Occasionally, I find myself agreeing with atheists in some of their tiffs with Christian culture. More often than not, I do so, as a Christian, because I believe the atheists' request will benefit both sides. This is exactly the case in England as some atheists are working to "de-baptize" people who were baptized as infants but are now unbelievers.
John Hunt was baptised in the parish church of St Jude with St
Aidan in Thornton Heath in south-east London. But 50 years later he
stands outside and regards its brick facade without much affection.
Mr Hunt was then sent to Sunday school in west London and later to
confirmation classes, but he decided early on that he had no place in
what he felt was a hypocritical organisation.
Now Mr Hunt has become the pioneer in a rejuvenated campaign
for a way of cancelling baptisms given to children too young to decide
for themselves whether they wanted this formal initiation into
However, baptism is proving a difficult thing to undo.
The local Anglican diocese, Southwark, refused to amend the
baptismal roll as Mr Hunt had wanted, on the grounds that it was a
This is my problem with infant baptism in general. Hunt, obviously, is not a believer and has never been. Why should he have to go through such issues in order to remove his name from a church roll to which he never belonged?
The National Secular Society devised de-baptism certificates for those who want to "formally" reject their childhood expression of their parent's beliefs.
The Church wonders aloud why, if atheists and secularists believe baptism is so meaningless, they are letting it upset them.
Mr Hunt supplies his own answer.
"Evangelical noises are getting louder and louder.
"The recent change in European legislation has led to religious
beliefs not being challenged at all, and there's no limit at all on
what anybody can claim as a valid religious belief.
"I think it's important that more people speak out and say they don't subscribe to the historic beliefs of the Church."
While I will disagree with Hunt on a significant amount of things, I agree with his sentiment here. It is ridiculous that there is "no limit at all on what anybody can claim as a valid religious belief." There is truth and it is not subjective. It is not as valid to claim that God asks you to love your neighbor and claim that God commands you to kill your neighbor.
I would argue, however, that the historic beliefs of the Church is not infant baptism. That may be the historic belief of the Church of England or the Catholic Church, but that is not the same as the Church in general.
But I hope Hunt and his allies are able to see some type of resolution in their favor. Little do they know it, but it would make the Church in England (but maybe not the Church of England) a lot stronger and more focused.