into water, and uttering some mumbo jumbos: What good does that do to a child or baby who hasn't even mustered enough intelligence to mutter a few garbled words?

While the charge of child abuse also seems to be one of frivolity, one has to understand that submerging a baby into water, albeit for a few seconds, may result in asphyxiation or drowning. This, however, applies mainly to submersion baptisms. Sprinkling of "holy" water over a baby's head is generally harmless enough, although I wonder if it is a safe bet to have a priest come within such proximity to a child, if you know what I mean.

While I do view most baptisms with ambivalence, I am most inclined to think that adults should not encroach and shove religions down the throats of kids who really should be left alone to their own devices: Sure, kids will have their fairy tales and cute little bunnies, but at least they aren't half as scary as the God of the Old Testament! Hell, even Freddie from Elm Street isn't half as scary!

De-baptism: A Sign of Things to Come???

Hot on the heels of Atheist Bus Ads, we now have a new spate of de-baptism certificates designed to cater to disgruntled folks who are more than a little livid about their early Christian lives, something which is not of their own choosing.

The more salient point, however, may be this: Atheists are no longer contented with remaining in the closets anymore, and religious leaders are beginning to realize that people are getting more and more disenfranchised with their myopic worldviews which have negative impacts to humanity at large.

-" is a telling fact that, the world over, the vast majority of children follow the religion of their parents rather than any of the other available religions."

Richard Dawkins