Christening help for the nonreligious

(13 Posts)
photographerlady Wed 23-Jan-13 15:27:11

Hi, to cut right to it my FIL has asked to me to get our baby christened. He knows both his son and I are nonreligious but every time I see him now he says... Please do this for us.

When booking a christening I am unsure how much the Church of England pastor is going to ask. Would you suggest I try and get my FIL to book it or just be honest with the church that we do not believe in their faith but doing this for family?

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 23-Jan-13 15:41:49

Why on earth would you go ahead and have your child christened into a faith you don't believe in? I would have thought the correct course of action would be to say to fil 'we respect your beliefs but please also respect our right to bring our child up as we chose', or say you would like your child to decide what is right for them when they are old enough. Please don't feel emotionally blackmailed into doing this if you don't want to.

photographerlady Wed 23-Jan-13 15:59:11

my FIL is 80, he doesn't understand these things and my post is not about him as he keeps asking and we decided we do it for him, the post is more about how to go ahead and sort out the details. smile

MrsBungleBear Wed 23-Jan-13 16:04:50

It is a bit of a strange thing to do if you are not at all religious. The christenings I have been to - the parents and god parents have to say in front of the congregation that they will bring the child up with god in their lives. If that is not true, it seems a bit pointless and lying in public

I expect you would just phone the Minister and ask him or her how you arrange it.

getoffthecoffeetable Wed 23-Jan-13 16:08:27

You could have a naming day and a blessing as a compromise and tell FIL that you'd like DC to make up their own mind about being baptised later on in their life? The priest should be able to explain all this to you.

photographerlady Wed 23-Jan-13 16:11:48

Thanks will do MrsBungleBear - tbh I like to talk my FIL into doing the Christening if he wants it so bad. He knows that both of us do not believe but insists on it.

MrsBungleBear Wed 23-Jan-13 16:19:18

Would your FIL be happy, maybe, with a private blessing by the Minister? I know someone who had their baby blessed but not a full christening in public. That way FIL will be happy the baby has had a religious blessing and you won't have to do the whole christening thing?

I do understand the pressure. When my granny gave birth to my mum at home my mum was very ill. Granny wouldn;t let them take mum to the hospital until the Minister had been to christen her as she was scared that if she died she would not get into heaven without being christened sad This was in the 50's though.

townbuiltonahill Thu 24-Jan-13 00:10:38

Very laudable motive. A very difficult question.

You do have to make a declaration of faith and take vows 'before God' and before the church congregation. Our DCs grew up in churches where adult baptism (by immersion) was the norm; so we had a 'thanksgiving' service soon after they were born, where there was a blessing. I can't recall making any vows then. Now we worship with an Anglican congregation so I recognise the issue you face.

Someone will probably shoot me down for this, but I would say:

Go to the preparation classes with the Vicar/Priest but make your personal position clear. It is about the child and not the parents in the end; you do not know how the child will decide when they reach years of maturity, but I'd have thought it would be reasonable to make a commitment to ensure that they are brought up to at least understand what 'church' and Christianity is about, as well as being made aware of the alternatives (such as your own views). The church congregation also make vows; this means that they may help by making Sunday School / holiday clubs / cubs / brownies etc available.

Or (very radical thought indeed!) , if FIL is a 'believer' perhaps he could present the child and take the vows, with you on the sidelines.

(Well, that should guarantee my excommunication - from MN at least!)

Being 'christened' is not a passport to Heaven, though!

I know a vicar who does a baby-blessing for just such situations. She understands that many parents want to do something loosely Christian without a full-on baptism. Maybe you could have a word with our local vicar and see if this is something they can offer?

Alternatively you could just had a private naming/blessing ceremony. I've done a few secular naming ceremonies in the past.

In my experience, most CofE churches will expect you (both parents) to come along to one or more meetings before the planned baptism to talk about what it means, why you want to do it, why the church thinks it is important etc. It's not something that you just book, turn up on the day, and then forget about. Or at least churches don't want it to be that.

You are agreeing to raise your child in the Christian faith, with an aim of getting him/her to decide to be confirmed when old enough. You have to stand up in front of the vicar, the godparents, and usually the whole congergation and say things about believing in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and raising your child to do the same.

Your FIL is being unreasonable in asking you to stand and lie in front of everyone, when you have no intention of raising the child as a believer. If he genuinely plans to do that, and you're ok with it, then he could stand there and say those things and you just stand there being silently supportive of his intentions.

Otherwise I would definitely say go for a blessing/thanksgiving service instead that way the vicar will just say things about how great the birth of a baby is, and say prayers for you and baby, without you having to lie about what you are doing.

Startail Thu 24-Jan-13 12:41:00

We had a lovely blessing for DD1.

DH and his family of CofE me and my family are Athiests.

DH's family's vicar was lovely and knew my stand on these things (after all he had married us several years before).

He had been trying for years to get people to understand that Christing should be taken seriously and people shouldn't make the vows and then never enter a church again.

Therefore he offered to bless DD1 on Easter Sunday in the hope that a lot of people would see there is an alternative.

I wish I had a copy of the prayer he used, because it was beautiful.
It allowed those family members for whom it mattered to say thanks to God for her safe birth and didn't require any promises for the future.

If you google you should find the church made blessings like this official about 12 years ago (DD's was a couple of years earlier which is why the date amused me).

sashh Fri 25-Jan-13 04:59:06

You can do it yourself. Anyone can do it.

Why not have FIL come round with a few other relatives and let him do it.

The C of E thanksgiving service is a really nice one. There is space to say thank you for the birth of your wonderful child and there is publically speak the name of the baby/child and make it a naming ceremony.

What I really like about the service, as someone who puts it together, is that there is a section where a gift can be given. Spending time with a family and working out what was special in their childhoods and finding a way of passing on that gift to their new baby is a real privilidge. It can be profoundly moving.

It sounds like there is something that FiL wants to give to your child. It may be a gift of faith. Maybe he could find a really nice colourful book of Bible stories to give to your little one in the thanksgiving service and this could symbolise his love, care and hope for faith but does not involve you and your DH in promises in the baptism service that you cannot, with integrity, make.

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