It is not uncommon for people to leave their church for one reason or another, but now the exodus is becoming official by people going to great lengths to be "de-baptized," and this has church officials very concerned.
The Voice of America reports Catholic and Protestant officials in Europe, where this seems to be happening the most, are in crisis mode.
There are no official statistics, but experts and activists count the numbers of those seeking de-baptism in the tens of thousands, and websites offering informal "de-baptism" certificates have mushroomed.
Most people blame it on priest sex scandals.
"I think what sparked the real desire of people to leave the church, particularly the Catholic church, were the huge child-abuse scandals that revolted so many people [that] they no longer wanted to be associated with it," said Terry Sanderson, head of the National Secular Society in Britain. "That's when people started to leave in large numbers."
His society has an unofficial "de-baptism certificate" on its website -- it has been downloaded more than 100,000 times.
"It was a joke to begin with, but now it has taken on a new significance because there are so many people who are anxious to leave the church that they are actually taking it seriously now, and they want some way to make their break with the church formal," he says. "Often the church won't acknowledge their desire to leave.
In Germany, people don't have to go on a website to announce their split -- they can just opt of paying state church taxes. A record 181,000 Catholics did that in 2011.
"They are thinking about leaving the church and there might be one special event, like the pedophilia crisis, like a [conservative] announcement by the pope, and then they decide now is the time to go," said Christian Weisner, a spokesman for the international grassroots We Are Church movement.