Nurse John Hunt tries to cancel baptism in UK first

This Is Local London: Unholy battle: Dr John Hunt is trying to become debaptised in a landmark case Unholy battle: Dr John Hunt is trying to become debaptised in a landmark case

A former Christian is bidding to be the first in the country to have his baptism cancelled.

In a landmark case, Dr John Hunt wants the record of his baptism at the parish church of St Jude and St Aidan in Thornton Heath expunged.

The 56-year-old said at just five months old he was too young to decide if he wanted to be baptised, and chose to stop going to Sunday school when he was about 11 years old.

Now he wants out.

He said: “It was a long time ago but I think it struck me there was a lot of hypocrisy around.

“Religion is a familiar part of our culture and tradition. I’m happy for children to be taught about religion and understand how they operate but I am totally against the indoctrination of children in any religion.”

But the former software engineer, who has re-trained to be a nurse, has a battle on his hands as the church is standing firm and refusing to cancel the record of the ceremony.

In a letter to Dr Hunt, Andrew Lane, from the Southwark Diocese, wrote: “Because the promises made by your parents and godparents on your behalf at your baptism were to God and not to the Church, membership of the Church effectively lapses by non-attendence.

"The fact your baptism took place is a matter of public record. The records cannot be amended retrospectively.”

In an attempt to highlight the problem, Dr Hunt appeared in a BBC documentary about the issue, along with Terry Sanderson from the National Secular Society (NSS), and read out a certificate of debaptism.

The NSS wants the church to allow the formal cancelling of baptisms, until such a time they have a debaptism certificate that people can download from its website.

Mr Sanderson said: “It is more of a symbolic gesture. John has been very persistent with his campaign.

“Most people are voting with their feet, the Church of England and the Catholic Church are both suffering a decline in numbers – that is the biggest form of debaptism.”

The Bishop of Croydon, the Right Reverend Nick Baines, told the BBC: “Whether we agree whether it should have happened or not is a different matter. But it’s a bit like trying to expunge Trotsky from the photos. Mr Hunt was baptised and that is a matter of public record.”

The church suggested Dr Hunt take out an advertisement renouncing his baptism in the London Gazette, a public record which has been going since the 17th century. It would then be able to include this with his baptism record.

Dr Hunt said: “It is ironic that, to revoke the original abuse, I have undergone a second church-prescribed ritual – albeit without any officiating priest – placing the announcement in the London Gazette.”

However, he has been unable to present the advert to anyone at the church. He said: “I asked if I could hand over the advertisement to the Bishop of Croydon. I was told he preferred not to meet me at the moment.”

Comments (9)

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9:59am Wed 18 Mar 09

Angela M says...

I've always found it disturbing that parents can decide these things on behalf of their children. He should consider himself lucky, though - baptism is easier to 'reverse' than a circumcision!
I've always found it disturbing that parents can decide these things on behalf of their children. He should consider himself lucky, though - baptism is easier to 'reverse' than a circumcision! Angela M

10:42am Wed 18 Mar 09

Bob Peel says...

Anyone getting the sniff of a future claim for compensation here?

"I was baptised against my will and now they act against my Human Rights" sort of thing?
Anyone getting the sniff of a future claim for compensation here? "I was baptised against my will and now they act against my Human Rights" sort of thing? Bob Peel

12:03pm Wed 18 Mar 09

ANNE GILES says...

More room for the rest of us in Heaven, then.
More room for the rest of us in Heaven, then. ANNE GILES

12:47pm Wed 18 Mar 09

Carly says...

I think you should be able to choose yur own religion.
Personally I am glad I wasn;t baptised as I find religion is a main factor into most wars these days & a lot of religious reading is very hypocritical.
Just my personal opinion before people slag me off
I think you should be able to choose yur own religion. Personally I am glad I wasn;t baptised as I find religion is a main factor into most wars these days & a lot of religious reading is very hypocritical. Just my personal opinion before people slag me off Carly

1:48pm Wed 18 Mar 09

Tooting Tooting says...

darwin fish
darwin fish Tooting Tooting

10:34am Thu 19 Mar 09

ANNE GILES says...

I am a lapsed Catholic.
I am a lapsed Catholic. ANNE GILES

4:37pm Thu 19 Mar 09

robking says...

I was baptised when i was a baby, but i've been an atheist since about five years of age.

I don't blame my perants, it was just something everybody did in those days.

I think that churches should not baptise children until they are old enough to decide for themselves, say from the age of ten, what they believe in.

I was baptised when i was a baby, but i've been an atheist since about five years of age. I don't blame my perants, it was just something everybody did in those days. I think that churches should not baptise children until they are old enough to decide for themselves, say from the age of ten, what they believe in. robking

12:14pm Thu 26 Mar 09

melissa67 says...

I find this all a bit pathetic really. If as a child you are christened/baptised and later in life you have no faith, what does it matter, if you believe that nothing is there, then the baptism has meant nothing. However if you grow up with a faith, that act will have been very important for you, and we can not take back time. Grown-ups HAVE to make decisions for children, for instance, had this mans parents not held his hand when he crossed the road when he was very small, he would have been hit by a car, and they chose to feed him the right foods and send him to school and keep him safe, he is not complaining about any of those decisions is he! The decision to baptise a baby is made by the parent because it has no voice, and something may happen to it before it is old enough to make its own choice. There is nothing to stop an adult having a believers baptism later in life if they wish to, and as i have said before, if they have no faith, the childhood baptism has cost them nothing. Is there not enough problems in this world to be worrying about without this. Children are suffering terrible abuse and wickedness at the hands of some parents, and this man is causing all this hassle over a loving act. Stop being so selfish and be grateful that you somebody loved you enough to care!
I find this all a bit pathetic really. If as a child you are christened/baptised and later in life you have no faith, what does it matter, if you believe that nothing is there, then the baptism has meant nothing. However if you grow up with a faith, that act will have been very important for you, and we can not take back time. Grown-ups HAVE to make decisions for children, for instance, had this mans parents not held his hand when he crossed the road when he was very small, he would have been hit by a car, and they chose to feed him the right foods and send him to school and keep him safe, he is not complaining about any of those decisions is he! The decision to baptise a baby is made by the parent because it has no voice, and something may happen to it before it is old enough to make its own choice. There is nothing to stop an adult having a believers baptism later in life if they wish to, and as i have said before, if they have no faith, the childhood baptism has cost them nothing. Is there not enough problems in this world to be worrying about without this. Children are suffering terrible abuse and wickedness at the hands of some parents, and this man is causing all this hassle over a loving act. Stop being so selfish and be grateful that you somebody loved you enough to care! melissa67

2:23pm Fri 27 Mar 09

ANNE GILES says...

Hear, hear. My parents had me baptised as Catholic and I am very glad that they did. I am a lapsed Catholic and don't go to Church. However, I am very happy with the baptism.
Hear, hear. My parents had me baptised as Catholic and I am very glad that they did. I am a lapsed Catholic and don't go to Church. However, I am very happy with the baptism. ANNE GILES

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