Here I begin to list just a fraction of the cases in which children have been hurt or killed by parents who trusted God to do all the healing.
Any child of a Jehovah’s Witness who died from blood loss. (Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the blood to be holy, and refuse blood transfusions.)
My own uncle, who died of treatable intestinal problems when I was 3 or so years old, because his parents raised him as a Christian Scientist. He was in high school at the time. (Christian Scientists, followers of Mary Baker Eddy, refuse all medical treatment, usually.) I have no memories of my uncle. I just know how hurt my father was by his brother’s death, and by his father’s refusal to hold a funeral (it’s not the CS way).
This 11-year-old-girl who died from juvenile diabetes, whose parents trusted prayer to heal her.
A lot of you know that Pope “Palpatine” Benedict “led Vatican investigations into abuse for four years before assuming the papacy in 2005.” You may know that he makes a habit of [p2p type=”slug” value=”pope-benedict-xvi-more-closely-tied-with-sex-abuse” text=”not addressing these issues”]. Pretty incredible, considering the intentional cover-ups and reassignments of acting pedophile priests that are revealed constantly. But now he is pretending to be unaware of abuses that occurred in his homeland, Germany.
“Nonsense,” said Father Doyle, who has served as an expert witness in sexual abuse lawsuits. “Pope Benedict is a micromanager. He’s the old style. Anything like that would necessarily have been brought to his attention. Tell the vicar general to find a better line. What he’s trying to do, obviously, is protect the pope.”
Absolutely disgusting, the callous insensitivity the evil Catholic Pope has.
If you haven’t seen the documentary Deliver Us From Evil Goons, do so. It makes the abuses of the Catholic leadership personal, as it documents, in particular, the effects paedophile priests have had on one family.
The Ryan Report found the Catholic Church and Irish government covered up almost four decades of sexual abuse and beatings by priests and nuns on thousands of children in State care. And the Murphy Report unveiled a catalogue of cover-ups by the Catholic hierarchy in Dublin to protect the Church. But in a Vatican statement, the Pope specifically failed to acknowledge the cover-up or formally apologise for the abuse. The Pope also failed to sack under-fire Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan – or even formally accept the resignations of other bishops, who were criticised in the Murphy Report for their mishandling of cases of sexual abuse. We understand no bishop or higher-ranking Catholic prelate has ever been laicised (sacked) for active or administrative misconduct over child abuse.
Ratzinger also ignored the failure of the Papal Nuncio to co-operate with the Murphy Commission’s investigation into abuse in Dublin.
[The] Pope had told the bishops the sexual abuse of children and young people was not only a heinous crime, but also a “grave sin that offends God and wounds the dignity of the human person created in his image”.
The … Pope had also told bishops that the “weakening of faith” was a significant contributing factor in the phenomenon of the sexual abuse of minors.
Maeve Lewis, of support group One in Four, said the Pope’s response was inadequate. “It is deeply insulting to survivors to suggest they were abused due to failures of faith, rather than because sex offending priests were moved from parish to parish, and those in authority looked away while further children were sexually abused,” she said.
Update: See also [p2p type=”tag” value=”pope-benedict-xvi-more-closely-tied-with-sex-abuse”]
A number of atheists and agnostics have opted for de-baptism, a symbolic event meant to formally renounce their usually non-voluntary baptism and conversion into a religion. Apparently this practice, which often includes a blow-dryer labeled “Reason,” is popular in America, Italy, Britain), and increasingly so in Ireland.
Read on to find out the purposes of such a ceremony.
Is de-baptism ironic?
Some observers, like The Young Turks, below, note the irony of “atheist rituals.” Is it ironic? The definition of irony is something that is incongruous or contradictory. (Alternatively, irony can be defined as something with two or more meanings, known to different people; in this case, the atheists know there is no transcendent or spiritual meaning to baptism or de-baptism, but believers put value on such customs.)
Atheist de-baptisms would indeed be a contradiction, if it weren’t for the following:
Atheists do not believe there is a metaphysical or eternal effect of baptism or de-baptism. This is the only element of irony, and atheists’ awareness of it (even calling de-baptisms “a bit of a joke” and a “mock ceremony”) ensures no genuine contradiction is made.
Unlike most churches, atheism (which is, of course, not an organization or authority in any sense) requires baptism of no one.
Atheists would not de-baptize infants or young children.
There are positive social effects of de-baptism, which we will discuss below.
Some individuals value the event as a symbolic renunciation of dogma they were taught earlier in life.
Because the reasons and beliefs surrounding de-baptism do not contradict the atheist’s rejection of theism and revealed mysticism, it’s unfair to ridicule de-baptism.
Reasons to be de-baptised
De-baptisms are not for everyone. Those who do opt for one do so for a number of reasons.
One motivation is to commit a formal act of apostasy, or the rejection of a religious belief. This decreases the number of people on churches’ official rosters, as these churches often use these numbers for political clout. (Of course, not even all active members agree with Church teachings.) In Ireland almost all public schools are actually run by the Catholic church, partially on the grounds that most Irish are Catholic; the formal apostasy of de-baptism is seen as a way to decrease this theocratic power. I expect this to become even more common now, in the wake of the Ryan Report on clerical abuse and after the absurdly backward anti-blasphemy law was passed.
The second common reason is personal or symbolic meaning. One of the de-baptized, Jennifer Gray, called her experience “very therapeutic.” In a sense, a comparison could be made to New Year’s Resolutions, a custom that has absolutely no mystical meaning, but which can nonetheless be a decisive step and a statement of intention.
Lastly, some (such as myself) may view the ceremony as an assertion of children’s rights. Why, they ask, should parents be able to decide what a child will believe? (Not all religions practice infant baptism, so this doesn’t always apply.)
Is baptism irreversible?
Some churchesrefuse to take the de-baptized off their rosters, claiming that baptism lasts forever in the eyes of God and/or the Church. I call baloney. Should God exist, He could keep His records just fine without a mortally run organization helping him out by artificially swelling their numbers.
While Christians are free to believe that baptism is permanent, common sense and modern Western law suggests that, on paper and in practice, no one can be forced to remain a part of a group to which they do not wish to belong. That’s what cults do.1 That is almost the definition of slavery.
The way that these same churches welcome converts from other religions, even if such converts were baptized into another religion. (As if they would refuse. Those collection plates don’t fill themselves!) If baptism lasted forever, church-hoppers could end up being permanent members of multiple faiths. How absurd would that be? (Yes, a lot of churches see other denominations’ baptisms as equivalent to their own, but the point stands: the convert has left a church.)
To summarize: Dogma is within the church’s domain, but the roster should be composed entirely of those who wish to be on it.
What about those who want to be removed from church records, but are denied the right to do so by their church? Is there hope? Barring legal action, there may be! Since churches generally allow conversions between denominations, a possible loophole may be able to switch to a less retentive church, inform the old church and request to be expunged, and then get that new church to remove them from the roster. Sounds like a lot of effort, but it may be worth it as a last resort.
Personal attitude toward de-baptism
Before I heard that other atheists enjoyed de-baptism, I had hoped to experience one someday. While others I expressed this wish to could not see any reason to it — after all, if I believed baptism had no meaning, what need had I for de-baptism? — I wanted to undergo it for more practical reasons. I wanted to make a statement about children’s rights, to formally end my relationship with the Church, and to show myself and others I was serious about my atheism.
Unlike the accounts I have linked to here, I did not envision my de-baptism taking place with a blow-dryer. I hoped to honor the legacy of Douglas Adams and use a towel.
General tips: I couldn’t find a definitive resource for those looking to officially leave churches, but in most cases a letter to the Bishop stating your intent to commit apostasy, like Irish Catholic one above, should suffice. Consider sending your letter via registered mail or with delivery confirmation.
Photo credits: Baptism used with implicit permission
Update: If you live in the Phoenix or Chicago area and have been de-baptized, please contact me.
Using this as a definition of cults, Scientology and Christian Science easily qualify, as do Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, as do fundamentalists like Pat Robertson who advocate not speaking to family members who left the church. (Yes, I am aware there is precious little difference between cults and religions.) ↩