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to have my DS christened?

(100 Posts)
ChampagneTastes Wed 17-Dec-14 19:56:00

I'd be really interested in responses from active Christians (if you know what I mean). Myself and my husband are both "culturally" Christian. We both were christened ourselves, married in a church and know a smattering of Bible stories. Neither of us are religious at all. I am agnostic and DH is firmly atheist.

We married in church because we both felt that the ceremony was a reflection of our culture and I felt that the religious aspect made it more formal and serious (NB: that's just for us; I completely respect other people who choose a non-religious ceremony).

DS is now 2. We weren't going to get him Christened because we felt that (a) it would be a bit hypocritical and (b) we didn't want to bind him to a faith he may not wish to be a part of. However, recently various friends have got married in churches and become Godparents and it has been pointed out that they can only do that because they have been Christened. I also want DS to feel part of a culture, even if he chooses to reject it later. Finally, and this is HONESTLY not the most pressing reason but it is a reason; the overscribed school that I'd like him to go to is, obviously, C of E. I have no idea if being Christened will make a difference to him getting in or not but I can't help but feel that if he did get in, he would be more a part of the community if he was Christened.

So: am I an appalling cynic and hypocrite if I do this? If I am, does it matter? I'm generally of the view that if there is a God he has better things to do with his time than worry about this sort of thing but I also don't want to make a mockery of the process by not doing it for the right reasons.

Anyway, flame away. I will try to listen to responses without getting all defensive and running away.

BuilderMammy Wed 17-Dec-14 19:58:58

Sorry, I'd say yes to you being an appalling cynic and hypocrite.

As far as the cultural thing goes, he can opt in himself when he's older if that floats his boat.

It's dishonest to get him christened just to get him a school place, and thereby possibly leaving a genuinely religious child without.

ChampagneTastes Wed 17-Dec-14 20:02:48

Honestly BuilderMammy, as I said, it's not to GET him a school place (I have no idea if it would make any difference or not) but it may make a difference to the extent to which he can join in with the school.

If you took the school aspect out of it, would you still feel it was appalling?

Umbrelladilemma Wed 17-Dec-14 20:03:11

There is a similar thread running which will provide you with a good summary of the majority MN view on this - yes, it is hypocritical as it involves promising to God that you follow Christ and will bring your child up to do so.

In my view it plays no part at all in making your child feel part of a community. FWIW we are active members of our local CofE church and our DC feel very much part of that community and of the wider local community, however neither were christened. If you want to be part of the church/church school community then you just need to attend the church regularly, no need for a ceremony.

Finally, I think most CofE schools aren't bothered about baptism, however many will take church attendance into account. Ours requires fortnightly attendance for 2 yrs prior to the Jan application date, so if you were applying there you'd probably be too late already!

TiggerLillies Wed 17-Dec-14 20:03:17

Maybe you're time would be better spent exploring the faith for yourself?
As an 'active Christian' I'm planning to have my child dedicated so they can enjoy the pleasure of being baptised by their own choice when they are older. Attending Church, hanging out with Christian friends, praying, studying the Bible etc is what makes me feel part of the culture, not being baptised.

TiggerLillies Wed 17-Dec-14 20:03:39


listed Wed 17-Dec-14 20:05:44

Go for it.

It gives him options, and he can choose later on whether he continues the Christian thing or not. At least you've given him the grounding.

I think it's unlikely that a child from no religious background will ever grow up to make an informed choice about religion. They come from a place of ignorance and don't have the faculties to make a decision. Your son will at least have the basics and can choose for himself.

I would do it.

KingJoffreysHasABigWhiteBeard Wed 17-Dec-14 20:07:34


Getting married in a church and getting your child baptised when you don't believe is odd, hypocritical and really quite disrepectful and rude to the religion/people of the religion.

ChampagneTastes Wed 17-Dec-14 20:09:04

Thanks TiggerLillies. I see your point. Sorry, haven't seen the other thread. When I talk about the whole "cultural" thing I do mean living a life in a Christian way and with Christian values it's just neither myself nor my husband are convinced by the whole God thing. (I am hearing myself talking and realising how ridiculous I sound). Also, I'm concerned that he grows up knowing the Christian stories. I'm an historian and it's such an intrinsic part of our past that you can't fully understand it without having that knowledge. Of course I could just pass it on myself but I'm also conscious that I would pass it on with the "some people believe" caveat rather than him being able to engage with the religion with someone who DOES have faith.

To some extent I worry that I'm denying him the experience of faith because I'll never be able to give him that no matter how many Bible stories I read him.

AnnaBegins Wed 17-Dec-14 20:09:08

Hmm, tough one, as I am usually of the opinion that parish churches are there for the community whenever the community need them.

However I don't really agree with baptising children, as you can get baptised at any age when you've made your own choice. So for example if your child was asked to be a god parent as an adult they could make the decision to be baptised themselves as an adult before becoming a godparent.

As there's no cut off point for baptism, except for school places, I wouldn't do it in your position as it would have no significance unless you are planning to bring him up in the faith or bring him to church to allow the community to do so. You do have to make promises to do so as part of the service.

Could you not have a welcome to the community/family/village/whatever party instead? Or appoint guardians in your will if you want to honour certain friends with a role similar to god parent?

Hatespiders Wed 17-Dec-14 20:09:13

Well, you say your dh is an atheist, you're an agnostic and neither of you is religious at all. At a Christening, you/the godparent/s have responses to make during the service, indicating your belief in Christ and your intention to renounce the Devil and all his works and so on. I'd say the whole thing would be a bit of a mockery if you believe no such thing.
Baptism isn't just a 'cultural' ceremony. It's a deeply religious act on behalf of your child. However, Jesus said to let the little children come to Him. I wonder if deep down you do have some faith? If so, then trust in God and have your little one baptised as a sincere gesture.
Maybe if you had a talk with the priest/vicar/rector of your local church and seek some advice?
(I'm a practising communicant member of the C of E)

ErrolTheDragon Wed 17-Dec-14 20:10:02

I'm pretty sure there's nothing in entry requirements or activities at a CofE school which would require the child to have been christened. For one thing they usually have high priority for children whose families attend churches which are part of 'Churches Together' which includes Baptists - they don't do child baptism.

If your child wants to become a Christian, all denominations afaik (certainly the Protestant ones) allow non-infant baptism.

HermioneWeasley Wed 17-Dec-14 20:11:45

You don't need to baptise your child for them to know bible stories. We are atheists and the kids get taught plenty of religious nonsense at their (allegedly secular) school.

Problem solved!

TiggerLillies Wed 17-Dec-14 20:15:43

You could always send him to Sunday school or a church youth club. Yes to chatting to the vicar, they would be delighted to chat to you. Or how about looking for volunteering opportunities that fit in with your family's values? Being a Christian (I believe) is about serving others as well as loving God, so volunteering could be ideal.

ChampagneTastes Wed 17-Dec-14 20:17:05

I shouldn't have mentioned the school thing at all should I? Honestly, I am NOT PROPOSING TO DO IT FOR A SCHOOL PLACE! Honest.

Hatespiders I was very committed when I was young and then became quite aggressively atheist in my twenties. But I do have moments when I believe (usually when I want something - cynical until the last you see!) I occasionally want to get involved or attend church but then I get all angry about how long it's taken to get women bishops and I go off the idea again.

The details of what the Christening service actually says is helpful. I can't promise to bring him to church every week or anything like that and it sounds like lots of people would find it quite offensive if someone Christened their child when they didn't have faith themselves. That's not what I want. I guess DS wouldn't suffer as such if we didn't do it - would he?

Umbrelladilemma Wed 17-Dec-14 20:17:40

Yes, tiggerlillies, you found similar to us - we chose not to have our children baptised as babies precisely because our faith is real and important to us so we'd prefer them to make their own minds up at an age at which it is meaningful.

OP, you do know that the baptism ceremony doesn't give your DC an automatic understanding of bible stories, don't you?? If it is that side of it that you are interested in, the best thing would be to go to a church regularly, send your DS to a Sunday school group, and then see how you feel once you have learnt a bit more yourself.

ReallyTired Wed 17-Dec-14 20:18:39

I think that there are a lot of agnostic people who get their children baptised. I don't think there are many people who have 100% faith. Are you prepared to keep the promises and (abait loosely) bring your child up as a christian? Infant baptism does not commit a baby to anything, but the parents do make a commitment.

You do not have to be christened or even a christian to get married in a church. Legally you have the right to get married in your local parish church whatever your religion.

Being christened means you can be on the electoral roll of any church in the UK by attending for six months. Possibly gives you a greater choice of church to get married in. However if you don't attend church and your parents do not have a connection to any particular church then you can only get married in your local or the church you were christened in.

The rules are more relaxed than when I got married.

elliejjtiny Wed 17-Dec-14 20:19:36

I wouldn't do it. I was baptised c of e but my DH wasn't and neither were the dc's. That has not stopped DH and I getting married in a c of e church or the dc going to a c of e school and participating fully.

EmbarrassedPossessed Wed 17-Dec-14 20:20:28

I am not a christian, but surely any reasonable christian group would not exclude someone because they aren't christened? I thought a lot of the point of believing in christianity is to be loving and forgiving of other people?

ReallyTired Wed 17-Dec-14 20:22:44

Not being baptised is not a sin. My husband was baptised at the age of 43, after attending church for 10 years.

If you feel uncomfortable with a baptism you could always have a service of thanksgiving.

bunchoffives Wed 17-Dec-14 20:25:48

Just do it OP. 'Suffer the little children to come unto me'.

God will welcome your precious DC no matter what your doubts. Go for it.

soverylucky Wed 17-Dec-14 20:26:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hatespiders Wed 17-Dec-14 20:26:54

If you have moments when you believe, then perhaps you should go for it regarding baptism? To have faith 'usually when you want something' is nevertheless faith. I wouldn't find such a tentative approach offensive.

Your son would certainly not suffer if he wasn't baptised, but I get the feeling you're actually drawn to some kind of religious affirmation for him.
I do think a chat with a vicar would help you to think further on this.

There are a few points about the Church that I get miffed about too, but that doesn't stop me going along and feeling a bit closer to God while there.

CaulkheadUpNorth Wed 17-Dec-14 20:27:49

Active Christian, employed children's worker at the church.

It will completely depend on the the church/priest. Some will want you to come to church for 3 or 6 months, attend baptism prep or similar and meet with te godparents. Others will meet with you once and then do the baptism. There is also everything in between.

We offer dedications and thanksgiving for people who want to mark the occasion/dedicate the child to God/be thankful for the child etc. some people choose that so that they don't have to make the baptism promises or so the child can make them if they chose to.

Sirzy Wed 17-Dec-14 20:28:05

Personally I don't understand why someone would have their child welcomed into a faith they don't believe in. But many people do it, it's not something I would do but each to their own.

I am Christian so had ds baptised as that is part of my faith and I am raising him as Christian until he is old enough to make his own decision with regards religion. I wouldn't have had him welcomed to any other religion and i wouldn't have been able to support/guide in that religion. If he chooses a different (or no) faith for himself when older that is perfectly fine and I would fully support that decision

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