At one time just saying you were an atheist or a non-Christian was enough, and then carrying Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion as if it were a catechism, really exemplified the point. But apparently that isn't enough.
In a world steeped in hard economic times, where people, especially Americans are rebuked for having too much stuff, some atheists and newly minted non-Christians still have to have something in their hands to prove their committed, at least to themselves:
More than 100,000 Britons have recently downloaded "certificates of de-baptism" from the Internet to renounce their Christian faith.
The initiative launched by a group called the National Secular Society (NSS) follows atheist campaigns here and elsewhere, including a London bus poster which triggered protests by proclaiming "There's probably no God."
One reason for the "de-baptism"certificate is the view that baptize is seen as "a form of child abuse," while most complaints seem to be a reaction to the galling fact that the Catholic Church is making a serious effort to be come involved in worldly concerns:
De-baptism organisers say the initiative is a response to what they see as increasing stridency from churches -- the latest last week when Pope Benedict XVI stirred global controversy on a trip to AIDS-ravaged Africa by saying condom use could further spread of the disease.
"The Catholic Church is so politically active at the moment that I think that is where the hostility is coming from," said [NSS president Terry] Sanderson. "In Catholic countries there is a very strong feeling of wanting to punish the church by leaving it."
"We are in an interesting climate where Catholicism and other belief systems have moved into the public, pluralist arena, alongside secularists," . . .
Sanderson meanwhile remains resolute. "The fact that people are willing to pay for the parchments shows how seriously they are taking them," he said.
Whether there is a future in "de-baptism" certificates or they're just a pop culture collectable is yet to be seen, but you still have to appreciate the financial spirit of the venture. When people will buy a certificate for 4.35 dollars, it shows that Capitalism is not dead.