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civil naming ceremony as opposed to religious christening

(65 Posts)
LylaLils Wed 02-Jan-13 14:15:58

I was christened RC and even went as far as confirmation in my teens. This, I was fully aware, so I could get into a good college. My father is Muslim and I grew up fully aware of the hypocrisy of religion as I saw it and still see it. My partner agrees and thus we do not want our baby involved in the church. Much to the dismay of family and friends who say we're jeopardizing our boy's future, as all the best schools are faith schools.

We're sticking to our guns though. We were thinking of having a civil naming ceremony instead. I wondered if anyone else here has had an experience of one of these? What was the cost? How did it go? Did you have to chose "godparents"? Did you regret not getting your child regards to the consequent schooling?

Also, any ideas of how to answer well meaning but interfering relatives? When they go on about not christening our boy? The only way I can think of answering involves insulting the church and therefore, them.

Thanks xxx

EllieArroway Wed 02-Jan-13 15:13:05

I can't really answer any of your questions specifically (never went through any ceremony with my DS) but the Humanists have celebrants who'll do naming ceremonies (link below).

Good for you for sticking to your guns. You'll find that the more, er, faithful amongst your relatives WILL criticise you because they'll think that you're harming the soul of your child by not having your child christened. Let it go in one ear and out the other - don't bother arguing. "He's our child and it's our decision. Hope you'll be there. Bye". Personally I would say, "I'm not having him christened into any particular religion, because I don't know what (if any) religion he'll choose to be. He can make up his own mind when he's older". But then I am very intolerant when it comes to other people's fucking stupid beliefs.

Whatever you do, hope it's a lovely day smile

EllieArroway Wed 02-Jan-13 15:13:24


EllieArroway Wed 02-Jan-13 15:15:35

BTW: My son was never christened, or had any religious influence in his life at all, and has always gone to really good schools. The best primary was the local CofE one and he went there, even though I wrote "no religion" on the form. A couple of atheist friends have kids at Catholic schools too. So I'm not sure this is quite the problem your relatives are making out.

LylaLils Wed 02-Jan-13 17:37:19

Thank you for your reply, ellie. I'll have a look at that link. To be honest in regards to family and friends views, they are more concerned with the education side of things rather than the "soul living in purgatory"...they are astounded that I should even consider not spending the rest of my days lying and jumping through hoops, and having to sit through torturously boring sermons, brownnosing the priest, and most importantly letting my son be taught something I so strongly disagree with. They are incredulous that I would not do this for the sake of my son. They make me doubt my decision sometimes.

Can I ask you about how you feel about your child being taught in a faith school? It's good to know that its still possible for a "non religious" child to attend...I didn't think this possible. Do any of the things he is taught upset you...for example, the religious stuff, considering you are not religious yourself? And if so, do you explain to your child that you do not believe? Sorry for the length of this post...its a subject I feel really strongly about.

Amerryscot Wed 02-Jan-13 17:50:01

I think that yearning after a naming ceremony confirms that you have a "God-shaped gap" in your lives.

BikeRunSki Wed 02-Jan-13 18:27:23

We have had Humanist naming ceremonies for both DC - DD's was combined with her first birthday only a few weeks ago. I am also confirmed RC, but totally athiest in reality. We wanted to celebrate our babies and welcome them into our family and circle of friends. Not being religious doesn't mean we don't have feelings! My RC mum was very hesitant about our first naming ceremony, but afterwards said it was the most personal, moving, relevant and thoughtful "service" she'd ever been to. I'd really recommend you look into it - they no legal standing or anything, but having the Humanist celebrant adds some gravitas to the event.

sashh Thu 03-Jan-13 04:31:14

I think that yearning after a naming ceremony confirms that you have a "God-shaped gap" in your lives.

Personally I think it is a 'party to cellebrate new baby' shaped hole.


You can do anything you like, you can have a humanist or other 'official' or you can do your own.

FellatioNelson Thu 03-Jan-13 04:50:39

I don't really get this at all. Why bother? The civil naming ceremony happens when you register your child's birth, doesn't it?

If you don't feel the need for a baptism that fine, but why want a ceremony at all? confused

Just have a party in honour of your baby, if that's what you want. There is no need for it to be preceded by some sort of trumped up official/ceremonial nonsense.

LylaLils Thu 03-Jan-13 06:58:28

Reckon what we'll end up doing is just having a big informal party this summer. In answer to those who don't get it, its so we can welcome our boy into the world and an excuse to get all our friends and family together in the name of our child. As for the "god shaped hole" or whatever that person said, I have 2 words: ha ha

EllieArroway Thu 03-Jan-13 07:25:13

but why want a ceremony at all? Er, because she wants one? The idea that the only meaningful ceremony we can have has to involve references to a god is ludicrous.

Hi, Lyla. With regard to the religious schools thing, it's tough, and you have to do your homework. There's actually no such thing as a secular education in the UK, by law there has to be some daily act of worship (a whole other thread!) so religion is likely to pop up somewhere along the way.

My son went to an absolutely fantastic primary school that was CofE & the only time there was any real religious flavour to anything was a once a term trip to the local church. This was balanced out with trips at other times to a mosque. There was no praying in school at all, just the occasional hymn at assembly. This fitted in fine with my "Some people believe....." attitude at home.

BUT - when he was in year 4 he had a born again Christian class teacher. This guy was an absolutely wonderful teacher, really loved by all the pupils - his assemblies were an "event" if you see what I mean. He did come on a bit strong at Christmas (his cards said, "Remember, Jesus is the reason for the season!!" hmm) but I let that go. Unfortunately, he then told the entire class during a lesson about space that the world was only 6,000 years old and had been made in 6 days shock

I couldn't let that go - there's personal beliefs and then there's bullshit. So I called an urgent meeting with the head and the teacher and made it absolutely clear that this was 100% unacceptable & I didn't relish being put in the position of having to tell my son that his teacher didn't know what he was talking about. My closest mum friend, whose son was in the same class, was a church going Christian and she was equally furious about it all so backed me up. Teacher apologised and that was that.

So, be vigilant. You can't remove all religion from their lives, and you shouldn't want to. Christianity is an important part of our history & culture & you can't get a well rounded education without knowing about it, so try to see it on that basis.

(DS is now 16. Decided to be a Christian for 3 weeks when he was 12, got bored so became a Buddhist for about 3 years, is now an atheist. They DO make up their own minds if they are given the freedom to at home).


LylaLils Thu 03-Jan-13 09:15:25

Thanks ellie. I totally agree with your thoughts about religion being an important part of history and culture, I'd just prefer it to be taught in an objective way, and to include other religions too. I will also be teaching my son that people believe different things and its up to him what he wants to believe. I'll be supportive in anything he choses (although admittedly I'd find it quite difficult if he truly believed in something that I don't) but I realise he's an individual with his own mind.

There's a really great local school I want him to attend, non denominational and has had excellent ofstead reports. If however, he doesn't get in, the only other non faith school is a really bad school, so I'm really worried about this and sometimes do wonder if I'm making the right decision in not getting him christened. But I just can't be one of those fake religious parents. It goes against all my morals. But then when I think about it all my other mum friends have lied about it and their kids attend the best schools. Am I doing the right thing??? Argh, THIS COUNTRY!

LylaLils Thu 03-Jan-13 09:22:19

And yeah, people thinking only children from religious parents deserve a ceremony...well that is exactly the attitude I want to avoid my son from being exposed to. Hence not wanting to get him involved in the church. I repeat: THIS COUNTRY.

worldgonecrazy Thu 03-Jan-13 09:52:53

I'm actually a Naming Celebrant (and handfastings and funerals!). We don't do "religious" namings, but we do namings with meaning whereby the parents formally introduce their child to the world, "name" them, and have a bit of a party. If the parents have a spiritual or religious path, then they can call upon what they believe in to look after the child until the child is old enough to find their own path in life. If the parents are atheists then the ceremony remains completely secular.

It's a way of gently reminding any naysayers that the child will choose their own religion, or none, when they're old enough to make up their own mind, rather than forcing a religion on a child.

If the parents want Godparents/Guardians then they are included in the ceremony, and promise to watch over and guide the child in life. The Godparents are also called upon to give a gift to the child. This can be anything but is usually a gift with a meaning behind it - e.g. a CD for the gift of music.

If you want any advice then drop me a PM.

RevealTheHiddenBeach Thu 03-Jan-13 09:59:18

It sounds like worldgonecrazy can offer more practical advice, but on an "I've thought about this too" note - have you thought about doing a party-instead-of-a-ceremony type thing? This is something that my DP and I have talked about doing with our kids (if/when they happen!) - and I'd really like to call it a dedication party - just a time to gather friends/family, and have a bit of an announcement/toast about dedicating ourselves as parents to our child, and wanting to bring them up with certain values. I guess that's less about the name and more about the future, but perhaps that is what you'd like to put in anyway?

sleeplessinsuburbia Thu 03-Jan-13 10:28:38

We had a welcoming ceremony. I guess my family are on the creative side and a few people wrote poems and asked the universe to be generous kind of thing. The celebrant read an extract from dr seuess and there was some jewelry of cultural significance worn.

LylaLils Thu 03-Jan-13 11:31:51

Thanks all.

Theworldgonecrazy: thank you for your advice. We have kind of decided that we'll do something ourselves and keep it informal, jus have a big party really. We need to keep the cost down and having looked at various packages, we really can't afford it.

Suggestions about reading and poems are a nice touch, thanks for all the suggestions its been interesting to read all your views.

EllieArroway Thu 03-Jan-13 11:37:53

The celebrant read an extract from dr seuess

I suspect this might have been "Oh, The Places You'll Go". If you don't know it, Lyla it's worth a read and completely perfect for a naming ceremony/party.

sleeplessinsuburbia Thu 03-Jan-13 12:02:59

The biggest expense was the celebrant but she had married us so we felt it was worth it. The actual ceremony was under a big tree by the water with fish and chips and a glass of champagne with just our family.

LylaLils Thu 03-Jan-13 14:56:23

That Dr Seuss verse is beautiful, just googled it and I very nearly had a tear! Although its quite long I think I'll prob use it on the day so thanks for the suggestion.

That sounds lovely, sleeplessinsuburbia, we live in a big private garden so I'll apply for a party with the committee to get a marquee set up.

BikeRunSki Thu 03-Jan-13 18:56:58

We had the Dr Seuss for DD!

PiccadillyCervix Thu 03-Jan-13 19:03:40

If someone has a christening ceremony and isn't VERY religions my immediate thought is .."oh you'd like a gift and need to waste your friend and family's day so your and you dc who isn't even aware of it yet can bet the center of attention"

If someone isn't religious and needs a naming ceremony, my immediate thought is "oh you'd like a gift and need to waste your friend and family's day so you and your dc who isn't even aware of it yet can bet the center of attention"

Have a party if you want...but don't do a ceremony. They're boring. The only people who will disagree are the people who held them for their kids and even they will find them boring but realise they have to pretend to care about yours.

LylaLils Thu 03-Jan-13 20:03:05

Nah, truth is I just want a piss up

EllieArroway Thu 03-Jan-13 20:09:53

What a nasty post, Piccadilly. Sounds like projection to me.

So, it's alright to have an even more boring ceremony provided it involves making promises on behalf of a child to a fictitious god? That's not all about presents & wanting to be the centre of attention, right - it just is if you take out the god part.

How very lovely.

EllieArroway Thu 03-Jan-13 20:13:13

Lyla Do whatever you want, however you want.

And yeah, that Dr Seuss book....I used to read it to DS when he was little and I don't think I ever got through it without a lump in my throat blush

(That is top secret information. Tell anyone and I'll have you, er, disappeared wink)

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