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Why do non Christians want their kids baptised?

(37 Posts)
martinedwards Sun 20-Oct-13 09:58:21

as a Christian, I see the value of baptism, either as an infant or later as a believer making their own decision.

if you aren't a believer, and not a regular attender at church, why would you want to get your children baptised/Christened?

I'm fully for making the church a welcoming place, and hopefully you might like the fellowship and listen to the teaching and eventually decide to explore the faith further, and THEN, baptism makes sense, but can anyone explain a logical reason why a non believer would want to?

FamiliesShareGerms Wed 30-Oct-13 08:50:43

takeit - in south west London it's not even "good enough" for children to have been christened in order to get into the most over subscribed schools. Families need to show that they have been active members of the church congregation for a number of years (eg 3 years before the school application is made). This isn't just going to services regularly - though some churches do take a "register" of attendees tom verify who has been going frequently - but doing things like helping with the flowers, coffees afterwards, singing in the choir etc.

Comes as a bit of a shock to parents who thought that they had done enough by getting their babies christened and even if it doesn't weed out hypocrites it ensure a lot of volunteers for the church

takeitonthegin Tue 29-Oct-13 18:10:58

Just a question (not meant to cause a row - genuine query), those that have no choice but to get their children baptised for school, was this done later on in your childs life, at the point of registering for schools or were you aware of the school issue when they were babies? I ask because we dont have that situation where we live. Various schools, some religious, some not and I suppose I perhaps, wrongly, assumed there was a choice in all areas. Did you encourage your children to go to their place of worship after they were baptised and learn more about the religion or were you able to seperate it? I ask this because I'm an athiest and I think if I had no choice other than to get my child baptised, I would have to try and teach them about it and be part of it. (I havent been in that position though so maybe its not really an issue and im taking religion too seriously).

Interesting thread though.

Snowlike Tue 29-Oct-13 17:56:14

Schools & tradition mostly in England but OP I think you are naive about N Ireland, my db has christened his kids so they can attend the local Catholic Primary - not over-subscribed btw, but you need to be christened to attend, they never go to church but they come from church going families so I guess there's some cultural expectation as there was for me but I refused to comply.

LegoCaltrops Tue 29-Oct-13 17:31:32

Schools, a party.

For the record, DH & I decided against this, much to my family's chagrin. My DM (a fully ordained vicar) was aghast. Much as she was at our refusal to marry in church. But, as we don't attend & don't intend to start, we'd have felt rather hypocritical. (Plus I was sick of the nagging.) However we are lucky to live in an area where there are a number of good non-denominational schools, so I'd not judge anyone else on their motives.

StrangeGlue Tue 29-Oct-13 17:18:19

We got dd christened as older family members are religious and didn't want to put them through pain of believing dd would go to hell regardless of her behaviour if she wasn't.

Others do it to celebrate the birth in a traditional manner.

Some believe that Church of England is a public service funded by state so should be accessible to all people regardless of beliefs.

FamiliesShareGerms Tue 29-Oct-13 17:11:41

DH and I agreed that we would not have a church wedding (because I am a heathen, and find it incredibly hypocritical to marry in church if you do not believe in God) but that any children would be christened. Both of ours have been, and it was nice to get the family together to celebrate their arrivals (especially DD, who was adopted, and many family hadn't met her until then). But it was meaningful to DH, who is a non-practising Christian, and to both of our families (which both contain a fair number of regular church goers, including of the variety that believe small children should be christened ASAP).

TeacupDrama Tue 29-Oct-13 17:01:53

baptising and christening are often used interchangeably but not all christians see it that way,

a lot of evangelical christians only baptise on profession of personal faith at an age when the person being baptised is old enough to understand not necessarily an adult but at age of discernment probably at least 10-12 maybe older sometimes this is referred to as adult baptism but those practising it would term it believers baptism, taking communion for the first time would normally follow believers baptism

other protestant evangelicals like presbyterians which do practise infant baptism would never use the term christening as they do not believe the baptising makes the infant a christian but rather is an act by the parents of their intention to bring the child up to quote " in the nurture and admonition of God" they also believe that you become a christian when you are born again, in these churches you take your first communion when you have decided for yourself that you are a believer and not at a particular age, there is no ceremony for first communion and they do not do confirmation

sashh Sun 27-Oct-13 09:25:46

Baptism isn't an exclusive Christian club, it features in the Sikh faith.

And you know that bit in the Bible where John the Baptist is, well baptising - they were not Christians.


For most Christians yes, but for some Christians no. Technically (in Christian faith) a christening is an anointment with chism and a baptism is with water. But for a lot of Christians, the ceremony for a baby involves both, with water being poured over the baby's head.

Some Christians do 'full body immersion' and this tends to be as an adult.

Some Christians recognise others' baptism and some don't so it is possible for someone who has been baptised as a child to be baptised again as an adult in a different denomination, but it is equally possible that the baptism as a child is recognised so someone baptised into the Church of England as a baby but who converts to Roman Catholicism will not be baptised again.

Anyone can baptise (in the majority of Christian denominations), you, as a Muslim, are not prohibited from baptising someone as a christian. Not sure if anything in Islam would prevent you though. would it?

It used to be part of the training to be a nurse to learn how to baptise someone.

Sometimes from the outside it looks like a couple are using the baptism as an excuse for a party but I suspect something rather more complicated is going on. A significant number of the babies I baptise are to parents who aren't married. The cost of weddings these days is really high so the parents are having a family celebration which celebrates their new (ish) baby and also celebrates their partnership. As a rite of passage the baptism is in part taking over the function of the wedding celebration to mark a new family. It is only in recent times (post 18th C) that ordinary people got married before having children so it is almost a retreat back to earlier times.

Polyethyl Mon 21-Oct-13 12:43:04

Yes baptism and christening are indeed the same thing.

crescentmoon Mon 21-Oct-13 11:36:01

can i just ask is a baptism and christening the same thing?

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 21-Oct-13 10:59:51

The birth of a child is a big thing. AFAIK, All cultures have rituals that celebrate this by gathering together and welcoming the child into the world and their lives.

It can be annoying to believers who feel their church and beliefs are being belittled by those not willing to fullfill the Baptism vows, but it is a natural and human desire and until a non-faith ritual becomes available and established, it will remain.

nosleeptillbedtime Sun 20-Oct-13 12:12:50

I don't go to church but want my son baptised. I don't go to church as dh would never go and realistically going would take up the best part of the day and we get very little time together as it is. I did however go regularly to an evening prayer group until ds came along. A vicar may reach wrong conclusions if he assumes one is not a Christian just because he hasn't seen someone in church.
Having said that, I do think some people want to identify themselves as a certain sort and class of person and see baptism as part of that. I had a friend who got married in church ( and subsequent children baptised) announcing that her faith was very important to her which was a huge surprise to everyone who had ever known her as no one had the slightest inkling she had any faith. I think for her this was part of her associating herself as now being upper middle class. She refers to her occasional childminder as 'our nanny' too.

RevelsRoulette Sun 20-Oct-13 11:00:41

some sort of 'residual christianity'? grin A feeling of it being The Done Thing without really stopping to think why you feel that way. I've noticed this about people. If something has always been done a certain way, that becomes a reason in itself for it to remain a certain way and the reason why it was done that way in the first place is lost.

Ought to, should do, people do, it's traditional, etc.

I don't think that it's got an awful lot to do with the person's belief in Jesus as the son of God or a desire to be one with god, approved by god, blessed by god or whatever.

Religion became tradition

Polyethyl Sun 20-Oct-13 10:41:24

I once listened to a mother moan about the presents her little one had received at his christening. Along with toys and clothes a couple of guests had given religious gifts - namely one gave a children's bible and another gave a noah's ark. The mother winged that these christian themed presents were an insult. I was Intrigued by her attitude so asked why the children's Bible irritated her. "Well obviously were not church going types - the christening was just a family gathering and party - so why did they give such a useless present? "

After that delightful insight into the mother's thought processes I made my excuses and left her to winge to more like minded people.

meditrina Sun 20-Oct-13 10:37:34

If the parents hold a different faith (and I include atheism in that), then they won't.

If however, like many, they are agnostic then it's probably a 'why not?' hedging-your-bets type choice, especially if there is any Christian tradition that involves infant baptism in their recent family tree.

I think it's a good thing that (most) churches will include anyone who asks, for who is to judge anyone's faith journey?

bootsycollins Sun 20-Oct-13 10:33:07

To get them into a better school.

BikeRunSki Sun 20-Oct-13 10:32:50

They are hedging their bets

MrsWolowitz Sun 20-Oct-13 10:30:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NoComet Sun 20-Oct-13 10:29:26

DH's Vicar got so annoyed about this he published a leaflet asking exactly these sorts of questions.

He reckoned parents just count baptism as a childhood vaccination against sin just something else on the list. Cot, check, pram, check, whooping cough jab, check, christening, check.

Really annoyed him because he knew the christening was the first and last time he'd see that family in church.

He knew I'm a atheist, who would never make baptism promises (he married us) and that DH would happily.

So instead of a baptism he gave DD1 a beautiful blessing thanking God for her safe arrival, but making no commitment to her future faith (which is just as well as she's a church choir singing non believer).

And to make his point he did this on Easter Sunday, with the church full.

And yes we did have a bit of a party complete with cake afterwards at DMILs.

As to my family, they have never been officially told, DDad likes DH very much and has managed to avoid religion for 25years, not bad for an evangelical athiest.

pickledparsnip Sun 20-Oct-13 10:29:12

There is a very good Catholic school in my town, but I would never want my son to go there because we are heathens not Catholic.

pickledparsnip Sun 20-Oct-13 10:27:05

Tradition & the party. I had no intention of baptising my son as I am not a Christian. Seems ridiculous to do so if you are not religious.
I feel the same way about people who are not religious but get married in a church. Seems very hypocritical to me.

ginmakesitallok Sun 20-Oct-13 10:25:06

Martinedwards, yes thank god you live in n Ireland where you don't have an issue with faith schools... confused smile

martinedwards Sun 20-Oct-13 10:21:28

I thanks the Lord that I live in Northern Ireland where we don't do C of E schools. we may have many problems, but institutional hypocrisy isn't one.... no wait, THAT FORM of institutional hypocrisy isn't one of 'em!

but we still have a load of folk who want thier kids "done" and are never seen again

MrsBungle Sun 20-Oct-13 10:19:23

I know quite a few people who've christened their kids and got married in church when I've never known them to set foot in church any other time. The first 5 I can think of didn't do it for schools as their kids don't go to church schools.

I assume maybe they do believe but don't practice/attend church or they want a party had presents

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