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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Catholic Church will record debaptism on records, but CofE won’t

The Catholic Church in England and Wales has confirmed that it will note a resignation from the Church in the margins of a baptismal certificate. The Church of England, however, will not.

In response to an enquiry from the NSS, Brenda Roberts, the Vice-Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Westminster, wrote: “As a person cannot be unbaptised or their entry deleted, the practice within the Diocese of Westminster has been to advise anyone who wishes to leave the Church to write to their place of baptism, where a note can be made to this effect within the margins of the register. The actual entry cannot be altered, but the information can be added to the margin alongside the baptismal entry and so it is formally noted. The priest of the parish can then respond informing the person this has been duly done.”

The Church of England, on the other hand, was dismissive of the idea that baptismal records could be amended or added to. In reply to a request from the NSS, Stephen Slack wrote from Lambeth Palace saying: “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 CofE letter went on to say “In any event, the Church does not collect data on, or make claims about, its membership in that sense by reference to baptism.”

However, Ruth Gledhill, religion correspondent of the Times discovered that, in fact, the CofE does make claims about baptismal numbers and gains privileges as a result. Read her recent blog.

Our ‘debaptism certificate’ came into the news last week when the BBC carried a story about one of our member’s efforts to get debaptised. The story quickly spread – see NSS speaks out, below.

We have now had the certificate professionally printed on good quality paper to make it into a souvenir. Get yours here.


20 March 2009

Debaptise Yourself

Published Fri, 20 Mar 2009