A priest prepares for a baptism.

A priest prepares for a baptism. Photo courtesy of DainaFalk via Shutterstock

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) The Church of England has been accused of “dumbing down” the baptism service following the introduction of an alternative liturgy in which parents and godparents need not repent of their “sins” or reject “the devil.”

In the traditional version of the service, parents and godparents are asked: “Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?” and “Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbor?”

In the alternative version, now being tested in 400 churches, parents are instead asked to “reject evil and all its many forms and all its empty promises.”

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali said the new service is part of the “constant dumbing down of Christian teaching.”

“It is best to call a halt to this well-meant effort before it further reduces the fullness of the Church’s faith to easily swallowed sound bites,” said Nazir-Ali.

A limited trial aimed at making the baptism service more acceptable to people who do not believe in a physical devil, sin or the need to repent was approved by the church’s governing body, the General Synod, at the end of 2012.

It followed a request from clergy in Liverpool that the baptism service should be held in culturally appropriate and accessible language.

The trial version ends at Easter (April 20); the alternative texts have no formal status until they are approved by the General Synod.



  1. Makes sense. Sin is a private matter. Crimes should be handled by public authorities. Hell and the devil are left-overs from ancient mythology. It’s about time that we catch up with advanced knowledge and thought, even in religion. Especially in religion.

  2. For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled;  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

    • This was the church founded because the King wanted to divorce his wife in order to bear a son and his brother-in law was trying to prevent it by holding the Pope hostage.

      Any pretensions of high minded nobility and tradition went right out the window at inception. If they want to drop Satan from their baptism, who is anyone to judge?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.