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AIBU? not want to be a hypocrite and christen my baby?

71 replies

Moorhen · 12/05/2007 15:18

First child due in ten weeks. DH and I are absolutely non-religious, my family the same.
DH's parents, tho are very devout members of a fairly strict denomination, so much so that although they came to our wedding reception, they did not attend the civil ceremony (no hard feelings about this, BTW; they did what they felt was right and also shared our wedding with us, is the way I see it).
Anyway, with our baby en route, we're facing the christening dilemma. If we don't baptise our child, it will really distress the in-laws. Thing is, I don't just not believe in their religion - I actively disagree with many aspects of it. And I don't want to be a hypocrite and have my child join a club I don't like and won't be bringing him up to know.
Choices, as I see it, are:

  1. Don't christen at all (not nice for in-laws)

2. Ask my grandad (who is a retired vicar of a rather fluffier denomination) to dunk LO in a sink and say the right words.
3. Sneak into a similarly fluffy church after a service, confess to the vicar and ask him to do the honours quickly, with just me and DH present.

Any thoughts? Or preferably, any better ideas?
OP posts:
Pinchypants · 15/05/2007 13:17

Moorhen, I know what you mean. Neither set of in-laws practising or devour but me and DH bought up in C of E, christened, sang in choirs, married etc. DD is nearly 10 months and we said to everyone from the beginning we didn't want to get her christened because we would like her to choose if or any faith she wants to sign up to. We also feel really uncomfortable about certain aspects of and language in the CofE christening service, and don't think 'better schools' is a good enough reason.

Our approach was to have a Naming Ceremony last weekend which we arranged with help from the lovely people at Civil Ceremonies. We had a registrar, hired a village hall, had a wonderful day and best of all, the words were completely personal and really meaningful for the whole family. DD now has four godparents - and yes, we did want to call them that - and we were able to make sure the grandparents were mentioned in the ceremony. It was a very emotional day for us all. And unlike the civil marriage ceremony, cos it's not legal you can make it as spiritual or religious as you like, or completely secular - it's just not in a church and not pledging the baby to a particular faith. And you could always have a 'blessing' of the baby afterwards or the same weekend at your in-laws' church to keep 'em happy without the full rigmarole.

Good luck and let me know if you want more info on our naming day.

Pinchy xx

potoroo · 15/05/2007 13:32

I can see both sides of the argument.
If you are thinking of doing it I'd strongly suggest checking out the wording of the vows before hand (don't forget you also need to find godparents who will also agree to these vows).
I found some of them vague enough that they could be open to interpretation (ie I agreed to my interpretation IFSWIM)

LostPuppy · 15/05/2007 13:32

What a ridiculous situation.

Never get forced into doing something that you dont want, especially if it is just because it might upset someone on the basis of their religion!

Too many people use religion as a way of controlling their children, even after said children have left home and are adults with 'supposedly' their own minds.

And if they are good christians they'll forgive you anyway.

GiantSquirrelSpotter · 15/05/2007 13:38

I couldn't bring myself to stand in front of the font and agree to repudiate the devil.

I just don't believe in the devil. I would feel an idiot. And when I went to a baptism of a cousin, I was horrified by what a negative horrible view of an unbaptised baby was presented. It really put me off. It didn't feel like just a welcome into the church, in the catholic church it really was a "washing away of sin". Vile.

So no, you're not being unreasonable.

Aloha · 15/05/2007 13:39

Don't do it. For really important things in my life, like my children and my relationship with my dh, I don't want to introduce what to me would be lies.

Aloha · 15/05/2007 13:41

Giant Squirrel, that is interesting as sadly that is precisely how I feel at christenings. Lovely baby, nice dresses, hats and cake etc but horrible ceremony! I think hte idea of a ceremony is lovely - a party to welcome the baby - but the actually wording about devils and sin makes me feel extremely uneasy.

LazyLine · 15/05/2007 13:43

Your in-laws should be respecting your beliefs as well, you know.

They didn't come to your wedding as it conflicted with their belief system. You accepted this in what appears to me to be a mature and repectful way. They did not put aside what they accept to be true in prder to please you.

It is now up to them to respect what YOU believe to be true.

Just because you have no religious beliefs should not mean that those that do should assume that you have no principles.

J20BABY · 15/05/2007 13:52

haven't read the whole thread but in a church near us, they do an alternative type of christening called 'the thanksgiving for the birth of your child' or something like that, its not as religious, but i think a vicar still peforms the ceremony, maybe as a compromise.


clumsymum · 15/05/2007 13:55

If you and the baby's father agree on what to do then that's fine, it's nobody else's business.

If it helps, I know of one child who had a Roman Catholic Christening and a Spiritualist naming ceremony. I think that was HUGELY hypocritical, and well over the top, and think in his case the poor little soul is gowing to grow up incredibly confused (really odd names too.

littlelapin · 15/05/2007 13:59

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

princessmel · 15/05/2007 13:59

What nineunlikelttales said.

I would have loved to get the dc's christened for the party but I don't think thats a good enough reason . mil keeps asking us why we're not going to. I'd feel a hypocrite.
I'd do 2). Its your baby not theirs. They will have to accept that you're bringing him/her up your way with your beliefs. Not theirs.

SweetyDarling · 15/05/2007 14:06

During a christening, don't you (the parents) have to promise to bring up your child acording to the beliefs of the church? If this is right and you are considering just lieing about it, then why not just lie to the inlaws? Tell them she's been christened to make them happy without actually having to go through with it?

GiantSquirrelSpotter · 15/05/2007 14:06

I came out of the last christening I went to feeling angry and upset tbh. The idea that this innocent little baby was steeped in evil which had to be baptised out of it - yuk. I really needed a gin and tonic to get over it.

SweetyDarling · 15/05/2007 14:09

Re schools, is there a way for schools to check if the child has been christened, or do they just have to take your word for it?

amidaiwish · 15/05/2007 14:15

you have to include baptism certificate (original, not photocopy!) with your application, plus priest has to countersign your application. for catholic schools that is anyway.
and you still can't get in!

madamez · 15/05/2007 14:15

Lazyline makes the very important point that peole who are free from religion have just as much of a right to have their feelings, viewpoints and opinions respected as religious believers do.
It's also true that secular ceremonies (consider me as having inserted a quick plug for humanist ones in here) are a good way to throw a party, get the family together, etc, and can be tailored to suit the people concerned.
My DS isn't christened because I'm free from religion and intend to raise him with an understanding of the various mythological systems but no need to subscribe to any of them.

amidaiwish · 15/05/2007 14:18

can i put another spin on it...

if you don't have the baby christened then it isn't part of a religion and it is a very big move/step to decide to do that as an adult, they are effectively excluded from it

if you do have the baby christened then it is up to them when they are older to take part or not.

so i see that getting them christened actually gives them the choice, not the other way round.

what harm does it do anyway? i think it's a lovely ceremony for a little one to celebrate their life. I have never felt that it is about getting rid of evil!?! wtf?

amidaiwish · 15/05/2007 14:19

oh and littlelapin, it is not true that if a child dies without being baptised it does not enter heaven.
that idea has been firmly rejected by the church, publicly, years ago.

my dh isn't christened, do i think when we all die he will be left floating while me and dd's are in heaven. no i don't.

hippmummy · 15/05/2007 14:19

You can't baptise your baby into a religion with which you actively disagree with many aspects of. Your ILs are being deeply innappropriate and unreasonable in suggesting that you do.
Some things can't just be done to keep the peace and, as someone else mentioned, your IL's would then expect your child to be raised in the faith. Would you be happy doing this, or letting them take over doing this?
If it's important to you, stick to your guns.

Aloha · 15/05/2007 14:33

Who says it is about getting rid of evil? Um, the Church for a start. Otherwise what is all that stuff about being washed with water to be 'clean in God's sight' and the 'cleansing of sin'?

I find it all rather horrible, tbh. Would hate to have anyone describe my baby in those terms.

As for choice, well it hardly increases choice, does it? The choice to have no religion, to be Jewish, Bhuddist...?

LazyLine · 15/05/2007 15:31

amidaiwish, you may think it's a lovely little ceremony with no harm done, but you should realise that a lot of people don't think that way.

I feel it's quite unfair that those without a religious set of beliefs are often cast aside as if we have no principles or as if we stand for nothing and as such, should be able to get our children christened without a second thought.

Would you expect a Christian to go through with a Muslim ceremony to appease a relative? I can't see that many would, regardless of the religions in question. Why should it be different for someone who is not religious?

Why can people not see that it might be offensive to suggest to an athiest that they have a Christian ritual performed on their child, endorsing a set of beliefs that they see to be fake and made-up? I can imagine a religious person taking offense if the situation were reversed.

berolina · 15/05/2007 15:37


ds is baptised, but in your position I would not have gone through with a baptism just to please the ILs. You can have a non-faith birth celebration/welcoming ceremony and possibly ask your ILs' priest to say a prayer for the baby. That would be as far as I would go in your position.

I'm CofE, dh is humanist and didn't take any active part in ds's baptism, although he was in attendance. He also refused to be godfather to his niece because he couldn't make the promises - the only correct course of action, IMO.

hayes · 15/05/2007 15:39

how about holding a baby naming ceremony, not founded on any religion, just a celebration of your little ones existance

Stigaloid · 15/05/2007 15:41

I wouldn't go through with it to keep them happy. At a christening you have to make promises in the house of God that you will raise your child to know that faith etc. It would be more of an insult to make false promises in their place of worship than it would to say that you appreciate that they may wish to advise your child of their religion, but you wish to leave it up to your child at an older stage in his/her life to make up their own mind and choose.

You can always have a non-denominational naming ceremony if that would suit. But be honest. Tell them that you respect their faith and decision - enough so that you can not lie in their house of worship - which would be more of a mockery than not going through with it at all.

LazyLine · 15/05/2007 15:47

I think berolina offers a nice alternative. Someone can say a prayer for your child and you don't have to compromise.

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