I have just been pointed towards the latest statement by the National Secular Society about what they call ‘de-baptism’. Oh dear. You would think that they would pay just a smidgeon more attention to accuracy on the grounds that it is always wise to (a) know your subject and (b) get your facts right. Otherwise you risk looking a bit stupid. It begins as follows:

‘Despite a letter from Lambeth Palace telling the NSS that it would not sanction any form of official ‘debaptism’, one diocese is bucking the trend. The Diocese of Croydon…’ It later goes on to state: ‘So now John Hunt is the first person in Britain to be officially debaptised by the Church of England. But the “in this particular case” rider in the Church message seems to suggest that he might also be the last.’

Firstly, there is no Diocese of Croydon. Croydon is an Episcopal Area in the Diocese of Southwark.

Secondly, John Hunt cannot be the last to be ‘officially’ debaptised because he isn’t the first either. ‘Debaptism’ is not possible. From the point of view of Christians, baptism is something that happened and there is no way of ‘un-doing’ it. From the point of view of atheists, nothing happened at baptism anyway and therefore there is nothing to ‘de-do’. Sticking John Hunt’s note in the register is not ‘de-anything’; it is simply a note in a register that has no effect whatsoever other than to make him feel better that he has been heard.

Is this really so hard to understand? We truly need to put the reason back into rationalism.