Not Me: A Symbolic Defection from the Catholic Church.

In Ireland there was a way to formally record that you were no longer a Catholic and require the church to record that fact. Over 12,000 people started this “Declaration of Defection” process. But in April 2011 the Catholic Church changed church law and removed the option to record formal defections.

Cormac Flynn, Paul Dunbar and Grainne O’Sullivan were the pioneers of who took on the church and we salute them. They closed after church law was changed to frustrate people trying to record their defection.  Read more details here. believes that if people tell the church they have defected then it should take a reality check and listen to them and correct their records. Young infants do not have a choice when they are baptised but adults have the right to set the record straight. lets you informally and symbolically leave the Catholic Church. It has no impact on the Catholic Church’s view of your religious standing but is a way to identify as not Catholic. This symbolic gesture supports the separation of church and state. It does not signify or support atheism or humanism as many religious people also support church and state separation. is maintained by Atheist Ireland an Irish advocacy group, that does not recognize church law or state submission to church law, promoting atheism and reason over superstition and supernaturalism, and an ethical, secular society where the State does not support or finance or give special treatment or privilege to any religion.


  1. Avatar
    John Reid November 09, 2014

    I have tried to extinguish my inherited membership of Roman Catholicism only to find it is no longer possible due to a change in “Canon Law”. Effectively this means that a religious organisation of which I have never expressed a desire to be a part of, is now refusing to acknowledge my request to no longer be associated with it. Even Google will acknowledge a “take down” request!

    Surely there is some facet of data protection law that can be applied here?

  2. Avatar
    Shannon October 12, 2015

    I asked about this at your last information table in Dublin but I’m not sure I spoke to anyone who knew what I was referring to (possibly my fault for not being clear or remembering the wording on this page). Is there any way to get more information about this? I’m really just curious as to what is meant by a ‘support network’, and what kind of volunteering is needed.

    Many thanks

    • Avatar
      Ashling O'Brien October 15, 2015

      Hi Shannon, this page has been updated to include information about our new campaign



  3. Avatar
    John Hamill October 15, 2015

    Hi Folks,

    You can find some information about how to defect from the Catholic Church and/or get excommunicated as an apostate here:

    This is a description of how I managed to leave the Church, even after the change in Cannon Law referred to. Let me know if you’ve any questions. It’s worth registering a “virtual defection” on too … and get your non-religious friends to do likewise! 🙂


    • Avatar
      Mary Bellew March 13, 2019

      As the law changed before my defection was complete, I’m now on a “list” of people who no longer wish to be regarded as Catholic. So I have been informed by member of archbishops staff. Will find way out yet, I hope.

  4. Avatar
    kenneth ohehir December 09, 2015

    I left the church quickly when i moved to Germany from Ireland and found out I had to pay 7% kirchensteuer (church tax) on my gross income……and guess what….if you sell your house then you have to pay 7% of the proceeds to the church also….

    • Avatar
      Lauren August 27, 2018

      Can you please go into detail on this.?

  5. Avatar
    NOEL QUINN March 17, 2018

    i wish to leave the catholic church on the grounds that i believe science has proved beyond doubt that life is just life ,and when were gone were gone, your legacy is how you behave on this planet ,and the catholic church itself has a lot to answer for.

  6. Avatar
    Edel Griffith May 16, 2018

    Can the new GDPR legislation coming into force on May 25th at least mean that I can request for the Church to no longer store my records and thus they can’t count me as a catholic.

    • Avatar
      Daniel Moggan July 01, 2019

      I have just asked the data protection officer in my archdiocese if I can do this and they’ve stated it’s not possible and they are covered not to erase the information. I’m questioning them on it.

      • Avatar
        Blacksheep Bride October 17, 2019

        Any reply after questioning them on this? I’d very much like to defect and I’m sad i didn’t think to do this before 2011. I left the church in 1987!

  7. Avatar
    Danny October 21, 2019

    Anyone have any more information on how to defect and officially leave the catholic church, im really struggling to get any information online.


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