debaptismLiberate yourself from the Original Mumbo-Jumbo that liberated you from the Original Sin you never had!

Is the header being used by the National Secular Society (NSS) on its website selling ‘official’ De-Baptism certificates. For a while, the NSS has been asking the Church of England (and no doubt the Catholic Church too) to devise a formal procedure for cancelling baptisms, subsequently making a change in any baptismal roll as part of it. In the face of resistance, the NSS has come up with a document of its own.

The “Certificate of Debaptism” is designed to have a deliberately ‘home-made look complete with mock-official decoration and quasi-official language’. It reads:

I ________ having been subjected to the Rite of Christian Baptism in infancy (before reaching an age of consent), hereby publicly revoke any implications of that Rite and renounce the Church that carried it out. In the name of human reason, I reject all its Creeds and all other such superstition in particular, the perfidious belief that any baby needs to be cleansed by Baptism of alleged ORIGINAL SIN, and the evil power of supposed demons. I wish to be excluded henceforth from enhanced claims of church membership numbers based on past baptismal statistics used, for example, for the purpose of securing legislative privilege.

The NSS president, Terry Sanderson, says the certificates are not designed to be taken too seriously. Despite this, the NSS claim that copies have been downloaded more than 60,000 times. Given that each certificate costs £3, basic mathematics suggests that the initiative has provided the NSS with revenue in excess of £180,000. Not bad for something that Society publicly state that ‘should not to be taken too seriously’.

What is interesting however is that whilst the certificate states that de-baptism requires the complete rejection of  all ‘… Creeds and all other such superstition in particular, the perfidious belief that any baby needs to be cleansed by Baptism of alleged ORIGINAL SIN, and the evil power of supposed demons’, the NSS are obviously quite happy and content to make vast sums of money on the back of these nonsensical allegations and ‘supposed demons’.

Isn’t that as cynical as the religious institutions that those such as the NSS present themselves as being the antithesis of? Aren’t they exploiting their members and supporters by getting them to reject something that they already believe is irrelevant and un-necessary: something that – for them at least – goes against human rationale?

What it seems to suggest is that those who oppose religion – the NSS, the humanists, the British Humanist Association, atheists per se, and the followers of the cult of Richard Dawkins – are increasingly replicating the very things they vociferously suggest they hate about organised religion and its associated institutions.

Take for instance the British Humanist Associations’s response to ‘God bothering’ bus posters. Despite allegedly hating them, they go and replicate them albeit with a slightly different message. Similarly, in response to baptism and the baptismal certificates given after the ceremony, the NSS devise a de-baptismal certificate that is remarkably similar to the thing they too allegedly dislike.

Of course both are hilarious (said with tongue firmly placed in cheek) but why?

If, as the NSS add at the bottom of their de-baptism webpage:

…the concept of baptism is a complete fantasy that has no meaning outside the heads of the religious…

…why are they even bothering acknowledging that the ceremony – and more importantly the intentions of the ceremony – have any relevance or meaning to their supporters whatsoever?

Could it merely be that the non-religious organisations are ripping off their non-religious followers? Ask them and of course the answer will be ‘no’. As the NSS somewhat pathetically argue, their certificates are ‘satirical’. But scratch the surface and there really isn’t a lot of difference.

Maybe the non-religious have realised the error of their ways and as the old adage goes, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’.

Creative Commons License

This work by Chris Allen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Based on a work at www.chris-allen.co.uk.

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2 thoughts on “If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them: De-Baptism Certificates and the National Secular Society

  1. “the NSS claim that copies have been downloaded more than 60,000 times. Given that each certificate costs £3, basic mathematics suggests that the initiative has provided the NSS with revenue in excess of £180,000.”

    Thing is, the NSS claim no such thing. What they actually say is that the old (free) version was downloaded 100,000 times. They now have a posher version which you can buy, but the only claim about that was that by the end of March they’d sold 1500 of them (see: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090330/ts_afp/lifestylebritainreligionatheismfeature).

    Unfortunately the two numbers have been conflated by inaccurate subsequent reporting, such as yours.

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