ATHEIST FOUNDATION OF AUSTRALIA INC
EASY STEPS TO EXCOMMUNICATION
We concentrate on the Roman Catholic Church because it is one of the worst for inflating its numbers by counting everyone who was ever baptised without taking into account current attendance, and because leaving membership in many fundamentalist and cultish Christian groups is fairly easy. For instance, if you are a Mormon, you can simply send a clearly worded letter to your local Mormon bishop asking to have your name erased from the membership records of the church, and it shall be done.
If you are a member of a European State Church, there are tax advantages to leaving it. Visit the site of the Norwegian Heathen Society for further information.
The Roman Catholic church apparently does not excommunicate its members easily. They say that the reason for this is to leave the way open for reconciliation. However, their thinking is based on irrational belief and is motivated by fear, and they assume that you are the same. They believe that you will react as they do to the fear of death, and wish to deny reality and embrace an illusion. Even more importantly, by never giving up a member, the church is able to claim millions as members, who do not accept its doctrines, who never attend, who never contribute money or time and who are, in fact, opposed to what it stands for. This greatly enhances its power. If you were ever baptised a Roman Catholic, and have not been excommunicated, you are still being counted. If you do not wish to contribute to the power of the Roman Catholic church, you may want to get yourself excommunicated.
Also, think of the publicity that there would be in only 5 or 10% of the world's billion or so Catholics decided to leave the church permanently, by way of requesting excommunication. This is what I hope will eventually happen.
Why should I get excommunicated? Three good reasons.
The Roman Catholic church is misogynistic.
Although they may talk about 'cherishing' or 'adoring' womanhood, they mean a master's appreciation of an obedient and docile servant. They do not believe that women are the equals of men. The church funds and works for anti-woman legislation around the world. The Roman Catholics and the Mormons were the primary sources of the funds and lobbying which helped defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the United States. The church has crippled international development, especially in the neediest countries, by refusing to allow any form of birth control to be discussed. Ireland and other Catholic countries have done the church's dirty work by blocking international meetings unless all countries submit to Catholic doctrine in matters of birth control.
Historically, the church has fostered wife abuse by promoting cultures where any marriage, no matter how bad, was better for a woman than living alone. The Pope has just issued a statement that the Church will never ordain women as priests.
The Roman Catholic church is homophobic.
In fact, it's worse than that, the proper description of its position is 'pro-natalist'. Any form of sexual behavior that doesn't raise the birth rate is forbidden. Sex as an expression of love and sexual activity for simple pleasure are prohibited or subordinated to the production of little Catholics. Even within marriage the loving exchange of pleasure is a sin. The church will also refuse to marry couples if the union cannot be fertile, which has caused untold anguish to couples wherein one partner was handicapped or otherwise infertile. Through the ages, of course, men have had little trouble getting their pleasure from sex. The burden of this policy falls on women, whose bodies and health are destroyed by endless childbearing. Homosexuality is completely prohibited and is condemned with unusually intense loathing and disgust. (Although priestly pedophilia was very lightly punished, if at all, until recently.) The church has never objected to any punishments, up to and including death, which a society has wished to impose on homosexuals, quite the opposite. the Church is lobbying against civil rights legislation for homosexuals, and is attempting to influence its congregations to deny homosexuals equal human rights with other citizens.
The Roman Catholic Church is antidemocratic, authoritarian and intolerant.
Americans, Canadians and others from secular or otherwise non-Catholic countries may refuse to believe this. However, like every religion, the Catholic church, when it is in a minority position, is all in favor of tolerance and democracy. However, when it is in control, as in Ireland or Poland, it shows its true colors. The church is much more comfortable with authoritarian right-wing governments and has historically allied itself with them. If the people in so-called 'Catholic' countries who do not accept the homophobic, misogynistic and intolerant doctrines of Catholicism would take the step of leaving the church, especially in a positive direction towards humanism, the church's power to do harm would be greatly lessened. Historically, the church saw Mussolini and Hitler as bulwarks against atheistic communism and actively supported the fascist Spanish dictator Franco against the democratic republic. Hitler, although a Catholic, never committed a grave enough sin to merit excommunication. Such an action on the church's part might have saved millions of lives.
I don't accept the church's position on birth control, or on abortion, I don't believe in the prayers, the miracles or the theology, and I haven't been to church in ages except for weddings and funerals. I am no longer a Roman Catholic. I don't want to be counted as a Catholic. How do I get excommunicated?
As of 1983 there are nine canons under which excommunication can take place. Five of them only apply to priests or bishops. One of the others is physically attacking the pope, and criminal acts can hardly be recommended. Another is 'violation of sacred species', normally called desecrating a consecrated host. It is hard to imagine doing this without committing a criminal act; and it would certainly deeply offend almost everybody. Next to last is 'procuring of abortion'. Excommunication for this is supposed to be automatic, but it only applies to the doctor and the woman involved. I am told the church does not seek out such cases. In any case one would hardly choose an abortion solely for the sake of excommunication. It may pay to mention any active work you have done on behalf of making access to abortion safe and legal, and any work you have done help women procure abortions. Recently, the church mentioned that it does consider such work to be and excommunicatable offence, but that it will not seek offenders out. Thus, by contributing a small amount to an organization, like Planned Parenthood, or Global Population Concern, or helping out at any women's medical clinic which offers contraceptive and abortion services, you can easily make yourself eligible for excommunication. Otherwise, there is canon 1364, ©1 Apostasy, heresy, or schism. This involves automatic excommunication, if you can convince the church that it applies to you. The most common usage of this canon is when a former Catholic embraces another religion. Obviously, if you are now a Muslim, a Mormon or a Jehovah's Witness, you are automatically no longer a Catholic. It is your task to convince the church that you, as an atheistic secular humanist, (or whatever) are in the same 'non-Catholic' category as a Muslim or Buddhist. In your favor is a nineteenth century ruling which stated that ":those who make a public renunciation of all religion may be subsumed under this category [apostates]." 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. You may also present this to your birth parish, if this is convenient.
The Church's criteria for meriting excommunication
The church is patronizing to atheists. They can easily recognize another superstition, but, being unfamiliar with rationality, they have difficulty accepting the decision to renounce all mumbo jumbo. They have, however, officially established these criteria for judging all cases of excommunication: You must ACT. Mere thought is not enough. You should be able to cite memberships in freethought and humanist groups. You should be able to cite actions you have taken, such as, letters written, demonstrations attended, meetings attended, magazine subscriptions, etc. As well as negative actions, like not attending church, not giving them any money, time or thought for years. You must be PERSISTENT. This must take place over a long period of time. If at first you don't succeed...Cite long commitment, and keep trying and keep writing. You must be CONTUMACIOUS. As in: I am firm, you are contumacious, he is pig-headed. Do not waver or indicate any hesitation. It is not necessary to be impolite, but do not be unclear in your condemnation of Catholicism in order to avoid offence. You must be AWARE that this involves excommunication. For them, ignorance of canon law is an excuse. State in your letter that you are aware of this, that you know what the consequences are and that this is what you wish to happen. You have to BE A ROMAN CATHOLIC. Obviously. In your letter, make them aware of this by telling them the parish where you were baptised and the date. Many people, hoping for some kind of heresy cachet, have inquired about getting excommunciated, even though they are not currently memebers of a church. No, you can't.
THEY HAVE A DUTY to other Roman Catholics
Your mental state is something that no one knows except you. You are the only expert on your own non-religious status. They have a duty to inform other Roman Catholics about this change in you so that they do not mishandle their dealings with you. In terms of marriage, communion, death and so on, you should be treated as a non-Catholic. If they fail to do this, they are not dealing fairly with the Catholics in their charge. So far, most cases have gone smoothly. Using the citations in this article seems to impress them with the idea that you are serious, you know what you are talking about, and that this is not a "spur or the moment" whim. If, however, you meet resistance, there is some heavier ammunition below. Fill out the handy form below and send it in to your local priest. This may only get things started. Be prepared to continue for a long time. Remember: each person who does this makes it easier for the next person.