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The resolute Catholic and the athiest

(203 Posts)
Loulouzz Tue 09-Apr-19 15:23:11

Myself and DP have come to a standstill. Very serious and talks of marriage and children are on the cards, fantastic we're both on the same page. But now the topic of religion has reared its head and we're butting heads.

I went to a CofE primary school, was christened, attended church etc but it was never really part of my home life and now mid 20s I'd say I'm an athiest, or at least agnostic. DP on the otherhand attended an all boys Catholic school, was baptised, completed holy communion and had to attend church until midteens. He's a Catholic, it makes no odds to me and I'm happy he has a faith I'm almost sad I don't but its not something I can believe in.

So now children are on the cards and he's adamant he wants them to be like him and be Catholic, including a baptism. This isn't something I'm at all comfortable with. I want my children to be presented with all the information and make a decision for themselves, not attend church into teen years and essentially become brainwashed. I'll never crap on his beliefs but I also won't teach them as fact. I've said I'd be happy enough with a christening but not under the umbrella of the Catholic Church. This feels like middleground, they're pretty much the same bar some subtle differences, one of which is that a christening is considered a naming ceremony but "In the sacrament of Baptism the baby's name is used and mentioned, however it is the rite of claiming the child for Christ and his Church that is celebrated.. requires nurturing through such things as worship, prayer, Bible study and other spiritual disciplines". It's all these restrictions, rules and guilt culture I can't get on board with.

I have no issue with religion or my children becoming Christians but I have issues with the Catholic Church, I have think they rate themselves superior, above the law, are an antidemocratic and authoritarian institution and you do not need to follow their additional rules to be a healthy happy Christian. I feel people will say its just a baptism it doesn't mean much but once a childs name is given to the church its entered into the "baptismal rolls" of your local Diocese. This name is PERMANENTLY in those records, and the Diocese uses those rolls to inflate their claims of catholics. You can only remove it by applying to the Vatican for 'defection', not excommunication, and this too was abolished in 2012.

There are so many issues within the Catholic Church that I don't want my child on a list that gives them lobbying power, bigger tax breaks and more governance.

I've tried to communicate this but we're not getting anywhere, he says he'd maybe one day be okay with a CofE christening whereas I would actively dislike a Catholic baptism so surely that's a fair middle ground? He says I'm hurting him with this and I don't know what to do but it's something I feel strongly about, as clearly he does too. I'm not completely in the know with this topic so any additional information regardless of who you agree with will be helpful.

Massive well done if you got to the end of that rambling mess, sorry everyone I'm just fretting. How would you handle it?

ElspethFlashman Tue 09-Apr-19 16:03:37

So you only deserve to have your kids baptised if you go to Mass every Sunday and never live with anyone outside marriage? Seriously?

CharlyAngelic Tue 09-Apr-19 16:05:47

The brainwashing works really well . There are a lot of ex or non -practicing RCs on this thread. They must have got dropped on the way to the machine.

Seriously , though , I think this could be a deal breaker for your relationship. At least you are not married yet .

mynameiscalypso Tue 09-Apr-19 16:06:00

As with others, my DH is Catholic (attends Mass most weeks, went to Catholic school etc). I'm an atheist. His religion is important to him and I knew and respected that from the beginning of our relationship although I obviously share a lot of the concerns others have posted here about the Catholic Church. I felt his desire to get married in the church trumped my not-really-giving-a-shit and feel the same about children being baptised and going to Catholic school (currently pregnant with DC1). In part this is because I can see the difference in my DH when he goes to Mass regularly and how good it is for his mental health.

scatterolight Tue 09-Apr-19 16:06:04

So OP it looks like you've already reached a compromise on schooling, general beliefs, and church attendance. The only issue is a baptism?

I truly think you're making a mountain out of a molehill here. Theoretically your child's soul is "claimed" for the Catholic Church. In practice, it has some water poured over its head. You don't even believe in these teachings so why are you so excised about the spiritual repercussions?

Your DH is clearly prepared to give a lot of ground when it comes to religious instruction and "indoctrination". He's prepared to raise his children without instilling in them some of the more repressive ideas of the Church. However it's clear that to him the baptism has important symbolic meaning, and he want his children to be part of the chain of baptism that he belongs to.

Loulouzz Tue 09-Apr-19 16:06:54

Of course I'll compromise, I don't want them signed over AT ALL, the fact I've said I'll be happy enough with a christening is already putting myself in the middle and I need him to be happy too. Just not Catholic. I embrace aspects of his religion in our home and within his family that I make no comment on and actively happily partake to please them, I don't want to disrespect their faith. But this is a bit much and about my own children

NabooThatsWho Tue 09-Apr-19 16:07:32

What is the point in baptising them in a church if you never attend?

BertrandRussell Tue 09-Apr-19 16:08:32

So are you saying you would be happy for your child to go to a catholic school? Because I reckon you’ll need to be.

mynameiscalypso Tue 09-Apr-19 16:09:56

Also - I don't know what your thoughts are on marriage (as in church va otherwise) but I'm pretty sure that I had to agree that I'd bring up any children as Catholic before the bishop would allow the marriage to go ahead.

Poppyputthekettleon Tue 09-Apr-19 16:10:40

I'm not a catholic but I have dated those of other religions where it is a big part of their upbringing and cultural and I'm afraid I don't think it is going to work out. I have a friend who is a non practicing jew but he says he wants to marry a Jewish girl because of the traditions and cultures, it is not just about belief. Also keep in mind that in some case religion becomes stronger for people as they get older. You are very much opposed to his religion by the sound of it and his religion no matter how lapse he is seems to be a big part of his identity.

AverageMan Tue 09-Apr-19 16:11:48

YABU. You say you are an atheist, so it's a bit rich to try and compromise with CofE. It's a completely different religion!

I would have them baptised into their father's faith, and when they're older they can decide if they want to keep the faith or not. Be a bit unfortunate if they missed out on a good school because of it.

Poppyputthekettleon Tue 09-Apr-19 16:12:01

Also it's my understanding that Catholics don't recognize baptism that isn't done in a catholic church

Ferfeckssake Tue 09-Apr-19 16:12:33

ElspethFlashman It is not a question of "deserve" . Baptism is for joining the Church. No other reason. If you don't agree with or intend to participate in it, why would you want to baptize your DCs.??

WeBuiltThisBuffetOnSausageRoll Tue 09-Apr-19 16:14:44

I can't personally understand why somebody for whom their faith is a very important part of their own identity would want to be married to somebody who doesn't share their faith - friends, yes, but not your life partner. It can't be very satisfying for either person, surely?

A man I know has stated that he will under no circumstances agree to the use of contraception, because of his strong Catholic beliefs (they have a rather large family and other people have asked this of them both - not me!). However, his wife is not a Catholic and they had some of their children before they were married - the first of them whilst she was still (ostensibly) in a relationship with another man, who wasn't aware of the OM.

It's entirely up to individuals to choose which faith they want to adhere to - or none, of course - and none of my business; and if they independently choose a particular principle to live by that also happens to be shared by one or more faiths, I get that, but I'll never understand people who are so devout in some central teachings of their faith, BECAUSE they are of that faith, and yet so dismissive of other arguably even more unequivocal teachings.

thecatsthecats Tue 09-Apr-19 16:17:31

It is not a question of "deserve" . Baptism is for joining the Church. No other reason. If you don't agree with or intend to participate in it, why would you want to baptize your DCs.??

Exactly. My sister just had my nephew christened. Both her AND her husband are atheists, and she's a teacher who is anti-faith schools!!!

They have no intention of introducing their son to the faith, or adhering to its tenets... so why?

WeBuiltThisBuffetOnSausageRoll Tue 09-Apr-19 16:17:46

Also it's my understanding that Catholics don't recognize baptism that isn't done in a catholic church

This is my understanding too. Happy to be corrected, but I think the official line is that CofE, Baptists, Methodists etc are 'separated brethren' - i.e. sympathetic but not considered 'true' believers.

Puddlet Tue 09-Apr-19 16:20:38

This book might help. It could open up discussion if nothing else

Loulouzz Tue 09-Apr-19 16:21:23

I think the main problem I have with baptism is that my child will forever be 'a catholic' whether he want's to be or not. I know in reality its just a splash of water and a lot of talking but I just don't support the Catholic Church and he will forever be a tally in their numbers which are used for the things I mentioned before. I don't know why I feel so strongly but it feels as though I'm going against my own beliefs, and I'll hate when his family and him discuss them being Catholics. If they're given all the information and choose to be then I'll be more than supportive and I'll be as I am with DP. But a baby can't decide that.

To other PPs I would be happy to wait and then baptise/christen when said child decided. But he's set on when they're an infant, I'm not sure on his reasoning but I know he has some to do with protecting the baby from evil, given its innocence. Sorry I'm not sure

Puddlet Tue 09-Apr-19 16:21:47

NabooThatsWho Tue 09-Apr-19 16:22:34

I would have them baptised into their father's faith, and when they're older they can decide if they want to keep the faith or not.

Yes, quick! Indoctrinate them while they are young! That’s the best time. Doesn’t work so well once they can think for themselves.

missyB1 Tue 09-Apr-19 16:23:07

Op your “compromise” is a nonsense. A Christian baptism is a Christian baptism. You are atheist so quibbling about the exact church for the baptism seems rather silly!

As for the corruption/ paedophile arguments. Are you saying nothing like that can happen in the CofE church? I’m sure it could and does so why would it be ok to have your child baptised there?

This is not worth causing a big issue over.

Ferfeckssake Tue 09-Apr-19 16:24:13

And in my parish , people wanting their child baptised are asked to attend Baptismal courses . It is an opportunity to be reminded of the WHY of Baptism . If you are doing it for the wrong reasons - dare I start a bun fight by mentioning Nice Day Out and Good Schools ??- it may encourage a more honest conversation with DP as to his decision .

WeBuiltThisBuffetOnSausageRoll Tue 09-Apr-19 16:24:18

My sister just had my nephew christened. Both her AND her husband are atheists, and she's a teacher who is anti-faith schools!!!

They have no intention of introducing their son to the faith, or adhering to its tenets... so why?

Really baffles me too. If a baby-naming ceremony is ostensibly the equivalent of a christening but without the religious aspects, why on earth would they choose the latter? It would be like an avowed vegetarian making a show of ordering the nut roast instead of the carvery that the rest of the group are having - but then asking them to chuck on a couple of pork sausages as a side order!

They don't sound like particularly devout atheists to me!

Helplessfeeling Tue 09-Apr-19 16:24:27

My DH is athiest, I am RC. I wasn't exactly practising when we met, but once I had DC baptised I started attending Mass every week, I still go now and the children are older. It deepened my own faith to have my DC baptised. Maybe your DH will experience similar..

My DH knew my faith was important to me and he knew I would not have felt happy if my children were not also RC. He had the same reservations as you about the Catholic church, but put them to one side out of respect for me and my faith. I love and respect him for doing that.
Things have worked out for us, the kids have been to Catholic schools which gave them a better education than the non faith schools in our area offered. My eldest DC was confirmed but my youngest is undecided- which is fine by me, they can decide for themselves.
Catholic schools, and in fact the Catholic church, will be very different places to what they were when your DH was growing up. They don't take away condoms! Also, a Christian baptism in a church that neither of you is committed to (Cof E) is not a compromise!

LillithsFamiliar Tue 09-Apr-19 16:25:21

Is he much, much older than you? Because I don't know any Catholic school that doesn't provide sex education or classes on different religions so can only imagine his schooling must pre-date the 1990s.

We have the same religious difference in our marriage except I'm Catholic. DH is atheist. Our DC are baptised, attend Catholic school and made their Communion, etc.They also know people have different beliefs and that DH is an atheist. Our immediate family and friends follow a number of different faiths eg Jewish, Buddhist, etc.

It hasn't been a difficult balancing act for us at all but my DH does not share your staunch dislike of the Catholic Church. I'm not sure how we could have balanced it if he did. His view was he liked the moral framework it provided and how it impacted the values my family had. He also had the view that my faith was important to me and impacted my life but his atheist didn't play a major role in his life.

I wonder if it would benefit you both to see a counsellor? If you love and respect each other there should be a middle ground but I think you both need to be honest about how you feel about this. Otherwise it's an issue that will rear its head time and time again in your relationship.

Loulouzz Tue 09-Apr-19 16:26:53

WeBuiltThisBuffetOnSausageRoll from what I've looked into it would be recognised. But that last bit in itself in inherintly wrong to me, they're not true believers, says who, the Catholic Church superior again. Even though they follow the same god, principles and book. They're all Christians under different umbrellas, but the Catholic Church is a corrupt institution, I'm not saying there aren't bad bits for all of them but I'm just not happy about it

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