Alternative Anglican liturgy gets the devil out of baptism. The Church of England has been accused of watering down its baptism service by introducing 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.” Former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali called the new service part of the “constant dumbing down of Christian teaching.” The church’s governing body, the general synod, approved the 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. 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 on Easter, April 20.
Satanists propose Oklahoma monument. The New York-based Satanic Temple prematurely released design plans for a Satanist monument it hopes to place on the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds. Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said he mistakenly sent the plans to the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission via email, triggering their disclosure on news and social networking sites via a press release. The group wants to erect the monument next to a depiction of the Ten Commandments that has been on the state grounds since 2012. The plans show a 7-foot statue of a seated Satan flanked by two children. The design includes two important Satanist symbols—the pentacle, located above Satan’s head, and the goat-headed baphomet. The commission has no deadline for approving or rejecting the application, and the panel imposed a moratorium on new displays last month after receiving a Hindu group’s application for a monument.
Roman Catholics decline in England and Wales. The number of Roman Catholic adherents in England and Wales fell by more than 90,000 in 2012, despite a wave of immigrants from Poland and other Eastern European countries with historically Catholic backgrounds. According to research by the Pastoral Research Centre Trust, an independent research organization, population increases, baptisms and the reception of newly confirmed and older people into the church should have added 31,873 people to the Catholic rolls in 2012. At the end of 2011, there were 4.1 million Catholics in England and Wales, but in the next 12 months it fell back to 4 million. The number of Catholics attending Mass has fallen to 858,000 in 2012, from 985,000 in 2001, suggesting only one-fifth of the Catholic population now goes to Mass.