The trend of Dutch Catholics ‘de-baptizing’ themselves is gaining traction after Pope Benedict XVI made remarks against marriage equality in his World Day of Prayer for Peace (January 1) address.
Ontdopen.nl, the website that claims to provide automated ‘de-baptism,’ was begun as a response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Netherlands. Now, the Catholic Church’s continued campaign against marriage equality leads to a leap in website views from ten daily to ten thousand.
Bondings 2.0 previously covered the Pope’s address which included a statement that same-gender marriages manipulate nature and destroy the ‘essence of the human creature.’
According to Gay Star News, the ‘de-baptism’ process entails a person entering personal information and receiving a “ resignation letter” that can then be sent to diocesan and parish officials as formal separation from the Catholic Church.
Website founder Tom Roes readily admits that ‘de-baptism’ is not exactly the function of Ontdopen.nl, telling LGBTQ Nation about its true function and limits:
“‘Of course it’s not possible to be ‘de-baptized’ because a baptism is an event, but this way people can unsubscribe or de-register themselves as Catholics,’ Roes said, although he admits he has no way of verifying just how many visitors to his website actually follow through and leave the church.”
The growth of Ontdopen.nl in the Netherlands, the first nation to legalize marriage equality and one where 44% of citizens claim no religious affiliation, should be troubling for Catholic leadership. Until now, most adherents passively separated themselves by not participating in Mass or parish activities, but generally when asked by pollsters still claimed “Catholic” as their religious affiliation. Actively separating oneself from Catholicism is a new and further step.
With the United States emerging more like the Netherlands in providing greater LGBT equality and also declining in people who religiously affiliate, this Dutch trend is perhaps a troubling vision into American Catholicism’s future if the bishops continue their anti-equality efforts.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry