Freethought Today · Vol. 28 No. 3 April 2011

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Suitable for framing: FFRF’s DeBaptismal Certificate

Still smarting over having been dunked in a church baptismal tub at age 12? Indignant that a congregation stills claims you as a believer based on baptismal records? Wishing you could formally renounce a religion that was imposed on you as a helpless babe in swaddling clothes?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has the answer: a genuine “DeBaptismal Certificate.”

FFRF is issuing an attractive, frameable certificate on parchment paper, complete with a gold seal embossed with FFRF’s name, which is personally and ironically affirmed by ex-reverend Dan Barker, FFRF co-president. Dan, who is the author of Godless, The Good Atheist and Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist, still technically bears the stain of ordination.

The certificate bears the tongue-in-cheek saying of 19th century freethinker Robert G. Ingersoll: “With soap, baptism is a good thing.”

The certificate reads:

“I, having been subjected to a Christian baptism before reaching an age of consent, or having submitted to baptism before embracing freethought and reason, hereby officially renounce that primitive rite and the Church that imposed it. I categorically reject the creeds, dogmas, and superstitions of my former religion, particularly the pernicious doctrines of ‘Original Sin’ and damnation.

“I further denounce as an affront and defamation to humanity the false and demeaning belief that any baby is born with ‘Original Sin’ and must be cleansed of it by baptism. From this day forward, I wish to be excluded from any claims of religious affiliation or membership based on baptismal records.”

There’s room for the debaptized’s name, signature and date of debaptism “in the Year of No Lord.” The motto at the bottom reads, “Freedom depends upon freethinkers.”

“With a majority of Foundation members growing up in religious homes,” noted Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president, “we know there are a lot of freethinkers out there who wish they could be debaptized.” Annie Laurie, by the way, is one of the lucky 18% of FFRF members who grew up in a freethinking home and was spared baptism by water, fire or Sunday school.

“Although our DeBaptismal Certificate has some light touches, we think it’s time to spur some serious public debate over the meaning of baptism,” Gaylor added. “We would like to remind the public that people have been killed, schisms fostered and ‘holy’ wars sparked over debates on when to baptize and how to ‘sprinkle’ babies. Childhoods and peace of mind are still being blighted today by ignorant and vicious sermons promising  hell and damnation as a punishment for not being baptized.

“It should be utterly repugnant to people of conscience to tarnish newborns with the idea of ‘original sin’ or to subject any child or young person to this primitive ritual.”

Two original embossed frameable copies on parchment  signed by Dan Barker may be ordered online at  ffrf.org/shop/. Or send $5 to FFRF, Attn: DeBaptism, Box 750, Madison WI 53701. After the minimum order of two for $5, additional copies going to the same address are $2 apiece.

FFRF is also making a free version of its certificate downloadable via the Internet. Go to ffrf.org/shop/debaptism for a color copy (minus embossed seal and Dan’s signature.).

Be the first on your block to frame a “DeBaptism Certificate!”

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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