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Excommunication - making your unbelief official

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2006 1:29 am
by Wraith
It has occurred to me a few times over the years to look into whether excommunication from the RC church is possible, but I never pursued it. Today, the thought struck me again, along with the inevitable 'does it really matter whether I do it or not' thought. So a quick Google brought up with 'Easy Steps' to getting off the church's books, so to speak.

"You will need to write a letter to your current parish. It should include the necessary information to meet all of the criteria for deserving to be excommunicated." That's the short version.

The question for atheists is, does it matter to us that much? Should we ignore that part of the religion as we do the others? Perhaps we shouldn't be bothered by it. On the other hand, wouldn't it send a great message to the church and to people in general, some of whom may feel alone in their rationality in a blatantly theist-supporting society? Here's something I'd like to see in the news: "There has been a 14% increase in voluntary excommunications year-on-year, marking 200x as having a record-breaking high number of people unsatisfied with the world-view of the church."


Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2006 3:19 pm
by Haymoon
That's an interesting question you posed. However, my own view is that it is irrelevant to atheists/unbelievers and have voted as such. One positive thing one could do is not to have one's children "enrolled" into the church by baptism for instance. The difficulty here (in Ireland) is finding a non religious school. Otherwise children whose parents wish them to not be included in religious instruction could suffer "discrimination" or possibly bullying. The Irish National School system whereby denominations pay for the buildings and the State pays the teachers salary and provides capitation grants is a hangover from the nineteenth century when the Catholic church extracted the policy from the British Government following the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829. The modern Irish State requires a fully funded State education system which is religiously neutral. Let the denominations instruct their believers separately. This is all the more urgently needed with the increased recent immigration if we are to avoid the evils of multiculturalism as has developed in the UK.

Posted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 3:33 am
by Stublore
My initial response was thats that it is irrelevant to atheists/unbelievers, but before i vote, i am going to think on it. Why? Well it occurred to me that if suddenly a lot of priests started getting these letters asking to be excommunicated, it could be the 1st step in making Aetheist more active and vocal, at the very least it would cause the RC to ask what the hell is going on(pun intended :) )

Posted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 7:48 pm
by seamus
Thanks for this Wraith, I didn’t know you could ask to be excommunicated. It’s something that I would like to do just for the hell of it (oops another pun :roll: )

It seems like a lot of trouble to go to, but it would get peoples attention to hear of someone being excommunicated these days. And maybe provoke some thought on their own philosophical stance.

I'll need to think more on this one

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 7:25 pm
by seamus
Been thinking about this and it’s a complicated issue. On the one hand I can draw an analogy and compare getting excommunicated to picking a fight with some one you don’t like instead of just avoiding them. Some reasonable people may say, “you’re just being an ass about the whole thing” And on the other hand it smacks of honesty to myself and others.

So many people these days just use the church for the trappings of christenings communions and weddings. They pander to the churches demands, return to mass, do the marriage guidance course. If I was asked to do best man for a brother of mine I would have to politely decline if the wedding was a religious ceremony. It would be dishonest of me to stand at the altar and participate in a religious ceremony. If I had just been asked to “the whole day” I would probably go and sit in a pew as a guest in appreciation of the invite. Would the priest allow this if I had chosen voluntary excommunication? It doesn’t really matter because the evening party is the best bit, but it might have been nice to attend “the whole day” as a gracious guest rather than a participant.

There is understandable pressure on people to conform as opposed to standout, they or their children may become the subject of ridicule. This should not be the case! There are possible repercussions to consider. If you intend to have kids, will “the best” primary school allow the enrolment of a child whose parent has voluntarily excommunicated? Is there a secular primary school near you?

I myself don’t really intend having kids at this stage so I’m under less pressure to conform. Getting excommunicated would be a bold statement. It would be interesting to see the kinds of debate people would engage me in, see their true colours.

Excommunication - making your unbelief official

Posted: Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:28 pm
by CitizenPaine
I've read the article pointed to by the link and, in fact, I now find the reasoning to be compelling. My family know all about my position on religion but to be fair especially to my daughter (age 19, who may have some ideas of a church wedding at some time in the future) I will mention to them my intention to write to the parish I was born into, along the lines in the article. Then I'll do it.

Making excommunication official

Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:29 pm
by Haymoon
Hi to CitizenPaine and welcome to the site.
You appear to be a man of similar vintage to myself. Those of us of a mature age have seen big changes in Ireland over the years. We in particular (and those before us I guess) were subject to most insidious indoctrination on the subject of religion. I too am a fan of Bertrand Russell and read his "Why I am not a Christian" many years ago.
Tread carefully in your intention to write to your parish to express an intention to be excommunicated. I note you said your daughter expressed a view to have a church wedding. Your actions may have consequences for her intentions. Most people (and especially young and female - if that's not too condescending) feel the need for some ceremony for the so-called "Rites of Passage". The religious context provides that and in the case of weddings provides the "stage" for all the associated romantic trappings. I say this without disapproval. But did you know that the Humanist Association of Ireland provides a secular service for such occasions :?: see
I am sure with a bit of imagination a really memorable day could be organized without any church involvement unless of course your daughter's desire for a church wedding is a really conscientious one in which case you must be the one to be tolerant.


Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 9:40 pm
by CitizenPaine
Thanks for the welcome and the thoughts, Haymoon.

I won't rush in. Time (although I don't feel THAT old) teaches that things can be dealt with to my schedule rather than to anyone else's agenda. Rest assured: I will not repeat the coercive behaviour I experienced in my youth - particularly with regard to my daughter.

I look forward to participating in your site.


Citizen Paine

Posted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:26 pm
by Martha
CitizenPaine directed me to this poll, so I cast my vote in the "non-issue" box, as the Church has no relevance to my life whatsoever. Then, as I was reading through the posts here, it occurred to me that the Census provides the facts and figures with regard to religious belief. That surely is all that's needed, i.e., relevant. I think its probably more effective just to ignore the Church, rather than writing letters asking to be excommunicated. That's daft when you think about it. After all, did any of us choose to be a Catholic when we were children? Not bloody likely!

Posted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:41 pm
by CatHerder
And what about
Martha wrote: I've been pouncing for years... give the RC fuckers as much "grief" as they give us, that's what I say! If nothing else, be a Nuisance Value :D