TOP story in this week’s Church of England newspaper concerns a sudden surge ofÂ Brits choosing to debaptise themselves.
In one week alone, the paper reported via its Religious Intelligence site, that 1,500 Brits paid for debaptism certificates provided by the National Secular Society.
The NSS has offered the certificate on its website for five years – and more than 100,000 people have downloaded it.Â But when it introduced a new parchment copy for Â£3, the demand suddenly escalated.
The NSS asked the Anglican Church if they will follow the Catholic example and provide an official procedure for undoing baptism, but the Church is refusing to recognise a need for the procedure.
A letter from the Church’s legal adviser Stephen Slack to NSS president Terry Sanderson said:
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 Church insists that it only collects data on attendance, the number of those who have been baptised in the Church of England in the year in question; and the number of people whose names are entered on the electoral rolls maintained by its parishes.
However, a recent investigation by The Times revealed that the number of Anglicans baptised in England was used by the Wakeham Commission in reform of the House of Lords.
The 26 Lords Spiritual could now have their position undermined as the number of people being debaptised grows.
Sanderson has been “astonished” by the popularity of the certificate. He said:
It could have political repercussions – if a sufficient number of people became involved. I can’t see that happening though. It mainly shows that the resurgence of religion that we’re seeing at the moment is unsettling a lot of people.
It’s always in the background, everybody has still got that residual echo of religion in their heads even if they rejected it intellectually.
The certificate was designed by former NSS President Barbara Smoker, a former Catholic who once considered becoming a nun.
Sanderson says the popularity of the certificate demonstrates the need for the sacramental.
The certificate declares:
After due consideration, 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.