Thursday, April 23, 2009

Show From: April 17, 2009

De-Baptism Gains a Following in Britain

More than 100,000 former Christians have downloaded "certificates of de-baptism" in a bid to publicly renounce the faith, according to the London-based National Secular Society (NSS).

Terry Sanderson, the society's president, says the group started the online de-baptism initiative five years ago to mock the practice of baptizing infants too young to consent to religious rites. Their web site invites visitors to "Liberate yourself from the Original Mumbo-Jumbo that liberated you from the Original Sin you never had" and allows them to print out a paper certificate that uses quasi-formal language to "reject baptism's creeds and other such superstitions." But in recent months, as tens of thousands began to download the certificate, organizers realized that they had struck a chord with atheists and once-devout church members who are leaving churches they see as increasingly out-of-tune with modern life.

The campaign has become so popular — with nearly 1,000 certificates downloaded each week — that the NSS has started taking orders for certificates printed on parchment, at $4.50 each; they've sold nearly 2,000 in just three weeks. "Every time the Pope says something outrageous we get another rush on the certificate,"

In October last year, Italy's Union of Rationalist Atheist and Agnostics sponsored the country's first-ever "De-baptism Day," when the no-longer faithful attended protests and passed out de-baptism forms to areligious people who didn't have internet connections to download them. More recently, on March 2, atheists and feminists in Argentina teamed up to launch the "Not in my Name" Internet campaign which encourages Roman Catholics to notify their local bishops of their desire to officially leave the church. So far more than 1,800 have joined their Facebook group or signed the petition on their website

According to Argentine campaigner Ariel Bellino, a former Catholic: "The church counts all those who've been baptized as Catholic and lobbies for legislation based on that number, so we're trying to convey the importance of people expressing they no longer belong to the church."

Given that God takes on different forms for different people, the NSS has been approached by non-believers are far away as Australia, Romania and Saudi Arabia requesting certificates tailored to their former faith. "We've had Jewish people write in asking, 'Can I have a certificate to undo my bar mitzvah?'" says Sanderson. And while the group is considering those requests, there's at least one recurring query they're certain they can't undo, symbolically or otherwise: "How can I get myself uncircumcised?"


Jesus Missing From Obama's Georgetown Speech

Amidst all of the American flags and presidential seals, there was something missing when President Barack Obama gave an economic speech at Georgetown University this week -- Jesus.

The White House asked Georgetown to cover a monogram symbolizing Jesus' name in Gaston Hall, which Obama used for his speech, according to

The gold "IHS" monogram inscribed on a pediment in the hall was covered over by a piece of black-painted plywood, and remained covered over the next day.
While the "IHS" directly behind where Obama spoke was covered over, said the monogram was still visible in 26 other places in the hall during his speech. Those areas just weren't as prominent.

Catholic University spokesman Victor Nakas felt a bit more strongly on the subject:
"I can’t imagine, as the bishops’ university and the national university of the Catholic Church, that we would ever cover up our religious art or signage for any reason," Mr. Nakas wrote. "Our Catholic faith is integral to our identity as an institution of higher education."


Crucified nun dies in 'exorcism'

Members of the convent in north-east Romania claim Maricica Irina Cornici was possessed and that the crucifixion had been part of an exorcism ritual.

Cornici was found dead on the cross on Wednesday after fellow nuns called an ambulance, according to police.

Police say the 23-year-old nun, who was denied food and drink throughout her ordeal, had been tied and chained to the cross and a towel pushed into her mouth to smother any sounds.

Father Daniel who is accused of orchestrating the crime is said to be unrepentant.
"God has performed a miracle for her, finally Irina is delivered from evil,"


Force is strong for Jedi police

Strathclyde Police said the officers and two of its civilian staff claimed to follow the faith, which features in the Star Wars movies.

A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police confirmed: "At the time of the request, 10 (eight police officers and two police staff) had recorded their religion as Jedi."

About 390,000 people listed their religion as Jedi in the 2001 Census for England and Wales. In Scotland the figure was a reported 14,000


Devotees re-enact the Crucifixion

Filipino devotees and an Australian man have re-enacted the Crucifixion by having themselves nailed to a cross in the Philippines.

John Michael, a 33-year-old Australian from Melbourne, and four Filipino devotees, including a woman, were nailed to crosses in a makeshift stage on a basketball court in northern Bulacan province's Paombong town as thousands of spectators looked on.
Ruben Enaje, 48, was nailed to the cross in San Pedro Cutud for the 23rd year. He said it is his way of thanking God for his miraculous survival after falling from a building.

Other devotees say they go through the pain to fulfil a vow or to pray for a cure for an illness in the family.


Atheists Flock to Secular Sunday School

Christian kids are typically sent to Sunday school for lessons on the Bible and morals. For nonbelievers, there's atheist Sunday school.

With an estimated 14 percent of Americans professing to have no religion, according to the Institute for Humanist Studies, some are choosing to send their children to classes that teach ethics without religious belief.

Bri Kneisley sent her 10-year-old son, Damian, to Camp Quest Ohio this past summer after a neighbor had shown him the Bible.

"Damian was quite certain this guy was right and was telling him this amazing truth that I had never shared," said Kneisley, who realized her son needed to learn about secularism, according to Time magazine.

Camp Quest, also dubbed "The Secular Summer Camp," is offered for children of atheists, freethinkers, humanists and other nonbelievers who hold to a "naturalistic, not supernatural world view," the camp website states.

The summer camp, offered across North America and supported by the Institute for Humanist Studies, is designed to teach rational inquiry, critical thinking, scientific method, ethics, free speech, and the separation of religion and government.

Kneisley welcomes the sense of community the camp offers her son. "He's a child of atheist parents, and he's not the only one in the world," she said, according to Time.

Atheist and humanist programs are expected to pop up in such cities as Phoenix, Albuquerque, N.M., and Portland, Ore., and adult nonbelievers are leaning on such secular Sunday schools to help teach their kids values and how to respond to the Christian majority in the United States.

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