Church of England casts ‘devil’ from baptism service



The Church of England approved a new baptism service on Sunday with no mention of the devil in an attempt to make the ceremony more accessible.

The simplified wording was written after priests said they often performed the ceremony for families who had little experience of church, and that the traditional service was unnecessarily complex.

In it, parents are asked whether they “reject the devil and all rebellion against God”, “renounce the deceit and corruption of evil” and “repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour” before water is sprinkled or splashed on the new member as a symbol of entry into the Church.

The new version, available as an alternative, simply asks whether they will “turn away from sin” and “reject evil”.

The simplified wording was overwhelmingly approved at a meeting of the General Synod on Sunday, at which bishops and representatives of the clergy and churchgoers vote on Church legislation.

The Bishop of Sodor and Man, Robert Paterson, denied that the service had been watered down.

“We all know that for many people, the devil has been turned into a cartoon-like character of no particular malevolence,” he said.

“The problem is helping people with little doctrinal appreciation to understand what we mean by affirming that the devil is a defeated power.”

Monday’s Synod session will see attendees vote on a historic reform project that could allow the ordination of women priests.