Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Getting "De-Baptized"

For those who grow up in a Christian denomination that practices infant baptism, you more than likely were not asked if you wanted to be baptized. Most likely what happened was your parents or guardians arranged for you to be baptized and you were informed about it later when you were old enough to at least comprehend what happened. That is what happened with me. I can't recall when, but at some point I was aware that I had been baptized.

But what if you decided that you not only rejected the church of your forefathers, but you also rejected the baptism you received and wanted it removed? Could you be "de-baptized"? That is just what is happening in France. NPR ran a story recently about an elderly man who was baptized in the French Roman Catholic Church has requested to be "un-baptized." A judges has ruled in his favor and the church has appealed. They do not think it is possible.

"One can't be de-baptized," says Rev. Robert Kaslyn, dean of the School of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America.
Kaslyn says baptism changes one permanently before the church and God."One could refuse the grace offered by God, the grace offered by the sacrament, refuse to participate," he says, "but we would believe the individual has still been marked for God through the sacrament, and that individual at any point could return to the church."
French law states that citizens have the right to leave organizations if they wish. Loup Desmond, who has followed the case for the French Catholic newspaper La Croix, says he thinks it could set a legal precedent and open the way for more demands for de-baptism.
"If the justice confirms that the name Rene LeBouvier has to disappear from the books, if it is confirmed, it can be a kind of jurisprudence in France," he says.
Up to now, observers say the de-baptism trend has been marginal, but it's growing. In neighboring Belgium, the Brussels Federation of Friends of Secular Morality reports that 2,000 people asked to be de-baptized in 2010. The newspaper Le Monde estimated that about 1,000 French people a year ask to have their baptisms annulled.

What do you think? Can you be "de-baptized" or should he just be happy to walk away form the church?

You can read the whole story and listen to the piece here.

HT: Targuman


  1. If baptism, as I understand it, is an outward action, or sign, that reveals an inward conviction or identity, then yes. De-baptism would be a similar action. This would beg the question, though, what if the person changes their mind and wants to identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus at some future time. Should they be baptized?

  2. He needs to start a new organization that unbaptizes people. Maybe they can run people through some kind of huge blow dryer?

  3. What we have done, and what has been done to us, is part and parcel of who we have become. I can quit the church (or the Rotary Club or whatever) but I cannot change those parts of me that have been changed because I once was a member. We can start 'un-baptizing' people as soon as vegetarians can 'un-eat' the meat they consumed in their earlier, carnivorous, lives.

  4. If a person feels so strongly that a baptism must be removed, then by their very request they are demonstrating their belief that their baptism has marked them or had an effect on them in some way. If they considered it a mere symbol or false act made by their parents, it might not be a big deal to them and would not be an issue. The desire to be un-baptized has, in one way, re-emphasized the importance of baptism as a rite of the church, the meaning and importance of which may vary slightly depending on the church. How do those who's tradition is to baptize adults feel about un-baptizing?