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De-baptism: A Case of Ignorance

The very concept of de-baptism reveals a crisis in Christian education
by Thomas A. Flynn, LC | Source:

With the number of people requesting a de-baptism certificate rising into the thousands, atheist die-hards have launched a crusade claiming that Christianity is slipping into a membership decline. The only thing the sad reality of de-baptism really shows, however, is that its advocates weren’t paying much attention to Sunday school lessons: the very concept of de-baptism reveals an almost complete ignorance about what baptism really is.

Baptism is not like registering for the “Book of the Month” club. It is not something one signs up for on a whim and there are no trial memberships. No, baptism is a once in a lifetime event. It is a sacrament of the highest importance because it makes us children of God and destines us for heaven. If you don’t believe me, take the words of Jesus, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn 3:5-6).

This sacrament leaves an indelible mark on our soul that lasts forever.  It is a sign that means we belong to God and He in turn adopts us as his own children. We are set aside from the rest for we are able to call God our Father. Any certificate of de-baptism, no matter how many seals, stamps or signatures you put on it, is worth less than monopoly money.

Yet there must be some good reason why people are requesting to undue the undoable. Non-practicing Christians who seek to make their breach official might be tempted to swing away at the root of their faith. Though I admire their coherence, I must forewarn them that little will be gained by this act of rebellion.  In the end, they still remain Christians.

Others protest that they were baptized against their own will by their parents. This could be true, but they were also taught a particular language, fed regularly, and clothed properly by their parents, all done without their consent. Any parent who holds their faith as the greatest of treasures will not hesitate to bestow the same gift upon their child as soon as possible.

This brings us back to the beginning.  We are not witnessing a crisis of Christian membership but a crisis of Christian education. The responsibility to help anyone on the wayward path back towards Christ lies on our shoulders. It would be easy to point the blame for the education crisis solely on catechism programs that are far from perfect, but the truth is that we all are responsible for living as true Christians and spreading the faith with our example. The first Christian communities were recognized by the way they loved one another.

Before someone tries to jump the Christian ship, they should be invited to take a closer look into the faith they so easily wish to dispose of. Hopefully when they do turn around they will find an example of true Christianity and fraternal charity.

Br Thomas Flynn, of the Legionaries of Christ, studies for the priesthood in Rome.



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