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Baptism / Christening for the non-religious

(19 Posts)
youcannotbeserious Sat 19-Jul-08 09:39:39

My side of the family are very religious (catholic) and DH's side of the family are agnostic (at best!) - DH is a fervent non-believer!!!

I am trying to organise DS's christening and I've pretty much decided on a blessing, as it feels wrong to commit to things which I know we can't do. I have a meeting with the preist in August to discuss how that will work.

Has anyone had a naming ceremony away from a church and then a blessing in a church... and does anyone have any experience of only half of the invitees attending the church?

The church part is really for my family, it's important to them and I don't want to ignore that part of DS's heritage, but equally don't want to force the non believers into a church service..

FWIW, i don't go to church....

MaryBS Sat 19-Jul-08 15:04:20

I've been thinking about this, and I don't really have any answer for you. I just wondering if you're trying to please everyone and will end up pleasing no-one?

Have you discussed this with your family? How do they see a blessing?

As for your nonreligious friends, then most people are usually happy to go along to things like weddings/baptisms/funerals, even if they don't believe anything.

BUT! Don't be pushed into something you don't want to do.

The C of E do a service of "Thanksgiving for the gift of a child", maybe you could go for something like that?

youcannotbeserious Sat 19-Jul-08 15:19:16

Thanks MaryBS

THe catholics won't be appeased with anything less than something in a catholic church.

The non-believers might go along with something in a church, but some (DH!) won't and, to be honest, I don't feel it's right to force the non believers into church when the believers won't be happy with anything less.

I DO know what you mean about pleaseing no-one, which is why I'd like to split the first half - the catholics get the blessing and the non-believers get to go to the pub!!! grin

Of course, there are some catholics who won't be happy, but that's their problem!!!

MaryBS Sat 19-Jul-08 17:36:44

I don't think you'll please them with a blessing though... particularly if they are "old school" Catholics. Anyway, Catholics go to the pub too!

youcannotbeserious Sat 19-Jul-08 19:07:37

You are right, it won't please them, but I don't see why everyone else should bend just because they won't be happy.

I do feel totally stuck in the middle and I'm going to have to expect a degree of compromise on both sides!!!

MaryBS Sat 19-Jul-08 21:45:21

Speak to the priest, see what he suggests. Unless he is "old school" too, in which case you're damned if you do, damned if you dont wink

Trouble is, in the RCC I don't think there IS that much in the way of compromise. Some people like it that way - I left and (eventually) became an Anglican, where sometimes I think there is too much compromise!

All I can suggest is you are open and upfront about it, which'll (hopefully) give them chance to calm down before the actual day.

Not entirely the same, but my RC mother was very unhappy that I was going to be received into the Anglican church. But I gave her time, and told my brothers and sister how much it would mean to me, they then worked on her, and she DID make it on the day

tatt Sun 20-Jul-08 05:24:05

if you truly don't believe then entering a church shouldn't really be important to you. Therefore there is nothing to stop you going for social reasons/ to be there for friends/family who do believe. You don't have to join in the responses.

Is there any provision for someone other than the parents to make promises in a catholic ceremony? If there is let the godparents make the promises for you.

Wondering if you had a catholic wedding and if so what promises your husband made then.

2sugars Sun 20-Jul-08 05:44:09

There's no compromise. Are you doing this because you'd like to commemorate your child, or to please the grandparents?

canofworms Sun 20-Jul-08 22:09:24

Why are you trying to please everyone else when surely a baptism/christening is about your child? hmm

youcannotbeserious Mon 21-Jul-08 09:51:56

It's a good point, Canoworms, and one I can't immediately answer.

I feel some pressure to have DS christened to please my parents and family, though I think I'm regretting even giving them the possibility of it, as they are getting a bit stressy about wanting to invite family.

But, equal (and opposite) pressure from DH to keep at least part of the day which isn't catholic because he's really nto religious at all.

I'm half thinking of just cancelling the whole thing and just having a really small get together where we can just do what we want.........

bird42 Wed 13-Aug-08 16:20:31


I'm RC and have done 2 christenings - both were short and simple, no hymns or 'obbly gobbly' with a very understanding priest who knew and accepted that most people there were only there for us and the party, not the service!

i think if you can keep it quiet and private ie not during a public service, then you keep a lovely personal feel and you stand less chance of upsetting people eg my very CofE m-in-l!

and as far as my large RC family were concerned, the after-show party was equally important. put it this way, the service took 20 mins and the party went on way way longer!!

if you feel you have to do it, i hope this takes the edge of your anxiety!

RichmondMummy Sat 16-Aug-08 20:40:33

I've been to a couple of non-religious naming ceremonies followed by church blessings. That seemed to keep all bits of extended family happy for my friend. The parents made vows to the baby, can't remember what they promised now though.

If you are a lapsed Christian then organising a blessing or a baptism for your baby might be a service that you would yourself benefit from - remind you what it's all about.

Were you thinking of choosing a local church for the Christening that you can attend with your child? If so pick one with playgroup, sunday school, and a minister who is an interesting preacher?
Or were you going to use the church that your family are members of? That might really mean a lot to them.

As for non-believers coming to church... it didn't stop all the non-believers who came to our church wedding, so probably isn't a problem for Christenings either.

trinity1 Tue 23-Jun-09 15:48:46

Hi. My other half is catholic and whilst I have no issue whatsoever with our DD's being Christened catholic, he said that non-catholics won't be allowed to witness the ceremony. I hope he's joking as I am not catholic and want to see our children christened. I hope he's pulling my leg, and if he is, I will kick his ass!

OldLadyKnowsNothing Tue 23-Jun-09 23:34:29

I have been thinking about this very matter recently - my DIL(ish) (she and my DS do not live together, they both still live at home) is due next month and is from a very large, nominally Catholic family. She's not a practising Catholic and I don't think her mum's a church-goer, but of course rites of passage raise emotions. DS is agnostic, and was not raised with religion. I am becoming increasingly atheist, having been CofS as a teenager.

If they choose to have a Catholic baptism, I don't think I could attend. Weddings and funerals are Ok but the "thing" I have with baptism/christening ceremonies is that the parents and godparents are promising to raise the child in that faith, and the congregation are asked to support them in that. And I couldn't.

I don't know if that adds anything to the thread, sorry, I may be out of line here.

MaryBS Wed 24-Jun-09 07:35:48

trinity1, he IS pulling your leg!

nappyaddict Wed 24-Jun-09 08:28:27

OLKN - you don't have to join in with the responses though where the congregation agree to help raise the child in that faith.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Wed 24-Jun-09 15:17:38

Thanks, nappyaddict - I raised the subject with DS and his GF this morning. It turns out that she did want a Catholic baptism, but only because if unbaptised babies die they go to Limbo instead of Heaven. As I was able to reassure her that the Pope abolished Limbo a couple of years ago, she's happy to look at more secular alternatives where DS can also commit himself to raising their baby as a good citizen (if not a Catholic - he hadn't realised he'd have had to make that committment too, and he's not prepared to either.)

So, discussions still to be had, but I think DIL(ish) will be OK with a non-religious baby-naming/welcome to the world ceremony and a nice party afterwards.

As an aside, is there a name for non-religious "godparents"?

AMumInScotland Wed 24-Jun-09 15:26:04

Some churches call godparents "sponsors" - is that a useful term for nonreligious versions?

OldLadyKnowsNothing Wed 24-Jun-09 15:30:06

It's a thought, AMumInScotland, thanks.

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