Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Don't wanna be a Christian? Go debaptise yourself

After lunch at The Fryer's Delight last weekend, Wife and I were walking towards Holborn Tube station when something on a display window caught my eye.

A sign, "Debaptise Yourself" and a "Certificate of Debaptism" were encased in a frame that was propped up near the window.

When I went back home for a visit earlier this year, one of the first questions that my folks asked me was whether I have converted to Christianity. A rather valid question if you consider that the momentum for youths and working professionals converting to Christianity is growing in Singapore. Naturally, my folks would expect that I do the same given that I am now in a what they consider as a Christian country.

Debaptise+YourselfInterestingly, the Archbishop of Canterbury was commenting that with the influx of immigrants, the changing mindset of Britons and declining church attendance, the Church of England's influence has ebbed and England can no longer be described as a Christian country. Of late, there was even this Debaptise Yourself movement put forth by the National Secular Society.

Curiously, churches back home have been growing rapidly in the last decade with membership swelling such that one of them, which has been renting convention halls to hold services, decided to spend millions to build a new church. Another was purported to have paid their leader half a million dollars (approximately £211,308 at the time of writing). On comparison, the Archbishop of Canterbury is paid £70,000 annually.

Of course, it's nobody's business if the followers would see fit to reward their leaders (even to a tune of a cool half a million dollars) but is that just a matter of supply and demand? What are your views on this?

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14 comments:

SheR. said...

This is absolutely interesting!
You know what...my grandma at the age of 80 just converted to Christianity recently after spending the most of her life worshipping Taoist gods!

This is strange how converting to Christianity can be deemed "cool" compared to other Asian-based religions.

C K said...

@SheR,
I guess many back home view Christianity as more accessible with a more youthful group and 'sharing' sessions conducted on a regular basis. In contrast, Taoism and Buddhism seems rather inaccessible or if you would like, 'uncool'.

Yank said...

I am Christian but I have Buddhist relatives. Even they would consider it sacrilegious for Christians to "debaptise" themselves. The idea is ludicrous. What's wrong with just saying that you no longer believe? The Christian religion may be appealing to non-Christian countries because it is relatively new to them, and novelty appeals to youths. Another problem in Britain is the excessive political correctness that preaches tolerance to anything and everything. As a result, youths grow up with very little conviction in anything.

SheR. said...

Religion is a personal choice. You do not get born into it. You choose it. I respect conversion or "de-conversion". Yes, when I was younger (boo hoo), friends used to call me for gatherings in churches so that I can "meet new friends". Oh that's like a marketing tactic! Bah!

C K said...

@Yank,
I'm not sure whether is an issue with the lack of conviction. I'm sure if you ask those who went for debaptism, they're likely to tell you that they are convinced that they do not want to be a Christian, and therefore the debaptism.

@SheR,
Not sure whether you have been to some of the services of the larger contemporary churches in S'pore. It's like a rock concert everytime. :)

FĂ«anor said...

Ha, all this religious to-and-fro is hilarious. As with many other things in modern life, religion is a commodity. One tries it out for size, and gives it up if it doesn't suit. And if one can get a certificate for converting, why not get another for deconverting. Then one can have two fine wall-hangings, nicely framed.

bbrian017 said...

Hmmm is this for real? I don’t see why anyone would need to do this.

C K said...

@Feanor,
Haha, one can start a collection there.

Was reading an article on Times today. Was saying that having a religion will add a couple of years to one's life. Another incentive to add one more cert on the wall!

@bbrian017,
Obviously, some people feel strongly enough about it. I think some do that thinking that the Church of England wouldn't be able to count them amoung its flock to 'artificially' boost its numbers. But I'm not sure it works that way.

::karinuslai:: said...

i personally always associated the decline in church-going in the uk mostly with the growing disillusionment with authority figures of all kind (including that of the cloth) that has been setting in with brits ever since the 70s and the loss of faith in the ruling/upper classes. i don't know what kind of trend the singapore growth in christianity shows though... though i do find that christianity in singapore has a very kiasu/kiasi tinge to it. personally find a lot of the monetary/financial language that's permeated the local concept of religion to be highly offensive - and i'm not even a christian. for example, i attended a church wedding where the pastor's attempt to come up with an analogy for marriage was "think of it as a bank loan. you're on loan from god to one another..." i was very tempted to walk out straight out the door.

C K said...

@karinuslai,
I'm sorry, you've lost me. In what context did the pastor make the statement? I mean, what's the deal about "loan from one god to another"?

Like all commodities (as Feanor put it), religion is really based on supply and demand. As long as the (say) church offers something (most often comfort) to the church goer, the church will be rewarded in turn.

Curiously, some view that pastors and priests should not be rewarded monetarily, but should they not, if they do provide certain valued services, be entitled to it? That would be an interesting discussion.

Boy, this is getting serious. Feanor, I need a hand here. :)

kyh said...

I don't agree that religious leaders should be rewarded with money (up to millions like that!) or any other material thing. being the head of the flock, it's your duty to take care of their spiritual needs and the functioning of the church/temple/whatever. Once you've chosen to walk this path (the religious way), you should be able to forgo all the seduction of the material world.

My grandma once attended a church service (brought there by our neighbour), and she came back and told me that the pastor toldhis flock, "Believe in God so that every generation of yours will be rich and prosperous!"

C K said...

@kyh,
Rich and Prosperous indeed! Huat ah!

Hmm, I think the pastor was referring to spiritual wealth perhaps?

kyh said...

Material wealth, that is! The pastor told the audience that every Christian company/entrepreneur earns big bucks - so believe in God! Ha!

C K said...

@kyh,
lol, I don't think we should dwell on providing a breakdown of people's wealth according to their religion as that, to me, is pretty pointless.

On the other hand, we should also realise that some of us, in our prayers, explicitly ask to strike lottery...