Correction: A commenter has pointed out that I made an error in assigning the bus campaign to the NSS in my first paragraph. The campaign was actually conceived by Ariane Sherine and funded by the British Humanist Association. My apologies for any confusion that may have caused.
After reading discussions at theoldadam about people who “reject” their baptism as infants, I never expected to see something quite so literal in that vein. Turns out that the geniuses at the National Secular Society in Britain who came up with the forceful campaign that proclaimed, “there probably is no God,” have now thought of the idea of a “debaptism” certificate for those who wish to formally reject their baptism.
This is as dumb an idea as any other they have ever come up with and I wanted to give it a special place on this day. I am endlessly amused at the lengths to which those who claim to either not believe in God or not know what god to believe in will go to to distance themselves from something they don’t believe exists. If that sentence sounds confusing, well you get the point. I don’t believe in Santa Claus, but I know plenty of people who do and it doesn’t bother me in the least. I can even watch television shows about Santa Claus and movies and see him in the mall and I am not offended in the slightest. But atheists and other non-believers get their whole lives in a snit over someone else’s beliefs in something they consider to be non-existent.
Because, deep down they aren’t that sure that they are right. How can they be? Did you notice the brilliant campaign slogan of this group in Britain? They said, “there probably is no god.” It is the probably that haunts them. The evidence is all around. Paul said that God is evident from His creation to any who see it. One of the authors, speakers and writers that I truly enjoy is Ray Comfort. He has a way of saying things that make you stop in your tracks to think. His latest book, You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think, is generating more frustration from the atheist crowd than ever before. They call it simple and ignorant, but the problem is that they cannot dismiss the “simple claims” as patently false except by wishful thinking. I am reading through C.S. Lewis’ classic, Mere Christianity, for a class that I am taking. The simplicity of the basic foundation he lays out for a Law of Nature that all understand to exist is profound and easy to understand. But the implications of it for all who hope that God “probably” isn’t real is devastating.
But I digress. What is it that the “debaptism” folks hope to accomplish? According to the article, they want to “punish the church” with this:
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.
“The Catholic Church is so politically active at the moment that I think that is where the hostility is coming from,” said Sanderson. “In Catholic countries there is a very strong feeling of wanting to punish the church by leaving it.”
In Britain, where government figures say nearly 72 percent of the population list themselves as Christian, Sanderson feels this “hostility” is fueling the de-baptism movement.
There may be something to this. Just a week or so ago, I wrote a post about the Pope’s statements about condoms that generated a cryptic response from a reader who said I made him “sad to call himself a Christian.” There was no explanation why this was the case. Just an open-ended statement of disappointment.
What else is at work in this movement? Apparently, consider their baptism meaningless because they did give any assent to it and had no decision in it:
“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.
I know that my Lutheran friends are going to decry this entire attitude and I don’t blame them. I just wonder if this fits into the realm of “rejecting” the promises that God gave them in their baptism from a Lutheran point of view. And another fun question for my Lutheran friends (Steve, you can invite Larry to opine on this for me if you want), does a person who formally rejects his baptism in such a manner need to be rebaptized?
Somehow this topic seems appropriately “foolish” for a day like today. What do you think? Can someone be “debaptized”?