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To christen your child when you do not attend church a bit showy

(178 Posts)
Illustrationaddict Wed 01-May-13 09:44:09

I struggle with the idea of christening your child if you do not regularly attend church (as in more than Christmas and a friends wedding). Got a few coming up and know the parents don't go. I am not religious, but find it strange when people who do not attend church insist on vowing to raise their child with the christian faith. I have to say I find the whole concept a bit showy, why not just be honest and throw your child a welcome to the world party? AIBU?

Umlauf Wed 01-May-13 17:54:07

well surely if the parents/godparents don't believe in God, then the solemn religious vows for them are merely pretty words, just as religious Christmas carols are merely pretty words to atheists... pot? kettle? Atheists should do neither, not pick and choose and then throw the word hypocrite around at non-practising Christians.

flowery Wed 01-May-13 18:40:32

I don't think non practising Christians are hypocrites if they christen their child, because presumably they do believe what they are saying.

And I really think most people would realise and agree that a vow you stand up and make in front of witnesses in a formal religious ceremony is more than pretty words, whether you mean it or not, and very different from joining in singing a Christmas carol.

greenfolder Wed 01-May-13 18:41:45

as an atheist i do think that some people are hypocritical, but we all are over some things.

i dont go to almost every christening i am invited to. one friend wanted me to get done myself so i could be godparent to her dcs. pointed out that this was impossible, i could not pretend something and then promise to raise her child in the faith. the fact that she didnt get it made me realise how flim flam her grasp of her professed religion is.

but all that aside, seems pretty harmless to me

PoppyWearer Wed 01-May-13 18:48:51


I was not Christened, my DH never goes to church, so we had a non-religious wedding ceremony/setting.

We held WTTW/naming parties for our DCs.

Some family members ILs raised eyebrows but so what?

I am proud that we also stayed true to ourselves and got DC1 into a non-religious school, even though it would have been easy in many respects to attend church in the hope of her going to the (very good) CofE school down the road.

But, live and let live. I'm not anti-religion by any means. I wouldn't call someone out for making different choices. It doesn't bother me, I only cared about what we chose to do.

Jestrin Wed 01-May-13 18:53:15

Well if the vicar is happy to christen them knowing the family are not churchgoers then it is down to him/her I think.

I wasn't married in a church and neither of my DC are christened. To me I would feel a hypocrite as I don't go to church.

Dontbugmemalone Wed 01-May-13 18:56:04

YANBU. However, I'm atheist and DH is RC. We have agreed to baptise our DC and give them the choice when they're old enough for the communion.

I'm not really happy about it but I've had to compromise.

Sirzy Wed 01-May-13 18:56:31

A vicar only knows what they are told though. I doubt many people say to the vicar "I'm an atheist but will you christen her so we can get her into x school/because great aunty edna wants us to"

All vicars know that there are Christians who choose not to attend church regularly. They can't test the faith of families before they agree to christen.

LimitedEditionLady Wed 01-May-13 19:24:46

I havent had my child christened. Most,probably all to be fair of our families are annoyed and go on and on about it how bad we are for not doing said she will haunt us when she dies for it?random.
We didnt do it because i will not,for anyone,stand in a place of worship that is so important to the people who attend and lie that i believe in it.i would personally feel disrespectful to the holy man,priest?i would feel like a fraud.i also believe that my child should decide what they believe,i wont tell them what is right and wrong they can learn about everything and whatever they decide i will opinion only,i respect what others believe.

LondonJax Wed 01-May-13 19:26:09

I stopped going to church when I was seven years old. DH was a member of his church's choir but gave up at thirteen and neither of us had set foot in a church since then (apart from the usual family occasions). We weren't married in church as I was divorced - first wedding wasn't a church wedding either. I considered myself a Christian in the sense of believing in God, but didn't really see why I needed to go to church to do that.

But, when DS came along and survived a heart procedure when he was a couple of weeks old, we felt we wanted to celebrate that and we honestly felt something/someone had watched over him because of the number of coincidences that had happened to save his life. I know it sounds daft, but that's what it felt like.

We spoke to our local vicar and were honest with him about the fact that we felt uncomfortable about standing up in church and pretending that we'd attend regularly in order to bring our son up 'in faith' but that we felt the need to say 'thank you' to someone (or something).

The vicar told us about a ceremony of thanksgiving and blessing which you can have in a CofE church - it's a halfway house where you have a blessing, say prayers and have hymns but without the promise to attend church or even to bring your child up in any sort of religion. Plus you could nominate special people to act as Godparents in all but name (you only have Godparents if you're Christened).

So we decided to do that. In fact we were the first in our parish to have that ceremony and the vicar asked us to do a piece about it for the parish magazine. He's done quite a few since then as it's very popular - allows for the 'show' of christening without the commitment.

We were so happy with the way the vicar helped us even though we were making no promises to him that we now go to church once a month, on family days, so that our son can make an informed decision about whether he wants to be part of the church when he grows up. If he wants to be baptised when he grows up that's fine; if it's not for him that's OK too.

I don't have a problem with people who have kids christened then never attend church (a lot of my friends have done exactly that) but there are alternatives if, like us, christening felt a step too far, too fast.

LimitedEditionLady Wed 01-May-13 19:33:08

That sounds really lovely londonjax.that sounds really nicr x

ShadowStorm Wed 01-May-13 20:23:51

I agree that it seems odd to have your child christened if you don't have a Christian faith. Especially when it just seems like an excuse for a massive party. Our old neighbours invited about over 100 people to their son's christening, and had a big party with a disco afterwards.

But when we were talking to the vicar in the run up to DS's (small) christening, he said that he was happy to christen any child, whether the parents were regular churchgoers or not. His reasoning was that if he made them feel welcome, they might enjoy the experience enough to come back to more Sunday services! And he'd be well aware of whether the parents go to church in the parish or not. It's a small congregation at our church, so it doesn't take long to get to know who all the regular and semi-regular church goers, by sight at least.

FWIW, we also have friends who attend church with their children every week, and they haven't christened their children. They said that they want the children to make that decision about whether to be christened for themselves when they're old enough.

Mosschopz Wed 01-May-13 20:54:32

I'm not particularly religious and neither is OH but we had DS christened around his second birthday. It meant something to us both on a spiritual level and then we threw a big party and all had a ball. It took everyone's mind of FIL's impending high risk cancer surgery. One or two folk disapproved I know, but didn't know our reasons and frankly I didn't bother explaining...

GalaxyDefender Wed 01-May-13 22:00:42

I'm an atheist, DP is Christian. Out of respect for his beliefs, and his family tradition, I allowed DS to be christened.
DP doesn't attend church at all, but for him it was important that DS wore the same outfit worn by his father, grandfather and great-grandfather at their christenings, in the same church that DP and his sisters were christened in.

We didn't have a big party. I am a bit hmm at people who just use it as a reason for a party, but tbh some people will use any old excuse!
Just because you don't go to church doesn't mean a christening has to be "showy". For a lot of people, Christian traditions still run strong in families even if the actual belief isn't always necessarily there.

goldenlula Wed 01-May-13 22:15:27

I am a Christian but I do not attend church. All 3 of mine are Christened but they were not big showy affairs. We had immediate family, which was our parents, siblings and nieces and nephews. Dh does have a few siblings (full, half, step) and both is parents are remarried so just having those was around 20 to 25 people, we then had 2 couples who were close friends attend with their children so roughly 30 people. I don't think that is showy and I am happy with my decision.

myhousewillneverbetidy Thu 02-May-13 02:19:05


It annoys me too. I was chatting with someone at work who was arranging her DD christening and she expressed surprise that I havent had my DD christened. I explained that as i didnt attend church on a regular basis and not 100% sure what my beliefs are that i wasnt comfortable having a religious ceremony and having to make promises wasnt sure I could keep.

She openly said she thought that was silly and that she was only doing it for the party and presents. She also was very shocked for me to point out that the term god parent actually means just that and picking people who (as she has done) state that they dont believe in god makes the whole thing a pointless exercise

ChocsAwayInMyGob Thu 02-May-13 09:04:05

When I had DS1 christened, the vicar wouldn't let anyone be a Godparent unless they had been christened. I could see his point.

ReallyTired Thu 02-May-13 09:13:22

"Well if the vicar is happy to christen them knowing the family are not churchgoers then it is down to him/her I think."

I think the priest view is that he/she is not there to judge a family or their reasons for asking for baptism.

LondonJax I think that you, your family and your priest all sound fanastic. I think a service of thanksgiving is an excellent idea. I admire your honesty and I wish that church of england would promote a service of thanksgiving more.

Any child whatever their parents' religious belief is a blessing and their entrance in to the world is something to celebrate.

Giggle78 Thu 02-May-13 09:19:56

Well I am a Christian and I go to church regularly and I did not/will not have ds christened and will not have as yet unborn child christened. I can not make a declaration of faith on their behalf. They have to do that for themselves (or not).

We did have a brilliant celebration at our church and then a party afterwards to thank God for our ds - because I truly believe that he (and new baby) are gifts from Him. Which was really fun. I plan to do this again for next child.

I can not comment on other people's level of faith but I have been to a few christenings of my friends and there is a noticeable difference in atmosphere when people believe what they are saying and those that are just saying it 'for the tradition' of the occasion. Then the atmosphere tends to be awkward and cold.

CreatureRetorts Thu 02-May-13 09:21:32


I'm not getting my DCs christened to keep the peace with family. There is no god IMO, I'm not going to pretend.

Corygal Thu 02-May-13 09:25:09

Welcome to the world parties are AWFUL. Usually nothing but cringeing poetry followed by the steely-eyed demand for the godparents' credit card.

I'd far rather have an ethical, non-commercial ceremony, C of E or otherwise.

WilsonFrickett Thu 02-May-13 10:06:41

That's complete nonsense cory. My DS naming ceremony was lovely and certainly not 'commercial'

Pootles2010 Thu 02-May-13 10:56:12

You must have knobby friends/ relatives cory, my ds's naming day was lovely grin

In what way are naming days more commercial than other ceremonies? Very odd idea. We paid £50 to registry office, then had afternoon tea with friends & family after.

Illustrationaddict Thu 02-May-13 13:58:03

Wow! There certainly are a lot of differing views out there.

I never said I totally disagree with christenings, I just don't get why people who appear to show no interest in going to church do it, and then blow the whole thing into this massive event where people fly in and you have to buy a gift and buy a whole new outfit etc. I'm NOT against genuine believers having a lovely intimate close family and friends do, or even if they have a massive do, but so long as the belief in what they are promising is real, as in they will be taking little Jimmy to church 5 or 6 times a year, as you do promise the minister and God for that matter.

In relation to Christmas, I cannot see how that is even relevant. As far as I'm aware it was originally a pagan festival of light that Christianity took on, and I'm not even sure Jesus is meant to have his real birthday in December? And what's more I don't go to church at Christmas and make promises in front of everyone I know that I will be attending church more, as I know this would be a lie.

As for my DC being in a nativity, I would be fine with that. As far as I know, and please correct me if I'm wrong, all schools have to have a religious element, be it in assembly, prayer time etc. You can of course ask that your child be excluded, but I believe in my DC deciding these things for themselves rather than me telling them what to believe. As far as I'm concerned the nativity is a story, and what's wrong with them learning about a story?

I want to teach my child to question everything then form their own views on life.

Teacherandmum Thu 13-Jun-13 17:22:48

I'm a christian and regular church go-er. I think there are lots of reasons, and I personally love it when people have their children baptised, irrespective of why....I think it's a great opportunity to be thankful for a new baby and celebrate! I don't really understand why people would be offended. I think it's quite presumptuous of us to think we know the reasons or that the parents don't believe, just because they don't go to church on a sunday.

Good reasons might be:
1) They believe in God but don't go to church.
2) They aren't sure of their own beliefs but want their child to be part of the Christian family.
3) Other members of the child's family are going to take the child to church (e.g. grandparents).
4) One of the parents is part of the wider church family e.g. Mums/Tots Church groups.

At my (CofE) church, we also have thanksgiving services if parents want to celebrate the baby's life and be thankful for the gift, without making any specific promises.

Alisvolatpropiis Thu 13-Jun-13 17:25:09


I wouldn't get married in a church either.

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