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Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.
The offensive part about baptism is that it implies that these beautiful, adorable, lovable infants are actually evil and deserving of eternal torture in hell…. unless a voodoo king (i.e. priest) says some magic mumbo jumbo words over the baby to remove the baby’s inherent evilness.
There are better contexts that can be created for a party to celebrate a new baby.
Same tactic for every scam:
1- Invent a problem
2- Claim your product is the only solution
Baptism doesn’t wash away any evilness. These kooks still consider everybody fundamentally corrupt. All baptism does is mark you as a member of a religious community. Your inherent sin still requires a lifetime of kissing God’s ass if you want to avoid Hell.
Actually it depends on the Christian group what exactly baptism means. The RC certainly believe it does and at one time (circa Constantine) it was fairly common to delay baptism since it did wipe out all accumulated sins but it only worked once (after you could confess and be reconciled but that might require penance and take time). Constantine wasn’t baptized until dying.
It might be appropriate to have a humanist naming ceremony to present, name, and celebrate a new child. It could even include naming those whose help the parents would like in raising the child.
I agree with you on the secular “welcome-my-kid-to-the-world”-type ceremony. Perhaps it’s because I have a goddaughter (I was 14 when I was asked to be her godmother in the RCC. I didn’t give it any thought — I don’t think I agreed with the vows even then.) We have a really fantastic relationship and I consider her a sorta-daughter. The idea of godparents as folks who will be there to support the kid and be role models is easily adaptable for nonreligious people. We just need a new name.
Like, backup parents or something. Yeah, I think it’s important for children to have non-familial role models and guides. I also think those role models and guides should be diverse — black, white, asian, native, able-bodied, disabled, LGBTQI, straight, whatever. Kids need other adults they can go to for advice and to bounce ideas off of and stuff.
We had a lovely naming ceremony and party for my daughter, to introduce her to friends, neighbours and family and to celebrate her joining us in the world. Everyone wrote wishes for her future on coloured paper which we’ve kept for her.
I thought a christening is done to a boat? Were they planning to break a bottle of wine over a newborn’s face?
Been here. I strongly objected. Both sides of the family are Catholic. I lost, daughter got baptized. The compromise was we didn’t throw a big party, kept it low-key, and I didn’t have to participate if I didn’t want to. The only supportive person on the day for me was my wife: when the priest asked us all to come up to the fountain, she made it a point to allow me to stand back and not say any of the vows. I got dirty looks from the rest of the family, and then had to field phone calls from extended family offended for not being invited. now that it’s done, nobody says a thing about it. It’s really as if it never happened. The priest knew I was an atheist. Didn’t make a point of it on the day, or say anything which seemed antagonistic.
As much as we’d all like to think we can stand up to the bullshit for what seems to be the sake of a chorus of anonymous internet voices, at the end of the day, Atheists like me have to put up with our family on a daily basis. We choose our battles so we can focus on being part of a family, and hoping we can be the godless role-model to our kids regardless if the pope thinks he’s chalked up another soul for jesus.
If you’re able to win the fight, good for you. You did what I couldn’t. My kid’s a curious, happy and bright girl. The baptism was one moment in one day, and the worst to come out of it is some people will stubbornly believe the symbolism of the act is more important than the years I have to spend with her nurturing that curiosity and inquisitive nature about the world.
If your wife eas supportive, then why this let them do it? The first persons an atheist must know how to fuck off when necessary are family. Of course, unless they support you or you lived with, that’s the only acceptable way. I’d just tell them: My child, my choice. You can do wathever the hell you want with yours, but leave mine out of you BS.
Sorry, I didn’t understand any of that. Don’t even know who you are, so by default you’re left out of my BS.
by “you” BS I meant your family’s bullshit about baptizing children. In short, Why did you let them have it their way? It was your children not theirs.
Cos when you have a child with someone, it’s as much theirs as it is yours. This was my wife’s decision to baptize. She was supportive of my views by not insisting I be part of it, or be as much a part as I wished. In a marriage, you compromise. Besides, I have to live with them, not you. It’s my wife I have to respect and love, not some random voice on the internet who I will probably never meet. if it pisses you off, so be it. I relate to the above post, which is why I commented.
“With soap, baptism is a good thing.”
The last church service I was at was my friend’s daughter’s baptism in April. Earlier in the service they had a little “children’s time” thing where they had all the little kids come up to the front and one of the choir members led them in a little game wherein she basically told them they were all sheep. Then in the sermon the minister was talking about how she doesn’t like to be referred to as a sheep…
Luckily no one was looking my way to see me rolling my eyes.
The party afterwards was nice, though.
Wait. Since when do you need an excuse to party?
Dunno. The good news is that if “sky fairy says my baby isn’t going to a mythical place of eternal punishment day” qualifies, then the bar is set so low as to be effectively nonexistent.
I hereby declare tomorrow to be coloured paperclip day. Happy Coloured Paperclip Day, everyone!
Now let’s all get wasted on microbrews and have freaky weird sex that’s illegal in 7 states!
(Apologies to The Oatmeal)
There’s a couple calendars just for that, actually.
When my son was baptised, I named my atheist friend the godfather, to balance everything up
I live in the UK and was brought up Church of England where christening / baptism is the norm. I am now a strong atheist. In recent years many of my family have become Born Again and I find myself agreeing with their belief that Baptism can only be meaningful when done as a consenting adult.
Sadly, for believers, the Catholic Church still has not officially repudiated the Limbo of infants whereby they can never get heaven.
But convincing believers of the wrongness of indoctrination of children is a pretty hopeless task.
Why not have a Humanist Naming Ceremony instead? All the good bits of celebrating your child and showing them off with none of the implication that there was anything wrong with them!
I was christened RLDS. We see how well that worked out…
Can’t you just have a party?!
I mean, I don’t want kids, and if I did, and chose to have them I would tell everyone else to kiss off and my child would be choosing the faith of his or her preference when they can actually decide such things.
A young friend of mine joined my roommate’s church and had a baptism at something like 15. I was the only one of the household who didn’t go up on the dais to promise to support him in his faith. At the time I wasn’t an atheist, but I certainly wasn’t a Christian, and to support him in something I didn’t believe in seemed hypocritical to me.
Turned out somewhat Kemetic (with a dash of Wicca).
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