Dutch website helps people leave Catholic Church

Reuters is reporting some good news: in the Netherlands, you can go to a web site that will help turn Catholics into ex-Catholics, and the Church’s anti-gay stance is driving traffic to the site.

Tom Roes, whose website allows people to download the documents needed to leave the church, said traffic on ontdopen.nl – “de-baptise.nl” – had soared from about 10 visits a day to more than 10,000 after Pope Benedict’s latest denunciation of gay marriage this month.

“Of course it’s not possible to be ‘de-baptized’ because a baptism is an event, but this way people can unsubscribe or de-register themselves as Catholics,” Roes told Reuters.

Roes says he was inspired to set up the web site by the Church’s notorious double standard.

In a Christmas address to Vatican officials, the pope signaled the he was ready to forge alliances with other religions against gay marriage, saying the family was threatened “to its foundations” by attempts to change its “true structure”.

Roes, a television director, said he left the church and set up his website partly because he was angry about the way the church downplayed or covered-up sexual abuse in Catholic orphanages, boarding schools and seminaries.

Child sexual abuse, you see, is no big deal to the Church, and certainly isn’t anything you’d band together with other religions to combat. Two people falling in love the “wrong” way, though, and enjoying a happy, healthy, committed relationship—that’s got to go. Or else the Church does.

Here’s to Tom Roes, and may his web site be increasingly successful in helping people choose the latter option.


  1. says

    I’m pretty happy with the pope’s anti-gay stance. It’s now out in the open to its rotten core that the Catholic Church is Bad, and since the Dutch Bible Belt is protestant-only, almost all Catholics in the Netherlands are moderate to liberal, and in support of gay marriage and the availability of euthenesia and abortion. So the pope spewing hatred does not really warm their hearts, and all those Catholic “by tradition” now think twice of staying Catholic. Mr. Roes’ (pronounced “Roose”, not “Rows” by the way) initiative is very welcome, and I hope many Catholics will follow suite of those already “debaptized”.

  2. says

    Although I applaud the effort to rescue people from the thrall of the church…I kinda don’t get it. Why does it take a formal statement? Or “help” of any sort? Do the Dutch pay taxes to their individual church?

    I left my church mentally when I was 13. Didn’t believe anymore. Figured it out.

    As soon as I was old enough to refuse to go to church with the family, I did. That’s “leaving the church”. Doesn’t matter what they think. My name can be on their rolls, and on the Mormon’s, and whatever other religion wants to claim me. Doesn’t make it real or true.

    Just stop going to the church. Stop giving them money. Stop apologizing for their criminal behavior. Stop wearing hats indoors (or outdoors, or wherever it is they want you to wear or not wear hats). Eat the bacon cheeseburger during Lent on Friday (or whatever/whenever some food is prohibited). Stop believing in their nonsense.

    Stop acknowledging their “authority” over you. They have none other than that which you give to them.

  3. Thorne says

    Kevin, for the most part I agree with you. But from what I’ve read there are places in Europe where you are taxed based upon which religion you admit to. So removing yourself from the church might be a good idea.

    Personally, I think those unbaptism things are amusing, and perhaps send a message to those on the fence, but they have no basis in reality. And besides, the RCC claims that once you are baptized it’s for eternity. There’s no removing that stain from your soul.

    The real problem, as I see it, is that the churches apparently use baptismal records to determine the number of sheep they have, even if they aren’t able to fleece them all. I would gladly like to have a way to force them to remove my name from their rolls, permanently,. just for the sake of pissing them off, and because it would cost them a hell of a lot more to do it than it would cost me to demand it.

  4. sumdum says

    Might also help remove the lobbying power of the catholic church which they may or may not be using in politics. The less people they have on the rolls, the less their power will be.

  5. says

    I am Dutch. Off course Kevin is right. The actual leaving of the church is by not giving money, or going there, or whatever. But the Dutch Catholic church, claims 4.2 million (out of 16 million) are catholic.

    They have a say in our political system, because of that number. We have a multiparty system, and some national tv channels. If that 4.2 million could go down to the amount of people actually going to church on a regular basis, then their influence would wane to more acceptable levels.

    Their political influence would drop to 1/8, ad their tv presence to virtually non-existent. So, there is a real world advantage to de-baptizing.

    Which explains why a website is needed. The RCC makes it as difficult as possible to de-baptize. Which off course proves the point that a baptized person gives them some sort of power.

  6. says

    @Kevin #4: Though I admit it’s largely symbolic, baptizing is the church claiming ownership of a child. With debaptizing you deprive them of that ownership. Also, if you’re not officially written out of their records, they can still claim you’re one of them, and count you as one of them in the official stats. By clearing the records, you are actively refuting their influence.

    @Thorne #7: In the Netherlands, you’re not taxed for church membership. Iirc, that’s in Germany.

    @Roeland #9: The Catholic Church does not have a say in Dutch politics, other than through the usual means. With the demise of the CDA, their influence in politics is second to none (if there were any actual influence at all). The only TV presence they have is through the KRO, which is bound to he same rules as the other publically funded broadcasting companies, viz. through the number of members. And those members are independent of church membership. So I’m not sure where your information comes from, but thank god it’s not true.

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