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to be a bit embarrassed about having a christening?

(79 Posts)
biggerquestions Thu 20-Mar-14 23:20:06

We are planning a christening for our new baby. DP wants to do it as he's " a traditionalist" - he's also an atheist. Although he does sometimes go to our local church and sometimes even enjoys it - the sermons, the community. I am not committed enough to be an atheist, I can't bring myself to say there is no God, as I don't know. But I don't believe in it in a 'literal' sense. I go to our local church 1-2 times a month, sometimes less, sometimes more. I've been going more since I had children ( no not just for schools!) I enjoy the services, the sense of community, the time out from the general chaos of life. Gives me a chance to slow down and think about life and how I behave etc. I like the vicar, he knows my name. I realise that if I was born somewhere else or to other parents I could just as easily be going to a synagogue, a temple or a mosque. I don't think Christianity is necessarily the 'right religion' any more than the others. But 'church' is so much more than having to have a literal 100% belief in something that was probably a manmade constuct.

Anyway..... really want to do something special for new baby and christening seems obvious choice. We are regulars at the church so why not? I'm being a bit of a hypocrite if I take the vows absolutely literally but I don't feel I'm disrespecting the church or anyone's faith because I have a big love of the church, particularly our one... I"m just not exactly a Christian. The thing is most of my friends are staunch atheists and christenings don't seem as common anymore ie they are not just 'the done thing'. I'm not sure how to explain why we are doing it to my friends.. it's not like I can say " Because I believe all this stuff and I"m a Christian".
Have looked into Thanksgiving service or Naming Ceremony but they have been dismissed for various reasons. I don't want to abandon idea altogether - can't I just have one out of tradition? Or is that really bad? Am I right to be embarrassed?
Sorry for ramble... I"m tying myself up in knots about this.

chattychattyboomba Thu 20-Mar-14 23:30:59

Why do you have to explain it to anyone. Just say, because it's what we want. End of.
We had DD dedicated. It's a little different to a christening in that, we are dedicating her to God's safe keeping, and saying that we will do our best to set a good example, and then when she is old enough to choose whether or not she wants to be a Christian she can choose to be baptised or what have you.
I don't think Christianity is an exclusive religion. In fact it's the opposite. If you feel it's a positive thing for your baby then go for it. Anything that encourages a positive life, community, upbringing etc can't be bad can it?

RandomInternetStranger Thu 20-Mar-14 23:33:09

I'm a very hardened vocal atheist and absolutely can't stand organised religion with a passion. However I had DD Christened. Her father & his family were very strict Christians and my family like to make believe they are Christians & Catholics, the school I wanted her to go to was Christian and if one day she wanted to marry in a church or be a godmother she had the option. My friends who knew me knew my reasons. My Christian friends didn't mind as they accepted her paternal family were Christian, my atheist friends didn't mind as, like me they saw it as biting tongues for the service, making life easier in the future and having a party to introduce DD to the family, and my Jewish & Muslim friends viewed it as a cultural thing and the same way as my atheist friends. And I would go to a Christening, bah mitzvah or whatever to support my friends even if it's not my religion.

With this one I'm not sure what I'll do. I'm single now so no need to appease the father, I don't really care what my family want and wouldn't do it to appease them as they only have a loose paying interest in religion when it suits them and this one won't be going to that school so that's not an issue now either. But I would still want it to have the option to be a good patent or may in a church if they wanted to. I'm undecided.

Anyway long reply short, I wouldn't feel guilty or hypocritical. You seem far more religious than most Christians I know and actually go to church so I think you'd have every right to legitimately have a christening if you wanted. As for atheist friends if they live you they will support your choice.

Caitlin17 Thu 20-Mar-14 23:42:14

I've never believed in a god for as long as I can remember and consider myself a hard line atheist but I'm astonished at your post. I'm boggled at you saying your husband is a traditionalist and an atheist. What tradition would that be? The Grand Order of Hypocrites?

Maybe there will be posters who do hold religious beliefs who will cut you some slack but to have a christening in these circumstances is disrespectful and hypocritical. You even say yourself "It's not like I can say I believe all this stuff" It's just "stuff " to you- how insulting.

What's wrong with a naming ceremony?

EverythingCounts Thu 20-Mar-14 23:42:36

Agree with Random above. You seem to have more reason than most people. I wouldn't feel embarrassed. If friends ask why you are doing it just say it's something you and your other half wanted to do and share with the people close to them. I'd hope they wouldn't question your decision further.

RandomInternetStranger Thu 20-Mar-14 23:45:07

wow 300 typos in my post! Hoping you can see through them! Stupid predictive text on this phone!

randomfemale Thu 20-Mar-14 23:53:11

YANBU - I absolutely did not want my children baptised as Christians because I felt they should choose when they were old enough to go with whatever (or not) religion that they felt drawn to.

However acute depression (mine) and an overbearing MIL lead to them being baptised at 5 years old. I'm still fuming about it now angry

biggerquestions Fri 21-Mar-14 00:33:13

Random - sorry to hear about your depression. I am just recovering from PND. Fwiw, I don't think being baptized actually makes you a Christian. That will always be their own choice and they can still choose whatever they want to believe, if anything.
Caitlin 17- trad in the sense that everyone used to do it as a cultural custom whether or not they truly 'believed'. Amongst his friends ( posh public school types) it's still more common.
I actually don't think I'm being that hypocritical- I do actually go to church and enjoy it. Even some ministers don't believe in a literal God - seriously!- check out the Sea of Faith. Nothing wrong with naming ceremony but not right for us.
Thanks for opinions.

biggerquestions Fri 21-Mar-14 00:34:48

Two randoms! RandomIS - thanks :-)

AcrossthePond55 Fri 21-Mar-14 00:36:14

A christening is held to welcome the child into Christ's faith and Christ's church. And a solemn promise to raise the child as a Christian. If a parent isn't ready to promise that, then the child should not be christened. Yes, I'm a Christian and I think it's wrong, hypocritical, and offensive in the extreme to go through any ceremony that is meant to include you/your child in any faith or meant to espouse any belief (or non-belief) if you do not truly mean to abide by the meaning of the ceremony. It would be equally wrong for me to have my child go through a Jewish, Hindu, or Pagan ceremony if I intended to raise them a Christian. These ceremonies echo deeply held beliefs and it would make a mockery of them.

Flame away.

AgaPanthers Fri 21-Mar-14 00:40:42

I am a bit confused. You are not exactly a Christian, and you think it is not really any more valid than any other religion, your husband is an atheist, but you go to church almost weekly. Do I take it there are some church school supplementary forms to be signed in the future?

RandomInternetStranger Fri 21-Mar-14 00:47:45

Across out of interest, in my (old) situ, I'm very atheist, I mean to the extent I actually get very offended when people discuss their belief at all and have had big rows with the ex in laws for constantly sending their religious passages and cards to us and pushing their beliefs on us, I really really hate religion. ExDH was very Christian - father is a church elder, uncle's a preacher, best friend is a vicar, lived in a Christian house at Uni, mother works for Christian Aid blah blah, all very religious. DD was Christened as explained below and since then I have actively argued her religious education with her, so when she has come home stating some bible story as fact I have told her straight, it's not fact at all, in fact it couldn't be fact because science states this, it's just a story some people like to believe without proof. I don't believe it at all. Jews believe this, Muslims believe that, Buddhists believe this, you decide for yourself what you believe. Usually she takes the logical scientific atheist path but not always and that's up to her. Is it still hypocritical to Christen her if only one parent is a (very heavy) Christian? Honestly interested.

biggerquestions Fri 21-Mar-14 00:53:24

Acrossthepond- fair enough.( although I am not intending to Christen them and then raise them as a pagan, Jewish or Hindu iykwim). I will expose them to the Christian faith, through Sunday school and books. But I will not force them and I will tell them about the way I believe if they ask.I'll also help them explore other Faiths if they ask about them. Their Dad will prob introduce them to Richard Dawkins. But I will make sure they have a foundation stone and access to the church.

randomfemale Fri 21-Mar-14 00:54:16

Will the real random please stand up grin

Thanks BQ depression is under control, AD's are just about weaned off and all is good (and my' babies' are currently mulling over college courses)

Re your comment about them not necessarily being Christian even though they have been baptised as such - I am not a religious person and assumed that 'that was it' as far as my daughters were concerned.

I know as adults they can follow whichever path they choose but it still rankles that my thoughts/beliefs were trampled over and they now have a specific religious stamp IYSWIM

DomesticDisgrace Fri 21-Mar-14 00:55:20

I'm a staunch atheist but I'll have to get my almost 3yr old DD christened to get her into a half decent school in the area. I'm pretty mortified and feel very hypocritical but I have to do what I have to do for her education. It doesn't help that my country (Ireland) is backwards regarding religion in schools.

biggerquestions Fri 21-Mar-14 01:03:58

My vicar said to me "infant baptism is the Christian equivalent of circumcision". I'm not sure if this is quite right! But wondering if Jewish people who aren't particularly religious still do this anyway..?

randomfemale Fri 21-Mar-14 01:13:13

Well it meant a lot to me so much that I was totally opposed to it but anyway - I was over-ruled, MIL has her nice huge portrait on the wall of her three grand daughters being christened at the same time so all is well hmm

hunreeeal Fri 21-Mar-14 01:13:54

It sounds to me as if you're an agnostic, with liberal Christian or multi-faith leanings! I think even if there's the possibility of something there in your mind, then that's enough. "Faith the size of a mustard seed" and all that. Personally I'd say a staunch, cynical atheist shouldn't go for a church Christening, because it makes a mockery of it all and they'd be making empty promises. I'm also not one for tradition alone as a reason for going through religious ceremonies. But as you're genuinely open to exploring church and faith then that sounds a good reason to go ahead with the christening smile

DrewsWife Fri 21-Mar-14 01:22:41

I'm Salvation Army. We dedicate our children to God. If you want to christen/baptise/dedicate your child then do it. It won't break the baby or you guys xx. The church won't fall down either and no one will be offended. smile

EurotrashGirl Fri 21-Mar-14 01:40:07

I agree with AcrossthePond

AcrossthePond55 Fri 21-Mar-14 01:43:21

Panthers- Imho,it would be hypocritical of the atheist parent to promise, before the God they don't believe in, that they would raise the child Christian when they have no intention of doing so. It would NOT be hypocritical of the Christian parent to have the child christened if they sincerely intend to raise that child as a Christian. Then I guess the parents would have to 'duke it out' afterwards grin. As medieval as it probably sounds, it's why I would never have married a person of a different faith. Protestant, Catholic, that I could have dealt with. But it was important to me that my children be raised as Christians.

bigger- I salute you. I agree that children should know and understand about different faiths. I made sure my own children knew and respected others of different (or no) faiths. Infant baptism = circumcision (technically the Jewish 'bris') refers, I believe, to the fact that the child is being received into the faith, but before they are old enough to know what that means. Which is why later the child has a bar/bat mitzvah or confirmation when they are old enough to understand and agree with what being a member of their faith entails.

PunkrockerGirl Fri 21-Mar-14 06:58:56

Non-believers making promises on behalf of their children to a God they don't believe exists. I just don't get it confused Non- believers using the Church as a means to an end e.g. getting dc into preferred school. It may be legal but, IMO morally so, so wrong.

DearDinah Fri 21-Mar-14 07:09:03

I'm a christian but stopped going to church recently for various reasons, I still support it. Have your child christened pay no attention to what strangers think, if you feel it would be beneficial to your family for whatever reason go ahead. The church can be a wonderful support for families & despite what some people say they don't brainwash you, you don't have to do anything you are not comfortable with, if you feel they are, stop going! God welcomes all into his house, just some members may not, shame on them!

Waltonswatcher1 Fri 21-Mar-14 07:22:14

I am not a Christian and loathe this sort of hypocracy .
You don't need to be christened to introduce faith and the concepts into your dd life .
Total rubbish .

My kids have been given access to religion and I have always said I would be happy to take to any act of worship .

This is a school issue . You are wrapping yourselves in the cosy christmas card niceness of the event . Like so many others.

biggerquestions Fri 21-Mar-14 07:40:07

Pnkrockergirl - I think it's wrong that any parents should even have to consider compromising their integrity in this way because all the good state schools near them are faith schools. I think state funded schools should be secular and inclusive. But it can be surprising what you find you are prepared to do for your children. Having said that its not all bad for the churches. They get people through the doors and I'm sure at least a few stick around after the school papers have been signed.

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