Atheists abandon attempt to ban baptisms


‘Americans should be aware such lawsuits may seem far-fetched, but are happening’

Italy has a large Catholic population

An atheism-promoting organization has withdrawn its lawsuit demanding Christian baptisms of children be banned in Italy after a U.S.-based legal team took on the defense of a bishop and the Roman Catholic Church there.

“This was a preposterous lawsuit, and we are pleased that it has been dropped,” said Joseph Infranco, a senior counsel for the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund.

However, he said, “Americans should be aware that such lawsuits may seem far-fetched, but they really are happening … and foreign legal decisions are increasingly cited in American courts.”

The ADF stepped into the battle when the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics filed a lawsuit seeking an end to all baptisms of children in Italy. The organization alleged the practice encroached on its religious freedom and violated Italian Constitutional Court precedents regarding free will and personal privacy in religious decisions.

The organization alleged the law does not allow parents to enroll their children in certain groups such as trade unions, therefore, the law also “does not allow, as well, that the parents may decide their children become members of a religious association.”

The Alliance Defense Fund reported the plaintiff in the case was demanding that his name be erased from a baptism registry in what was described as a type of “debaptism.”

But the petition was withdrawn just before a court hearing was to take place.

Gianfranco Amato, an ADF-allied attorney, said the plaintiff became convinced that the nation’s legal precedents would not support such demands.

“It’s unthinkable to ask the government to force the church to abandon one of its sacraments to appease a radical, anti-religious agenda, yet that’s what this activist group did,” said Amato.

“According to Italian law, the demand to remove a name from the register must be made by an individual with a personal interest, rather than by a private association such as the UAAR,” said Amato. “Also, it was easy to demonstrate that the group had no legal leg on which to stand.”

Infranco said, “All parents have the right to raise their children in their religious tradition, which obviously includes participation in the historic rituals associated with that religion.”

The website for the atheist organization is in Italian, but an English translation describes the group as being based on the values of human rights, democracy, pluralism, equality and individuality.

The website has been highlighted among a listing of resources on the website of prominent atheist Richard Dawkins. : , , , , ,
Zooomr : , , , , ,
Technorati : , , , , ,
Flickr : , , , , ,


10 comments on “Atheists abandon attempt to ban baptisms

  1. ?

    So it is okay to induct children into an organization when they are too young to understand what they are agreeing to? That sounds like the sort of tactic cults use- you don’t happen to belong to a cult, now do you?

    I guess when you commit opression long enough and in God’s name it is above being questioned. After all, religion is about choice… except when we can brainwash the suckers.

    But I guess stoping it would be infringing on your religious freedom… except Italy DOESN’T use the US constitution.

  2. Samuel:

    You could say the same about goverment. A child is born into a country and forced to obey its laws and live by its regulations before it knows of anything else. Should we allow individuals non-citizenship until a certain age?

    Or what about the family unit itself? A child is born into a familial structure before it knows any of the members, and without any other option. Should we take away all children from their families at birth?

    Your line of argument is too ad hoc. The children have every right to reject their religious upbrining as they get older.

    You can do as you personally wish, but attempting to ban something which for millions of people is of the upmost importance is just ridiculous. It’s as outrageous as if we created a law that stated EVERY individual must practice religion.

    You do as you will do, and leave the rest of us alone. 😉

  3. Differant- you MUST belong to a country- they have all the land on Earth.

    Why would I break up families/ They’d live with another family or another care giver instead.

    Silly strawmen…

    Children have every right to reject their religious upbringing? No they don’t- you need the qualifier “civilized states”.

    Given that most people stay with their religion of brith, it is pretty obvious that it is based entirely on their parents.

    I’m not attacking this based on rationalism, atheism, morality, but the Church’s own stance- the government… well, the less said, the better.

    The Church’s own stance is that humans have free will. However, they are denying an individual free will by forcing them into the one true faith. Considering that faith is supposed to be a virtue they are deprieving them of that too.

    You are aware the Republican platform of 1860? Probably not, but I still love it ” And we pledge to abolish the twin evils of slavery and polygamy”.

    Just because a religion has something doesn’t mean we can’t ban it.

    I am playing devils advocate by the way- banning infant baptism is pointless. It is however, wrong considering the churches own position!

    The correct approach would be secularism… except there is, as always, problems to that approach- mostly tracable to “people are idiots”. A common problem for France and the US interestingly.

  4. Pingback: UAAR Ultimissime » Archivio » Disinformazione cristiana sull’UAAR e lo sbattezzo

  5. “Americans should be aware…” but of untruth.

    The UAAR association never proposed “such lawsuit” demanding Christian baptisms of children be banned. This is an enormous nonsense for an association how promotes freedom and individual rights.

    Only the legal effects of Catholic-Christian baptisms have been under discussion: the fact that a foreign country, the Holy See, states that Catholic baptised people are “sudditi e sottomessi” (“subject and subdued”) to it.

    This medieval pretence is reflected in the Italian legislature through the pacts made by Vatican with fascist govern in 1930s (later only slightly modified in 1980s) and through the presence of Vatican politic sycophants such as Mr. Gianfranco Amato.

    Be aware, yes. And – perhaps – is better to visit the UAAR site [] before blogging false news (I’m sorry, the only avaible site language is Italian).

  6. Pingback: Lo “sbattezzo” italiano crea il panico negli USA « Presente 2.0

  7. Pingback: A note about: “Atheists abandon attempt to ban baptisms” « Presente 2.0

  8. This article contains incorrect and misleading information regarding the activities of our association, and in the interests of fairness and accuracy we request that you publish the following rectification:
    – Your headline is erroneous and in fact a careful reading of account provided in your article fails to support your accusation. UAAR has never requested that the Italian government ban the rite of baptism.
    – Furthermore, UAAR has never requested that the government proscribe the baptism of infants specifically.
    – On the contrary, ten years ago UAAR did provide its support for a lawsuit filed by his former secretary seeking to establish that an adult who has been baptised as an infant (and who therefore is automatically considered by both the church and state to be a member of the church) can request to no longer be considered a member of the Catholic Church. As a result of this initiative, in 1999 the Garante italiano della privacy (the government office charged with protecting the information privacy of Italian citizens “in every sector of the social, economic and cultural spheres”) acknowledged this right.
    – At present, individuals who have been baptised can file a request with their bishop for a certificate recognizing their wish to no longer be considered as belonging to the Catholic Church. In practical terms – since baptism in the eyes of the Church is an act that, like marriage, cannot be annulled – this request simply signifies that the individual no longer considers him/herself a member of the Catholic Church and as such, should no longer be subject to canon law, whose jurisdiction in the civil sphere has been legally recognized by an Italian court.
    – Furthermore, the Garante recognized that this right pertains not only to atheists and agnostics, but also to members of other religions, including Christians who wish to obtain certification that they no longer belong to the Catholic Church.
    – UAAR is also seeking – but has not yet obtained – the right to have his/her certificate of baptism cancelled by his diocese. On the general principal that an adult should have the right to ask that an act undertaken on his behalf by others be cancelled, UAAR contends that persons of adult age who no longer consider themselves Catholic have the legitimate right to request the cancellation of an act that they do not recognize and which was imposed on them when they were minors. This position does not in any way imply a desire that the baptism of infants be proscribed. We instead ask that individuals – once they have reach maturity and if they no longer consider themselves Catholic – be allowed to request that their act of baptism be cancelled by the Church, likewise the Catholic marriage can be declared null by the Rota Romana.
    – On this point it is relevant to note that, in sentence no. 239/1984, the Constitutional Court of Italy established that an individual’s decision to join a religious community can only be considered valid if the decision was taken of the individual’s own free will.
    – It is also pertinent to note that the baptism of children is criticized by various Christian denominations. We are convinced that it would be preferable for parents to leave their children free to choose their faith when they reach maturity, but clearly this is a decision that must be left to the parents themselves.
    – It is obvious that, as non-believers, we do not believe in the spiritual effects of baptism. The rite nevertheless does have specific consequences in the eyes of Italian jurisprudence and affects the civil status of the individual. Baptised persons are considered to be subject to the ecclesiastical authorities; indeed, a sentence of the Appeals Court of Florence declared that they are subject specifically to the authority of their bishop. In Italian law, bishops have jurisdiction over the members of their diocese and can emit censures and condemnations based on the Code of Canon Law. This jurisdiction extends even to persons who no longer consider themselves to be Catholic (since the sacrament cannot be expunged). The only legal means for such individuals to remove themselves from this jurisdiction is through the formality of ‘de-baptism’.
    – The sole initiative undertaken by UAAR with regard to de-baptism was a case tried before a court eight years ago, in 2000, and we are not aware that any Christian organization – in America or Italy – took any interest or action in the affair.
    – Finally, that particular case was filed by an individual, our former secretary Lucian Franceschetti, and not by UAAR since in Italy such cases can only be brought by private citizens.
    Trusting in your wish to publish only accurate information, we respectfully request that you post this rectification on your site.
    Best regards
    Raffaele Carcano
    UAAR secretary (

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s