Get De-Baptized; Leave the Church January 11, 2011

Get De-Baptized; Leave the Church

In Brussels, Belgium, de-baptisms are becoming more popular. And, when you think about it, why wouldn’t they be?

“When you don’t agree with an organisation that you never chose to join in the first place, the healthiest thing to do is to leave,” [de-baptized] Damien Spleeters told AFP.

It is, and it worries the Catholic Church.

That’s why they make it so hard to leave. If it was easy to leave, their “official” membership would drop precipitously.

In practise, de-baptism consists in writing to the church where the christening took place. The name is not actually struck off but noted on the baptismal registry, meaning that those who decide to leave cannot be married in the church or expect a Catholic funeral.

Not a big loss… there are better alternatives for reasonable people.

But it makes a nice statement to say that you “officially” have nothing to do with the Catholic Church. You don’t support the child raping (or their handling of it), you don’t support their misguided theology, you don’t support their methods of indoctrination, you don’t support their superstitious rituals, and you don’t support them financially. You want nothing to do with them altogether.

Of course, you could say all that without getting de-baptized. But going through the symbolic motion gets attention and lets people know that leaving the Church is not only an option, but an important one at that.

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  • “When you don’t agree with an organisation that you never chose to join in the first place, the healthiest thing to do is to leave”

    I’m in the process of de-baptism right now.
    I have to say, honestly, that there was a time in which I adhered to the Catholic Church, but it was an effect of the indoctrination of the church and the cultural environment in which I grew up.

    It would be nice if the affiliation to the Church were limited in time, say, every year you have to be confirmed to be considered a believer.
    Ok, forget about that: it would be a perfect world, and religion wouldn’t be part of it in the first place! 🙂

  • On the flip side, I don’t know where I was christened, and writing that church to ask them to take me off their list of church members is validating the existence of the list of church members.

  • Anna

    This is more important in Europe where churches get public funds based on their number of adherants. So if you don’t want your taxes going to support an institution you no longer have anything to do with, it’s a good thing to de-baptize yourself. In the US, it wouldn’t matter since we have the separation of church and state. But the Catholic Church is politically influential and bloats it’s numbers by including people who no longer attend church or are unaffiliated. If you want to be discounted by the church here you would have to be excommunicated and it seems the only way to do that involves abortion.

  • @ Anna

    If you want to be discounted by the church here you would have to be excommunicated…

    My understanding is that an excommunicated Catholic is still counted as a Catholic…they just can’t partake of the sacraments. This may be the case for de-baptism too…once a Catholic always a Catholic.

  • My understanding is that an excommunicated Catholic is still counted as a Catholic

    Sure. The baptism is an historical act that cannot be denied, obviously, and an “eternal sacrament” that cannot be canceled, for the Church. The de-baptism doesn’t revoke the baptism.
    It’s just a formal act to reject the affiliation to the Church.
    In Italy the pope and the clergy claim to speak for 98% of the population, and they interfere in the political life for this reason.

    Anyway, the excommunication take place “Latae sententiae“, automatically when you commit apostasy.
    After the de-baptism you receive a letter in which you are notified of the effect of your decision: that is not, however, a real and official papal excommunication.

  • Javier

    The Catholic Church stopped allowing people to voluntarily leave in April 2010 by changing its rules:

    How are the Belgians getting around this?

  • Yes, excommunication is supposedly meant to drive you to contrition so that you can be a fully-fledged member of the Church again. Basically they extort you by withholding sacraments until you confess and do penance. Not something that will affect non-believers wishing to exit, really.

    This has inspired me to finally get off my duff and send the letter to my local parish opting out of Catholicism. I’m kind of hoping the local priest tries to convince me to stay, so I can post it all on my blog and we can have a laugh.

  • Don’t forget that you can have this done for you at We have been helping people for over a year now and have debaptized everyone from kids who were baptized without parental consent to Jesus himself.

    You even get a free certificate ready for printing!

  • Gregory Marshall

    Since I put no validity into my baptism, I see no need to de-baptize myself.

  • El Bastardo

    You can’t defect from the church anymore, I’ve tried.

    though they do send you a nice letter telling you that Ratzi is coming up with a wonderful solution and why don’t you drop by for a cup of tea and a chat.

  • Scott-K

    I would have to differentiate between formal apostasy and debaptism. Formal apostasy is a way of telling the church you want nothing more to do with them. I did it in May of 2009, and it felt good…

    Most of the “debaptisms” I’ve heard of involve a blowdryer, and seem kind of silly.

  • Thegoodman

    I was baptized at an Episcopal church, is it possible to officially leave the Episcopal church?

  • Methodissed

    I tried getting de-baptized from the Methodist Church. They told me that they have no mechanism to remove me from their records or to modify my record.

    So, some dope dripped water on my head when I was an infant and I’m a church member for life.

  • Drew M.

    I’ve always wondered if this would work:

    1. Make a financial gift to Planned Parenthood.
    2. Write your Archdiocese and let them know you helped fund abortions. Include the tax-deductible receipt from your donation.
    3. Giddily wait for a letter from the bishop stating, ‘I excommunicate you ferendae sententiae from the Catholic Church.”

    Any thoughts?

  • Hugo (Belgian)

    I de-baptized and indeed got a letter that I could not undo the baptism but that a note was made.
    It is not because the church gets funding based on baptism numbers, in Belgium this is not the case. I did it to send a message and for my own conscience.
    Church funding in Belgium is historical and every year more and more voices are talking about changing this, the catholic church gets 97% of all the “faith and life stance” funding, the other 3% is divided under the humanists and other (recognised) faiths.
    The priests/bishops… (and the few humanists and other faiths that the 3% can pay) in Belgium are are paid as civil servants or teachers (with pension and all), catholic schools get more public funding than state schools and there are more of them, catholic hospitals get state funding and there are more of them than state hospitals; it is quite a strange situation because we do have separation of church and state and catholic schools are considered quite good and do teach “good” sex ed, science… (I never attended but friends and my kids do), catholic hospitals are the best by a long run and they do perform abortions, IVF (IMF), vasectomies and give information and provide about contraception, very rarely (I’ve only heard about it once) is there any opposition to all this by church leaders (I wish they were more vocal ’cause it would expedite the state’s reforms and would cause even more people to leave)

  • Nordog

    It would be nice if the affiliation to the Church were limited in time, say, every year you have to be confirmed to be considered a believer.

    Yeah, in a way that’s done each year at the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which was two days ago.

  • eszett

    In Germany it’s quite easy. You are automatically a member of a church in the eyes of the taxman and they deduct a certain percentage of your income for the church.

    Talk about separation of church and state!

    But it has an upside as well.

    You have a very tangible financial interest to get out of the church and it’s rather easy. A written note to the IRD and it’s done. It was the first thing I did before I got my first job. Got de-baptised a long time ago.

    Germans are very efficient bureaucrats. 🙂

  • With all this talk of de-baptisms throughout Europe I wonder if a plea could be made by a non-profit organization to have its members removed from the official government count of members of the Catholic Church? It would be interesting to see hundreds of thousands to millions of people registering with one of these organizations to be “not counted” Catholic, reducing the funding for the church! I’d do it in a heartbeat if I thought it might count for something.

  • Phil Walters

    This is wonderful. It gives me more impetus to do the de-baptism ceremony that our SSA organization “Legion of Logic” at Northwest Arkansas Community College that we’ve been planning.

    I also wonder if the Eastern Orthodox Church would de-baptize me. I’m still in their records like many people are with the Catholic Church.

  • Kris

    I’m thinking about trying to officially get out of the Mormon church but it’s a serious PITA. You have to have interviews with multiple people, they have to confer, they are supposed to question you to make sure that you haven’t done anything worthy of excommunication because if so, they have to go through that process instead of the voluntary process. I’m not sure if the hassle is worth it at this point in my life. Unfortunately, until I do, I have people from the church trying to call or visit me about once a month trying to bring me back to the fold.

  • Her

    Sounds like a great idea to me. Being a former Catholic, I think this is definitely something I should do. Putting it on my to-do list right now.

  • You have to have

    no, you don’t. you just shut the door on them anytime they show up and never go back to one of their public rituals. and forget about all the woo they “taught” you. let it go. you’ll find that… life goes on. just the same, but without woo. and guilt and shame and all that other crap that they use as mind control. gawd will not smite you, really.

  • Sarah

    My baptism mean nothing to me. I don’t remember it thus it is not important.

  • If the issue is one of state or national recognition of the religion then I would suggest writing to your MP or representative and telling them that you don’t wish to have your name associated with the Catholic church. They do not speak for you.

  • Derek

    I converted to Catholicism for purely romantic reasons and did so in hopes of finding another common ground for my girlfriend, who I am now marrying and who has also defected from the Church. I, like someone mentioned above, see no true validity in my baptism as I never took it seriously to begin with. However, the notion of leaving the church or making a statement to not be affiliated with it intrigues me.

  • ButchKitties

    For me, going through the (now unavailable) process of actus formalis defectionis was less about undoing the baptism itself and more about telling my local archbishop just how badly the RCC has morally failed the community – that the RCC had become so evil that I couldn’t tolerate even a nominal relationship with it. I did it on the heels of the archbishop publicly admitting that one of his priests was a child rapist, and then low-balling the victim’s settlement so much that the poor guy won’t even have all of his therapy expenses covered. I was more than a little salty when I wrote out my request.

    I also asked for a sacra rotum tribunal to have my baptism annulled, on the logic that if a sacrament of marriage, which is only undertaken by adults, can be annulled then surely a sacrament performed on unconsenting babies can also be annulled. Again, the request wasn’t a serious attempt to undo what I think is a meaningless ceremony. It was meant to point out the absurdity of thinking that baptism does have permanent meaning, and to point out the Church’s inability to be logically consistent within its own beliefs.

    Now that I know the Church has done away with formal defection, I’m even gladder that I did it. Looks like the message that formal defectors were trying to send got through.

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