How to Get Excommunicated

I decided around 4.35pm yesterday that it was high time I got excommunicated. I am an atheist but was baptized in the Catholic Church, and because, as Dara O’Briain once put it, Catholicism is a very sticky religion, I am still regarded by the Church as Catholic. Which irks me, even if it is only symbolic. And the only way to de-Catholic myself is to be officially excommunicated. And that’s what I’ve done. I finally, after 25 years, got my shit together and started the ball rolling on a process that will make me no longer Catholic in any way, shape or form, and (because the good old Catholic mindset never goes away) guarantees me some prime real estate in the pits of damnation. Huzzah!

Getting excommunicated is a lot harder than it seems. For the sake of public service, below you’ll find a copy of a letter I have just sent to the Bishop of East Anglia, who is apparently the only one who can eject me from the Catholic Church like a heretical bogey. I don’t know when I’ll get a response, but if you, like me, are still feeling the adhesive, guilt-ridden embrace of Catholicism, please feel free to use this letter as a guide to freeing yourself so you can live a life of secular existential despair.

You’re welcome.

Dear your holiness, the Bishop of East Anglia,

My name is Chris Waugh. I am an atheist, but it has been brought to my attention that once baptized, I am regarded as a Catholic for the remainder of my life until such a time as I am excommunicated from the Church. I was baptised in 1990 in Tooting, London. All I remember is that it was a bit cold and soggy, like a October morning, but without the poetic potential therein. Getting yourself excommunicated is a surprisingly hard thing to do, as according to canonical law, most of the reasons for being excommunicated involve being a Bishop who does something naughty, as as I don’t have time to become a Bishop (I haven’t even had the time to catch up on the Walking Dead, for goodness sake), I am left with only a few options. Firstly, according to a 1370 edict in canon law, I could assault the Pope. I’d really rather not do this as I’m a bit of a weakling and have you seen how much they charge to get into the Vatican these days? So much for blessed are the poor. My second option is to commit an act of apostasy. This is also hard to do as there is no practical guide given by the Catholic Church to how to commit apostasy (seriously, you should get on that). I sat down and listened to the album “Apostasy” by the Polish blackened-death metal band Behemoth (check it, mate, it’s brutal) but that didn’t seem to have the desired effect. So I am now obliged to write to you and inform you that I am intending to commit apostasy and that I fully appreciate that this will result in my excommunication.

According to St Jude, in the Epistle of St Jude, apostates have 18 characteristics: apostates are ungodly (vs. 4), morally perverted (vs. 4), denying Christ (vs. 4), ones who defile the flesh (vs. 8), rebellious (vs. 8), people who revile angels (vs. 8), who are ignorant about God (vs. 8), those who proclaim false visions (vs. 10), self-destructive (vs. 10), grumblers (vs. 16), fault finders (vs. 16), self-satisfying (vs. 16), people who use arrogant words and false flattery (vs. 16), mockers of God (vs. 18), those who cause divisions (vs. 19), worldly minded (vs. 19), and finally (and not surprisingly), devoid of the Spirit/unsaved (vs. 19).

I am thoroughly ungodly: I have a smaller beard than God’s, and haven’t created anything recently. The closest I get to being all knowing is stalking my University friends on Facebook and getting sad because they all make more money than me.

I am definitely morally perverted, by the Catholic church’s standards. I’m off to a gay wedding in a few weeks and it’s gonna be great.

I have denied Christ. Haven’t seen the bugger in years. He never returns my calls.

Defiling the flesh? Well, I’m having a ton of fantastic pre-marital sex, but since defiling can have several meanings, I also just got my nostril pierced, and I’m writing this while listening to death metal, which involves lots of flesh defilement.

I’m rebellious; I took my memory stick out of my computer without safely removing hardware.

I do indeed revile angels; swanky dicks. They can take their wings and piss right off.

I am completely ignorant of God. Who is he anyway? Never heard of him.

False visions? Yep, I am definitely sitting in my living room watching a bunch of dogs playing poker to the tune of Tom Waits. Honest.

Self-destruction is my middle name! I smoke, and I haven’t had my five a day yet this week.

Grumbling? Weather’s shit today. Have you seen the property prices lately? Bloody capitalists. Men are a bit crap aren’t they? Made in God’s image my soon-to-be-excommunicated arse.

I find faults all the time. My cat hasn’t done the washing up at all, the lazy bugger. I don’t care that she doesn’t have opposable thumbs, we all have to pull our weight.

Self satisfaction wise? Insert masturbation joke here.

I’m ridiculously arrogant. My hair is better than yours, and I have the sexiest ears in East Anglia. Fact. But I do love me a bit of false flattery. You’re looking great today, your holiness. Drink later, followed by snuggles and possibly more?

Mocking God, well, when I know who he is, I think he’s a bit of an underachiever. What has he accomplished? War. Famine. Katie Hopkins. What are you like, divine creator!

I love causing divisions! Which is why I have

divided this paragraph in two for no good reason other than that I sodding love divisions.

I’m worldly minded. By which I mean I have a mind and live in the world OR DO I CARTESIAN DILEMMA.

Finally, I am reasonably certain after writing this letter I am definitely not getting saved.

Jude also notes that apostates are subtle. I am stunning subtle, so subtle in fact that I did all of the above WHILE YOU WERE READING THIS LETTER. Boom.

Anyway, as you’ve probably gathered, I do not consider myself Catholic anymore, and I’d very much like you to do the same, so we can agree on something. Therefore I announce formally my retirement as a Catholic. It was alright for the first 13 years, but then I discovered evolution, communism and being nice to people who aren’t heterosexual men, so it sort of doesn’t feel right anymore. Please take me off any official rolls of Catholics, and is it possible to get a leaver’s gift? Like a gold watch to make up for all those years of unnecessary guilt?

Ta muchly, hail Satan, aren’t gays amazing, etc.

Chris Waugh

Soon to be ex-Catholic



Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and author of Understanding an Atheist. He is known for local and national secular activism and has spoken at conferences and events such as Reason Rally 2016 and the Ark Encounter Protest and Rally.

View all posts by Kevin Davis →

13 thoughts on “How to Get Excommunicated

  1. Funny letter. Sadly, excommunication only means you’ve committed a sin so bad that you can’t receive the sacraments until you repent. It doesn’t mean the Church kicks a person out, or that a person is no longer baptized or anything. There used to be a way to formally defect from the Catholic Church so they longer count people as members, but it was gotten rid of a few years ago.

  2. Sorrily, they might actually offer you up for sainthood or some-such. Wouldn’t that be sort of ironic that you are trying your darn best to get excommunicated and end up as Saint Chris, wielder and protector of wit and sarcasm?

  3. From what I understand, being ex-communicated is not such a great thing to aspire to in the Catholic line of thinking. Believe it or not, you’re still REQUIRED to go to mass, tithe, and participate in every knee-bending ritual on every “holy day” (which, according to Catholicism is darned near every day that ends in a “y”).

    The only difference between a communicant and an ex-communicant is that you can no longer eat the cracker. That is, of course, if you happen to be in a church where the priest knows your status — they’re not going to brand your forehead or anything. So, if you had a hankering for unleavened bread, you could probably pop down to the second-nearest church and munch away.

    Heck, go to an Episcopal church — they have the crackers, too, and they don’t give a shit whether you believe or not. No kidding, the last time I was in one (long story), the priest invited everyone to eat a cracker, believer or not. They even give you a sip of wine!! (Awful wine, but nonetheless, it breaks the ice as far as drinking on Sunday.)

    Good luck in your quest to get unstuck. Watch out for the Mormons, though. They like to baptize people in absentia.

  4. “Getting excommunicated is a lot harder than it seems. ”

    Did you try entering a Catholic church & urinating into the holy water? That might have done it.

    Then again, it may not… the Bible does have some passages about drinking urine & eating feces

  5. Consider this idea, if you will: we are all born with our own Authority, which is necessarily usurped by our (Ideally) loving parents until we are old enough to live on our own. We should be trained to understand this, and be taught how to exercise our Authority (and our Responsibility – that’s part of the package, Folks!) on our own. Parents’ job is to guide us through infancy and childhood into the ascendance into adulthood (adolescence), using the best information and ability they’ve got, and prepare us for self-sufficiency. But – enter Religion, and suddenly your Authority is usurped away from your parents by “the church”. Were I Catholic, I might consider a letter advising the local Bishop that I was reclaiming my personal Authority, and that I consider any signed paper-work or verbal or handshake commitment in favor of the church, to be null and void. This is one reason why the church doesn’t favor separation of church and state – they want your signature on paperwork, and your verbal or “handshake agreement”, to be legal and binding, executable in a Court of Law. As it is, they can yell and scream and threaten all they want, but they cannot enforce anything. You belong to YOU, subject, only, to the “law of the land”. Because of our individual diversities, we do need some form of government, for protection as well as control. And one, preferably one that is religiously neutral, should be enough.

  6. Many years ago, my friend Tom, told about the time he went to a priest, with his problem. He had been married, but not in the church, to a protestant, and his son was not being raised Catholic.
    “No problem!” said the priest, “It is not a valid marriage in the eyes of the church.”
    “You don’t understand,” said Tom, “I want to be excommunicated.”
    The priest was very offended and said, “Well, I think you can consider that you are.”
    Replied friend Tom, “But couldn’t you give me a certificate?”

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