When people ask you about your religion at parties, you refer to yourself as a "recovering Catholic," but you never gave your baptism or confirmation much thought beyond that. Now, though, you've had it. You're tired of waiting for Pope Ratzi to hang up his funny- shaped hat, and you're tired of being associated with the moral monstrosity that is the Catholic Church. You need to excommunicate yourself! It's a relatively easy thing to do, and though the Catholic Church still considers excommunicated people to be Catholics—albeit of the "unforgiven" variety—you can at least take comfort that you've removed yourself as far as humanly possible from an organization you detest.

Here's all you have to do: Send a letter to the parish in which you were baptized. In the letter, open with a statement that you are of sound mind and body. List the places where you were baptized, confirmed, and (if you attended Catholic school) educated. It helps if you have exact dates. Then give the reasons why you're withdrawing from the church. Don't forget to include personal details: If you're gay and out, tell the church. If you're an atheist, be proud. Explain why you don't want to be a member anymore in as much detail as possible.

According to the information provided by the Atheist Foundation (www.atheistfoundation.org.au/articles/easy-steps-excommunication), the easiest of the nine excommunication canons (we don't recommend most of the others, which include physically attacking the pope or desecrating a host) is canon 1364, section 1, which covers "apostasy, heresy, or schism." In theory, you will be automatically excommunicated if you embrace another religion or belief system such as Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, or secular humanism. (A great, but lengthy, sample request for Catholic excommunication, including all the relevant Catholic laws, is available for you to modify at www.43things.com/entries/view/4412666.)

Unfortunately, it might not be that simple: The church is reportedly stingy with its excommunications, and it may take several attempts before it'll go through with it. As always when dealing with cheap customer-service scams, the best advice is to begin politely with a letter and then work your way up to firm, insistent phone calls. And a little public badgering never hurt, either: Forward your correspondence to local news outlets or publish them yourself on a blog. Eventually, the church will understand that you're not going to stop and it'll approve your request, whereupon you will join the proud ranks of the excommunicated, alongside historical figures such as Fidel Castro, Napoleon I, Martin Luther, and every Catholic who practiced Freemasonry during the 18th century. Wash that blood from your hands! recommended