Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Physician Heal Thyself

You've got to hand it to those jolly souls at the National Secular Society who are flogging the notion of 'de-baptism' and a 'de-baptism' certificate to go with it. The certificate, they suggest, in true comedic form, should be displayed in the 'hallway (porch, loo, lean-to, etc.) as an outward sign of the inner rationality that inspires your being'. Their website exhorts the baptised: 'Liberate yourself from the Original Mumbo-Jumbo that liberated you from the Original Sin you never had!' Given that, according to the NSS, 'the concept of baptism is a complete fantasy that has no meaning outside the heads of the religious', its members seem to be peculiarly exercised by it. Followers are urged to make their 'de-baptism' official by insisting that their names be removed from baptismal registers and church records which, if the letters to the website are to be believed, involves going to extraordinary lengths to achieve. According to Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society:

'They simply don’t want to be part of the statistics that are used by the churches to demand more privileges. They don’t want to have any formal connection with institutions that they perceive to be counterproductive to peace, harmony and common sense.'

But, the attempt to undo historical records has an Orwellian ring which makes Sanderson's commitment to 'common sense' look a bit shaky. His fondness for 'peace' and 'harmony' looks equally loosely based given his opinion expressed elsewhere on the site:

'The growing amount of interest in the concept of de-baptism indicates that people are not just indifferent to religion – which has been the traditional British approach – but are actually becoming quite hostile to it.'

Perhaps someone should point out to Sanderson that the 'traditional British approach' is one of tolerance. Sanderson clearly relishes the growing hostility that he and other secularists are promoting towards the religious, and the claim that this is all intended as 'irreverent' and 'lighthearted fun' sits uneasily with Sanderson's unmistakable intentions. But then secularists and atheists seem to have a predilection for this way of proceeding: on the one hand proudly proclaiming themselves as the very epitome of reasonable and rational behaviour while all the time excoriating, insulting, and openly encouraging animosity towards those who they accuse of failing to make full use of their reason, simply because they don't reach the same conclusions as they do. But then I expect it would infuriate secularists to be taken to task for failing to abide by the maxim: physician heal thyself.

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