"With soap, baptism is a good thing." Robert Green Ingersoll
When I was born in Philadelphia in 1938 to Irish-Catholic parents, baptism was not a choice - it was as much a part of getting started as cutting the umbilical cord and being burped. As an adult, however, I was a decade removed from my entry culture, a staunchly secular and a well-educated father who had no use for, interest in or tolerance for the old customs.
However, even though I thought the ritual was silly if not crazy, when my first child was born, I went along with the desires of my parents for the baptism of their first grandchild, as well as my wife's wishes given that her parents (as well as mine) viewed the baptismal rite as an absolute necessity, as consequential as feeding, clothing, changing, sheltering and loving our sweet little infant daughter. Their religion, passed down from their parents and their parent’s parents through generations, had inculcated the "sanctity" of this ritual at a deeply emotional level.
I understand their attachment: They were taught that if a child were to die without having been baptized by a robed priest of the only authentic creed (Roman Catholicism), the babe would be consigned by God to a place called "Limbo." Limbo was better than hell (no fires) but nowhere near as cool as heaven. If you are not Catholic or, like me, an ex-Catholic, this Limbo idea must seem really weird. Trust me - it's weirder than you think. An online American Heritage dictionary describes Limbo as "a place where souls remain that cannot enter heaven." What souls would that be? Why un-baptized infants, naturally. The dictionary contains this clarification: "Limbo in Roman Catholic theology is located on the border of Hell."
Well, if there is a hell, I'm certain the lunatics who foisted this nonsense on an ignorant populace in the middle ages are roasting there, along with the charlatans who came up with the idea of baptism itself.
When the time came to baptize my daughter, I did initially resist. It seemed unprincipled to go along with this egregious nonsense, however much the older folks wanted it. For a while after the fact, I wondered if I did the right thing by caving in to the loving mob. I rationalized the incident as something that made my wife, my parents and my in-laws happy and avoid strife and grief. Besides, I suspect that someone in the family would have done what Christians did with Jewish babies in Europe for centuries, namely, clandescently baptize the child without my knowledge or consent. So, maybe I did the right thing, after all. Since everything about religion is BS as far as I'm concerned, maybe it's best to just laugh the long-past incident off and think of it no more.
Well, maybe not. Why continue to consent to any practice that seems primitive, irrational and grotesque? After all, consider what baptism represents: That an infant must be cleansed of a stain the church calls "original" sin - and only the baptism ritual can do the trick. Imagine that - a newborn already requiring forgiveness from God. "What is the babe's offense?" you ask? Being human, I suppose. The new human is held partly responsible for a creationist character that ate an apple that a snake advertised - thousands of years ago. (Someone please cue the theme music of "The Twilight Zone.")
Well, it's not too late for me or my daughter and millions of others who were caught up in this craziness. There is a remedy. We can all have ourselves "Debaptized!" What began in England when more than 100,000 Britons downloaded "certificates of de-baptism" (created by the National Secular Society - NSS) has been adopted by the Madison, WI Freedom from Religion Foundation.
You can order two original embossed frameable copies on parchment signed by Dan Barker online for $5 or print copies available at the FFRF website free of charge. Just sign it, have it witnessed and Voila - you are free of mumbo-jumbo. You are de-baptized.
Check it out and be well.
Donald B. Ardell is the Well Infidel. He favors evidence over faith, reason over revelation and meaning and purpose over spirituality. His enthusiasm for reason, exuberance and liberty are reflected in his books (14), newsletter (573 editions of a weekly report) and lectures across North America and a dozen other countries. Write Don at email@example.com