Up until last summer, Jennifer Gray of Columbus, Ohio, considered herself “a weak Christian” whose baptism at age 11 in a Kentucky church came to mean less and less to her as she gradually lost faith in God.
Then the 32-year-old medical transcriptionist took a decisive step, one that previously hadn’t been available. She got “de-baptized.”
In a type of mock ceremony that’s now been performed in at least four states, a robed “priest” used a hairdryer marked “reason” in an apparent bid to blow away the waters of baptism once and for all. Several dozen participants then fed on a “de-sacrament” (crackers with peanut butter) and received certificates assuring they had “freely renounced a previous mistake, and accepted Reason over Superstition.”
[…] Within the past year, “de-baptism” ceremonies have attracted as many as 250 participants at atheist conventions in Ohio, Texas, Florida and Georgia. More have taken place on college campuses in recent years, according to Hemant Mehta, chair of the board of directors for the Secular Student Alliance, a group that promotes atheism among high school and college students.
Hey, remember when one of the benefits of not following a religion was being spared that religion’s rituals? What’s next, Sunday atheist mass?
I might as well go back to the Church. At least there’s wine and music.
The “rituals” are more satire and political demonstration than anything. The mockery of religious sacraments reminds me of PZ Meyers desecration of the Eucharist awhile back, but this is a little more complex:
Some of the so-called “de-baptized” have used their certificates to petition churches to remove their names from baptismal rolls. One argument: they were baptized without their consent as children and should now be declared de-baptized. Some churches, however, aren’t budging on what they regard as an irreversible sacrament.
I can understand why some atheists would find this cathartic.
They don’t seem to take it altogether seriously, but I still find it creepy, and sense that it says something about the lack of confidence these people have in their atheism.
I can’t think of a single time that I have mocked religion with malice – with the specific intent to offend someone. However, I recognize that the very nature of the subject matter that many will be offended. For that matter, my very presence for many believers is already offensive to them.
With or without malice, I am never worried about offending people because as I told Mr. MacDonald, “you’re going to offend somebody. There’s just no way around that.”
A good symbol also requires no label, unlike the atheist hairdryer labeled “Reason”. The symbol for “Reason” should be obvious and powerful enough that it requires no label. But there is no clear connection between a hairdryer and “Reason”. Someone who labels things is more of a sloppy editorial cartoonist than a powerful image maker. Isn’t that one reason we hated those 70s felt banners?
Leaving that aside, what does a hairdryer do? It blows hot air. Umm, on second thought maybe they picked a revealing symbol for atheism after all.
UPDATE: James Joyner