The process of unbaptism is becoming more popular—you may have heard of it before, or even been invited to an unbaptism party or ceremony. For many people this brings up a few important questions: What exactly is an unbaptism? Why would someone choose to have it done? Is unbaptism just for Satanists, or can anyone be unbaptized?
First, I think we should talk about why a traditional Christian baptism is criticized by many Satanists. As I performed many unbaptisms over the last four years, I’ve learned that there are a variety of reasons that Satanists and non-Satanists alike are critical of having this ceremony performed on them in infancy. I once knew a subject who wanted to be unbaptized in large part because he was angry he had been circumcised as a baby—this was a procedure he felt violated his bodily autonomy and left him feeling resentful of the religious systems that encouraged it. Another felt that baptism had taken away his ability to choose the sort of life he wanted to live and boxed him into a religion of someone else’s choosing. Some still chose to be unbaptized even though they had never actually been baptized themselves, but felt that being raised in a Christian culture with Christian values had done lifelong damage to their mind and spirit.
As we can see, it’s not merely that this is a Christian practice and that many Satanists are explicitly critical of Christianity, but the fact that baptism is done when a child is so young that they cannot understand or consent to religious practices – especially one that is supposed to have lifelong (really, eternal) consequences. Because of the emphasis on both personal development and reason in the Satanic religion, many Satanists argue that children should find their own spiritual and personal paths which they develop into adulthood. It’s not uncommon for Satanic parents to raise their children without religion, even Satanism, to the best of their ability. As a result, many Satanists are critical of religious practices that take place in early childhood before a person can make willful decisions about their spiritual life and beliefs.
The purpose of baptism is to formally admit a person into the Christian religion. Additionally, many Christians believe that a baptism will allow their child to enter heaven in the event they die before they can consciously choose Christ. Free-will is an important concept in Satanism, and being free to do what one chooses with one’s mind and body is a value held by many Satanists. As a result, baptizing a child is seen as a serious violation of those values.
Finally, for many Satanists, the process of baptism is interpreted as a symbolic subsuming of one’s will to Christ. Christ himself is famously described as a shepherd, with his followers being sheep. Many Satanists are critical of this master/slave dynamic that is inherent to Christianity. Some Satanists, like myself, have argued that teaching a child to deny their own individual power and to be submissive to another from the time they are born has lifelong, detrimental psychological effects. It is unhealthy and cruel to be taught that you are a slave and someone else is your master, that obedience to an overlord is a virtue, and that your will ought to be denied rather than developed.
Satanism is sometimes criticized by non-Satanists as being too reactive to Christianity; that is, many of our beliefs and practices are purposeful inversions of Christian thought and behavior. The Black Mass, for instance, is a dark parody of the Catholic mass meant to mock and degrade Christianity. What critics fail to understand is the reason why Satanists orient many of their practices around Christianity: Satanists create parody or ‘inverse’ versions of Christian practices in an attempt to address, define, and respond to Christian domination.
Therefore, an unbaptism is the process of ritualistically reversing or annihilating one’s previous forced baptism. An unbaptism can even be done on those who were never formally baptized but feel that the fact they were raised in a Christian culture has had a negative impact on their spiritual and psychological wellbeing. One doesn’t even need to be a Satanist in order to undergo an unbaptism, since we all, by virtue of living in a heavily Christian society, experience the oppression of Christian domination. I have unbaptized people who had no interest in becoming Satanists, but wanted to return to pre-Christian, indigenous religions; the unbaptism merely facilitated this spiritual and psychological transformation for them.
Unbaptism itself is a fairly new practice for Satanists. The term itself has been bandied about capering atheists, even Bill Maher, but unbaptisms really entered the Satanic mainstream in 2015 with a ceremony by Jex Blackmore in Detroit.
In her ceremony, participants “extinguished baptismal water into fire when called to “cast your chains into the dust of hell.” Participants were given an apple by a man and woman adorned with live snakes and prompted to “savor the fruit of knowledge and disobedience.”1 Here we see an example of Satanists taking symbols used by Christians to oppress them—the apple and the serpent—and reappropriating them for their own spiritual and psychological liberation.
While there have been several interpretations of unbaptism since then, the practice is largely unwritten about and undocumented. It is incredibly important for us to develop this practice specifically, since the process of baptism is one of the first instances of religious domination we experience and lasts with us our entire lifetimes. Satanists and non-Satanists alike want and need a way to formally reject a forced Christian upbringing. Consider this a challenge to Satanists to begin formally documenting their unbaptism ceremonies so others can utilize them and be inspired to create their own.