Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I've long been of the opinion that the ritual of infant baptism as practiced by many mainstream Christian denominations is essentially pointless from a spiritual and magical perspective. My reasoning? If we assume that the Christian concept of salvation is based on spiritual realization, we must also take into account the basic truth that nobody else can do spiritual work for us. The problem with infant baptism is quite simply that while participating in a religious ritual led by another person can help speed one's spiritual progress, an infant really has no idea what is going on. Some babies just cry through the whole thing and find the water used unpleasant, which seems to me as about as far from a genuine spiritual awakening as I can imagine.

While baptism does serve a social function, it seems to me that people could get their socialization in clubs or organizations that are not religious in nature. This strikes me as a better state of affairs on the grounds that it would ensure that human politics and spiritual realization do not become conflated with each other. I'll add that this is not limited to churches, and the same point could be made about many magical orders and societies. There's a reason that when Aleister Crowley first put together his plan for A.'.A.'. he forbade socialization among its members. He had seen firsthand what political struggle had done to the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and had played a significant part in it himself acting as Mathers' representative in London during the "revolt of the Adepts."

Several new websites are now offering "de-baptism" certificates for those who wish to formally leave their Christian Churches. While requesting a certificate from a website is at least as pointless as an infant baptism ritual from a spiritual perspective, its political significance cannot be overlooked.

The idea of getting "de-baptized"-- or having your name officially deleted from the baptismal registry-- is relatively new, but one which the Catholic Church is beginning to take seriously, and with grave concern.

The movement may have begun just a decade ago when Terry Sanderson, head of the National Secular Society in Britain, posted an unofficial "de-baptism certificate" on the society's website, mostly as a joke. To date it has been downloaded at least 100,000 times.

"It was a joke to begin with, but now it has taken on a new significance because there are so many people who are anxious to leave the church that they are actually taking it seriously now, and they want some way to make their break with the church formal," Sanderson told VOA. "Often the church won't acknowledge their desire to leave."

Many disenfranchised ex-parishioners have begun to take it a step further, seeking official, legal acknowledgement for de-baptism. For instance, 71-year-old Frenchman Rene Lebouvier recently filed a lawsuit against the church after his initial request to have his name crossed off the church's baptismal registry was denied. Last October, a lower court in Normandy ruled in his favor, making him the first man to be officially de-baptized, though a local bishop has filed an appeal.

The very existence of de-baptism demonstrates the extent to which people have become angry with the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of ongoing scandals and the continued embrace of political positions very much at odds with those of the modern world. It remains to be seen if the current surge in de-baptisms represents a trend, or if it is simply the latest Internet craze that will fade as quickly as it emerged.

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Agata said...

"...we must also take into account the basic truth that nobody else can do spiritual work for us." ha! That is so their point. I think if you want something done right...

OSSRD said...

The outward sign of the sacrament of baptism is the ritual bathing or sprinkling of water. Through baptism we are initiated by water into the community of believers, an outward sign of the inward reality of our divine spark.
Baptism is pre-Christian, being a symbol of initiation and learning dating back perhaps to the cults of Oannes in Sumeria and even to the Vedic cultures of the Indus Valley. It is a tradition that has served to let us grasp on to our own spirituality and consciousness as a member of our community. The concept of St. John the Baptist and his predecessors represents an epic battle against ignorance. They were givers of wisdom, and the knowledge of our ancestors, a human link to a spiritual heritage. But the matter and the reality of baptism itself (res sacramenti), affirms not only the work of exploring and learning for one’s own enlightenment, but as a member of that community, a pledge to learn to foster human development.

magickal_realism said...

I guess this makes sense for adult baptisms. In my Christian upbringing, a baptism represented a promise made by parents and community, not one made by the child. Now due confirmation...that's what I asked for.

Hypnovatos said...

I always took the Baptism more as a form of Mikveh, the Jewish ritual bath needed to cleans you of your sin/impurity. the idea of doing this for an infant/child is to give them a clean slate spiritually. Why would a newborn need cleansing? I am sure Catholics/Orthodox would say Original Sin. Im of belief of reincarnation so i would say a cleansing of past transgressions.
I also believe that baptisms carry an initiation part to play in the sense that it connects the individual spiritually to everyone else of the same connection. I think someone needs to nurture that connection or else it dies, hence the need in Christianity for going to church, confessions, confirmation, marriage in the church, etc. If someone does not stay up on their connection, i fail to see the need to sever a connection which is already spiritually dead. If ones lack of faith and lack of follow up isnt enough to sever the connection, i fail to see how a piece of paper word :p If someone doesnt believe in the spiritual connection, than the desire to disconnect so bad that they need to sue is likely deep seated in other issues and requires some serious internal digging ;)