Thursday, July 30, 2009

Atheist Coming Out Party & De-Baptism Bash

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.


I didn't grow up in a particularly religious household. My immediate family is filled with Christmas and Easter (C&E) Christians. My mother and my youngest sister have attended church pretty consistently as they have aged, but the rest of us just go whenever the Spirit moves us. Although I was absent on most Sundays, I still grew up in the church. The church I attended, which is located in "the hood" of north Charlotte, offered after-school and summer programs for grade school kids. The academic and spiritual guidance I received during those programs helped me become the man I am today.

Initially, I was a little upset at the people mentioned in the article for mocking Christianity. The vast majority of my experiences with religion have been positive. I grew up in the Bible Belt where kids are immersed in Christianity before they learn to talk. I didn't even meet an atheist or an agnostic person until I entered graduate school. I tempered my initial reaction to this story when I thought about all the bad experiences some people have had with organized religion. Millions of people have been killed in wars over religion. There have been pedophilic priests who have done unforgivable things to young boys. There are even people who are so tired of sanctimonious Christians that they revolt against all those who worship a higher power.

I think the Atheist Coming Out Party & De-Baptism Bash is disrespectful to those who genuinely live by the loving words of the Lord. In my eyes, this event is on par with the crazy Christians who hold up signs that say things like "God Hates Fags" or "Abortion is Murder Under All Circumstances." Hate is wrong no matter who it is coming from.

Wake up all the doctors
Make the old people well
They're the ones who suffer
And catch all the hell
But they don't have so very long
Before their Judgment Day
So won't cha' make them happy
Before they pass away.