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De-Baptism Hair Dryers

Fox News points to a rather bizarre phenomenon:  “U.S. Atheists Reportedly Using Hair Dryers to ‘De-Baptize’.”

American atheists lined up to be “de-baptized” in a ritual using a hair dryer, according to a report Friday on U.S. late-night news program “Nightline.”

Leading atheist Edwin Kagin blasted his fellow non-believers with the hair dryer to symbolically dry up the holy water sprinkled on their heads in days past. The styling tool was emblazoned with a label reading “Reason and Truth.”

Kagin believes parents are wrong to baptize their children before they are able to make their own choices, even slamming some religious education as “child abuse.” He said the blast of hot air was a way for adults to undo what their parents had done.

Donald Sensing, a retired Army officer and current Methodist minister, rightly points to the nonsensical nature of this ritual.

There are only two choices here:

1. Baptism is nothing and means nothing. It’s a zero, a null set. Therefore, de-baptism is nothing and means nothing. You cannot subtract from zero or take away from an empty set. So exactly what is the point?

2. Baptism does have some reality to it, so by going through motions with this hair dryer, that reality is presumed removed from the life of the de-baptized.

So which of these two, mutually-exclusive conclusions does someone standing before the dryer affirm? If baptism is not real, it can have no hold on you. But if baptism is real, at least in some way, then it cannot be revoked by human word or deed, since baptism is the work of the Holy Spirit with the priest or pastor as effective, but not original, agent. In most Christian theology of baptism, someone can no more be de-baptized than a Jewish man can be de-circumcised.

I suppose there’s a third choice:

3. Baptism means nothing to these people, but they think this is amusing and/or irritating to Christians.

Given the in-your-face attitude of segments of American atheism, I’m betting on that rather than sheer stupidity.

Also, as I discovered when looking for photos for the post, this practice has been around at least two years.  But if Don and I hadn’t heard of it before now, maybe you haven’t either.

Photo credit: MoPo

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Tano says:

    Donald Sensing seems to utterly lack a sense of humor. And not much common sense either.

    “So which of these two, mutually-exclusive conclusions does someone standing before the dryer affirm?”

    How about ….neither.

    “[He] rightly points to the nonsensical nature of this ritual.”

    well, duh…

    “Given the in-your-face attitude of segments of American atheism, I’m betting on that rather than sheer stupidity”

    And you too James? Isn’t it rather obvious these people are just having fun, goofing on what they perceive to be some superstitious ritual?

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  2. Matt says:

    Putting the label of “reason” on the hair dryer is especially ironic.

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  3. Brett says:

    3. Baptism means nothing to these people, but they think this is amusing and/or irritating to Christians.

    That’s likely it. They know that a lot of christians treat baptism like it’s some magical ritual, and the whole blow-drying thing is poking fun at that.

    I’ve honestly never heard of it though, even on my own, from the atheists I know personally, or from atheist bloggers like P.Z. Myers.

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  4. Franklin says:

    Isn’t it rather obvious these people are just having fun, goofing on what they perceive to be some superstitious ritual?

    That could be, but they appear to be doing it for the publicity. Are the writings of Richard Dawkins fun for you also?

    You could say I lean towards being an atheist, but some people are intent on rubbing their beliefs in other people’s faces, and I’m not a big fan of that.

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  5. I suppose there’s a third choice: [¶] 3. Baptism means nothing to these people, but they think this is amusing and/or irritating to Christians. [¶] Given the in-your-face attitude of segments of American atheism, I’m betting on that rather than sheer stupidity.

    Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding!

    Thank you for recognizing that this sort of sophomoric behavior is found in “segments” of American atheism rather than attributing it to all American atheists; not all of us care to stick our thumbs in the eyes of our religious neighbors.

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  6. Steve Plunk says:

    Draw a cartoon that offends a religion and you’re insensitive or a bigot. De-Baptize people purposely to insult a religion and it’s all fun and humorous. These are less atheists and more religion haters with chips on their shoulders.

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  7. john personna says:

    Pascal’s Wager FAIL!

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  8. floyd says:

    Just more hot air from fools with a hell of an attitude!
    Gee …what are the green types going to think about the waste of electricity and the effect on global warming?
    What next… the feeding of communion crackers to Vegans, served with the milk of human kindness and a little red wine… how subversive?
    This practice will surely stop if they pass cap-n-trade!… or was that cap-n-morgan?
    I say get the 911 terrorists to use their razor knives to uncircumcise them!
    But really…. C’mon, there’s no such thing as American Atheists.

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  9. G.A.Phillips says:

    I had heard of it, lol…..I’m just wondering how many of you commenter’s have done it:)

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  10. @floyd, why do you assume that atheists are also environmentalists and/or liberals? I can assure you that the only thing atheists agree on as a group is that there are likely no supernatural entities. Not much else and certainly not politics.

    And yes, there is such a thing as American Atheists. It’s a corporation, with its own website.

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  11. Tano says:

    “De-Baptize people purposely to insult a religion and it’s all fun and humorous.”

    You have no idea what the motivation of these people is. They were all baptized themselves, so they have every right to make fun of their own experience.

    I sense that we as a nation are overrun with outrage junkies – wide-eyed, humorless people who need to milk every event that passes before their eyes for maximum effect. They drive the agenda of our public discourse, and are boring as hell.

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  12. floyd says:

    TPlawyer;
    1] Why did you assume such an assumption on my part… just an assumption to have something to assume…I assume?

    2] Man…. the last sentence of that comment REALLY went over your head, and you know what they say about a joke which must be explained…..

    3] Not “likely” or they would be agnostics …. wouldn’t they? [LOL]

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  13. PD Shaw says:

    Like all religions that I don’t necessarily believe in, with their strange beliefs, rites and rituals of passage, I respect the right of the atheist to practice their religion. (Or as pointed out above, a deviant sect of atheism that embraces the same group-think and theist envy)

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  14. sam says:

    “Or as pointed out above, a deviant sect of atheism that embraces the same group-think and theist envy”

    “Theist envy,” heh.

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  15. Drew says:

    That they allocate their precious time on earth to such silliness is, well, very weird.

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  16. alcoholic anomalous says:

    Pro Tip – the Onion is not a source of ‘real news’.

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  17. Franklin says:

    “Theist envy,” heh.

    I would have missed that, thanks.

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  18. Sandra says:

    “Baptism means nothing to these people, but they think this is amusing and/or irritating to Christians.”

    I’ve always held that “Atheism” is a real religion, as real as being Christian, Orthodox, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim,Hindu, Buddhist or other religion adherent is practicing a REAL religion.

    In fact, contrary to the United States Constitution, the “State” religion is Atheism. But amazingly the Atheist’s “non-belief’ is in the Christian/Orthodox/Catholic (an sometimes but not always Jewish) God, not anyone else’s cosmic-worldview. They do not protest or mock Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or any Animal-Shamanistic rites and rituals.

    I see no protests about “Percy and the Lightning Thief,” or about “Clash of the Titans” both are movies based upon the ancient religions of the peoples that lived around the Mediterranean Sea.

    Will there be protests about the movie “Thor,” (one of the Norse primary deities) or what about the Western bastardization of ancient Chinese history and mocking their beliefs and their Gods and Goddesses?

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  19. qtip says:

    >I’ve always held that “Atheism” is a real religion, as real as being Christian,
    > Orthodox, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim,Hindu, Buddhist or other religion
    > adherent is practicing a REAL religion.

    Atheism isn’t faith-based, it’s evidence-based. The key thing that makes a religion a religion is belief in the supernatural, right? That’s completely missing from atheism.

    I’m sure if you look hard enough, you will find some parallels between religions and atheist groups. But you could also find many of those same parallels between religions and a political party.

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  20. sam says:

    Not that I have a horse in this race, but “Atheism isn’t faith-based, it’s evidence-based.” Uh, absence of evidence (the atheist position re the theist) doesn’t imply evidence of absence.

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  21. qtip says:

    >absence of evidence (the atheist position re the theist) doesn’t imply evidence of absence

    I would say it does in fact ‘imply’ it but that it does not ‘prove’ it.

    The fact that there is absolutely no real, hard evidence for the existence of god, has zero weight with you?

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  22. [...] UPDATE: James Joyner [...]

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  23. floyd says:

    Qtip;
    That last line of yours is hilarious! [LOL]

    Sam ;
    Sure you do …. White , red, black and pale!

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  24. qtip says:

    > Qtip;That last line of yours is hilarious! [LOL]

    And your comment makes no sense whatsoever. Care to elaborate?

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  25. floyd says:

    Qtip;
    No

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