Author Topic: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?  (Read 2165 times)

yourusernamehere

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Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« on: July 06, 2018, 03:35:46 PM »
Hello brilliant mustache hive!

Cutting right to it, I am deeply against Christening/baptism or other religious ceremonies meant to officially enter our baby (due this December) into the church. I am not just ambivalent about religion, I believe it's harmful to indoctrinate children into the idea that you should behave in certain ways out of fear of eternal punishment. And it would go against my beliefs and values to go into someone's church and flat out lie just to appease family. (Yes, I'm a real joy. DH is still trying to negotiate Santa Claus even!) He has asked me to be open-minded, and I did not respond well. So I'm now turning to you for help with being open-minded, and possibly useful suggestions for some alternative that we could both live with.

DH is Agnostic and has mixed feelings about a Christening. He grew up Catholic and it's generally assumed in his family that there will be a big family celebration and baptism. He is already getting pressure from his relatives to plan this thing out, and has brought up concerns that his family will have to explain to their friends how they "let us" not have the child christened. And that it may cause tension as they will not approve. (This is the part where I told him I give exactly zero shits about making explanations convenient for someone who isn't a parent of our little girl, and I'd rather just tell people flat out that we're not doing it instead of tiptoeing around like criminals. Also I unnecessarily reiterated EXACTLY ZERO SHITS because I apparently get emotional about this topic.) I asked if it would be something HE wanted, and he said he's not sure, but he thinks maybe. Not necessarily a church ceremony, but something where we can celebrate. So, because I love him and care about his feelings on the matter, I want to try to figure this out.

What say you, mustachians? Got any advice on how I can calm myself and respond in a constructive way in the moment when we're having these discussions? Or suggestions on alternatives that wouldn't entail any remotely christian/religious aspect but would still feel ceremonial?

Thank you for any help!
« Last Edit: July 06, 2018, 09:27:52 PM by yourusernamehere »

Papa bear

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2018, 04:12:35 PM »
You will let your child grow up and explore different religions and backgrounds and let them make their own choice.  Harder to argue against that.

I grew up that way and so did my wife. And so will my children.


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yourusernamehere

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2018, 04:22:41 PM »
Thanks Papa Bear. Exactly, I just want us to raise her to think for herself and make her own decisions about her spirituality. I have friends and acquaintances who have had full-on brawls over this issue, even threats of irate family members having the child baptized without the parents' permission, so I know it's a sensitive topic. I feel lucky he was very chill with me while I melted down about even considering it.

I've been reading about secular naming/guideparent ceremonies, and it sounds like that could be nice. I also do like the idea of having "official" adult mentors for our little girl, whom she can rely on for guidance. I will have to see if DH would like something like that.

peeps_be_peeping

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2018, 04:27:33 PM »
How about you throw a party where you invite all your friends and family to meet the new baby? Call it whatever you want. A trusted friend could ceremonially "bless" the baby with a copy of the book A Brief History of Time tucked under the arm and a sprinkle of "dark matter" (or glitter) on baby's brow. When relatives start asking questions about christening just feign complete ignorance and refuse to engage. The earlier you set boundaries with pushy relatives the better.

kei te pai

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2018, 08:00:17 PM »
How about a "cherishing ceremony"? Invite family and friends to celebrate your baby's life in accordance with your family's spirituality. Dont need to define any further what that spirituality is.
Ask either a family member or special friend (or celebrant) to give thanks for the new arrival, may be a reading that is significant for you, a song or two, and shared food.
If there are any complaints/arguments, just repeat that you wish to have your spirituality respected. No further explanation.

nnls

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2018, 08:21:36 PM »
My friends did a "naming ceremony" so they chose two people who acted as like God parent roles but weren't called God parents but ere acknowledged as people who would help with the baby and guide them and had someone say a few words about welcoming the baby into the world and how all the people there were going to help and protect them in life. And then had a big BBQ, it was a way for extended family to have a celebration for the baby.

There was no mention of religion at all   

tralfamadorian

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2018, 08:53:22 PM »
I know someone who had a ceremony at a local, tiny, non-denominational quasi chapel where the parents read an excerpt from The Prophet and dedicated the child “to a good life” or something along those lines. I believe they were in a similar situation to you- nonreligious but receiving lots of family pressure for a christening.

Emerald

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2018, 07:56:19 AM »
I recommend looking for a Unitarian Universalist church near you. 

Psychstache

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2018, 08:13:40 AM »
Just out of curiosity, what 'flavor' of wedding did y'all have? I'm guessing not a big Catholic ceremony given your original post, but did you still have a ceremony? lots of family? elope?

I ask because I wonder how that went over with family and if it still a topic of conversation or if that blew over.

For today, you and DH will need to work out a plan for how you want to move forward with celebrating your new baby (Mazel Tov, by the way!) in a way that makes both of you comfortable.

Long term, you have a bigger issue that needs to be addressing in the family dynamics. Don't think this is the last time there will be friction about parenting and lifestyle choices from DH's family. The will continue to get pressure from their community that they will then transfer to DH which will come to you. The two of you need to come up with a framework about how you are going to deal with these kinds of issues that will repeatedly come up from the fam.

I think a great place to start would be for each of you to pick up a copy of Boundaries by Henry Cloud and do a 'couples book study'. You can talk through some of the strategies and spend some quality time together on a shared activity.

Good Luck!

yourusernamehere

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2018, 08:39:24 AM »
Just out of curiosity, what 'flavor' of wedding did y'all have? I'm guessing not a big Catholic ceremony given your original post, but did you still have a ceremony? lots of family? elope?


Ha indeed- We had a lovely small ceremony at the home of the family members now asking about the christening. A family member got ordained and married us. It was beautiful and they were very honored. They show the video to everyone they know, and it's been almost 5 years. I'm glad you brought this up, I think it helps me see that they may be more open than I am giving them credit for. I also should clarify, I don't think the actual conversation about this went that far. I believe it was an offhand comment about the new area we're looking at and how the community center there would be perfect for a Christening, and then went DH and I talked about it he brought up the additional concerns just based on his experience with the extended family.

This has been lovely advice everyone. I do plan to look into the Unitarian universalist church when we move, as well as the local secular organizations. I hadn't thought of that for a naming ceremony kind of thing but it's a great idea. Thank you everyone for the suggestions!

Hargrove

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2018, 11:38:18 PM »
So, the good news is, at least you're trying to have this conversation now!

The wedding question is a good one because traditionally recognized Catholic marriage 1) must be done by a priest and 2) must be done in the church and 3) is accompanied by pre-Cana classes (assuming there wasn't a dispensation). You may already be in a very flexible place as far as the ceremonies go, so, yes, it's a good sign the family is more flexible than you're giving them credit for, if you were able to do what you described. Also, traditionally, Catholic weddings to non-Catholics include a promise (and acknowledgement thereof) that the children will be raised Catholic, through every effort of the Catholic parent. Though, if you were brought up Catholic, you may have skipped some of this.

If your husband is agnostic, and this promise wasn't part of your wedding, you have a fair reason to ask your husband why he would baptize your child. He sounds like he has no intention of bringing him/her up with the church, and the issue seems to cause you a lot of distress. All the paths from here have trade-offs.

Theological discussion may or may not be of help to you - there are plenty of fine reasons people are Catholic that aren't about fear of punishment, and no one was ever indoctrinated by being baptized as an infant and then never going to church - but more importantly, I'd like to comment on your "zero shits" statement. The only reason for anger here is to defend yourself against a feared outcome, and it sounds like you fear your primacy as a parent may be overridden by an overbearing family. You have the opportunity to set boundaries to prevent that and you have a right to do so, though it will probably go much more smoothly if you're not angry when you're doing it.

So on the "how to be calm" half, I suggest telling yourself that you're not "giving more than zero shits" just to get trampled. You don't have to be trampled at all. You may find some value, say, in networking and building family ties for yourself, your relationship with DH, and your child's relationship with the grandparents. That does not require capitulation of your beliefs, or necessarily of theirs, so you may be preparing to throw down for the Alamo a little earlier than is actually needed (if it's needed at all). This wasn't such a huge priority for either of you that you went about settling it before getting married, so that may be a strong sign that this needn't be a lose-all/win-all situation for you, or for his family. My fiancee is Catholic, and she and I talked about it, her family and I talked about it, she and her family talked about it, the priest talked about it in pre-Cana... so it's probably not as big a situation in your case as you think! Best of luck to you.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 12:34:41 AM by Hargrove »

Livethedream

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2018, 07:02:19 AM »
We are practicing Christians, non-denominational.

For both our boys we did a Baby Dedication at our church. It simply states as parents we will do our best to raise our child in a loving manner that is pleasing to God. Family and other church members are asked to stand and affirm that they will have some role in raising the kid since they are part of our community, and to have the same guidelines for raising and hold us accountable.

There is no infant babtism, “soul saving”, or indoctrination that takes place.

If you are truly trying to remove religion you could do a similar baby dedication and right a list of things that you both will strive to do as parents to raise your child in a loving matter that you see fit and to ask support from friends and family in respecting and achieving these goals.

Best of luck to you!

FIRE@50

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2018, 07:20:14 AM »
I allowed my daughter to be baptized in a church because it was important to my wife. I didn't invite anyone from my family to attend. We had a small party at a friends house afterwards.

Teachstache

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2018, 08:04:31 AM »
I grew up in the Catholic faith, attending Catholic school from K-12, going to weekly mass with my family, both sides of my extended family are practicing Catholics. I am an agnostic who is married to a militant atheist. Spouse and I have a 3.5 year old son. We married in a small, immediate family only secular ceremony 10 years ago (married by a judge). Our son isn't baptized or indoctrinated into any religion, although spouse said that if it was truly important to me, he'd accept it. It isn't important to me.

We had the conversation early on with my parents & they accepted our choice, although they aren't in favor of it. Our son is their first grandchild, and they were hoping (but not optimistic) that we'd baptize him.

They got their big family Catholic Church wedding with my sister & her husband & they also baptized their daughter in the Catholic faith, she'll attend Catholic school, etc.

I'd advise having the conversation with your in laws early & make it as straightforward as possible without trying to be critical of their faith or antagonistic toward their beliefs. Just my $.02.

merula

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2018, 09:03:44 AM »
I told my very-religious parents that if adult baptism was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for my kids. They were pissed to begin with, but managed to get over it when presented with a newborn.

Although I'm 99.9% sure my mother has stealth-baptized my children.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2018, 10:53:12 AM »
There are a lot of good ideas here!  I'm glad that you and your husband are having these conversations, and that you are both willing to compromise, because that will be crucial as your baby grows - when one parent comes from a religious background, many of the rites play a big role in the culture as well as the religion, and that can be a tricky balancing act.

I'm mostly agnostic now.  I attend church very rarely, mostly out of lifelong ingrained guilt.  My ex is either agnostic or atheist, but he allows his mother to take the children to church with her when they are visiting her.  My current husband is militantly atheist like you.

We are raising the children with education - some people believe X, others believe Y, others don't believe in a higher being, etc - and tolerance - we respect other people's devoutly held beliefs even if we disagree.  They get to decide one day what, if anything, they want to explore in more depth.   

This doesn't go over well with all o f the family.  My VERY Catholic grandmother and VERY Catholic mother-in-law prayed very fervently for us and our children when we didn't get them christened. My VERY evangelical cousins were convinced that we're heathens.

<shrug> If it was broached to us, we just said "thank you for your concern.  We appreciate how much you love <kid>." and changed the subject.

My daughter asked to be baptized when she was 11.  I made her wait a year to make sure she was serious.  When my nephew (her age) found out, he asked to be baptized too.  So my sister and I had a joint ceremony for the kids at the local Methodist church (fewer rules).  My ex asked our daughter why she wanted to be baptized and then agreed to the ceremony, although he didn't attend.  My husband attended to support my daughter, even though he thought it was all bunk.

My 9-year-old flatly refused to be baptized and is under strict instructions to not mention religion to any of his grandmothers.  He's going to give my mom a stroke if he tells her one more time he doesn't believe in God.  It's a good learning opportunity for him to realize that people can believe different things and it's okay...and that he doesn't need to try to convince them to believe what he believes and he can politely stop the conversation if someone tries to convert him.

It's a balancing act, and it's one that will last many years.  Good luck!

I'm a red panda

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2018, 11:13:24 AM »
We just didn't baptise our daughter. A few people asked us when it would be, and we said we didn't know (we hadn't actively decided not to do it at that time)- and now she's 16 months and they've stopped asking. Many Christian religions baptise when kids are older anyway, so it is really only a few that expect it at birth, so you could always say "we are going to let her decide to be baptised" (which would be true, I assume you wouldn't actively stop her).

I was talking to a friend about my conflicting feelings about not baptising my daughter, mostly because my father really expected it.  She offered to throw the baby a Wiccaning instead, as she just really thinks the baby needs a welcoming blessing.  My response "I'm not really sure that is going to help my father's concern, but what a nice gesture." 

I'm a red panda

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2018, 11:18:20 AM »
I told my very-religious parents that if adult baptism was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for my kids. They were pissed to begin with, but managed to get over it when presented with a newborn.

Although I'm 99.9% sure my mother has stealth-baptized my children.

Assuming you are Catholic (not sure about other Christian religions; but Catholics seem to lean the heaviest to "must baptise now!") stealth-baptisms don't count.

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2X.HTM

Quote
. For an infant to be baptized licitly:
1/ the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent;

So unless your child was under immediate threat of death someone else can't just baptize them.  (If they were under the immediate threat of death, then she could have done it.)

I can't find it in canon, but when I was researching emergency baptism for my son (in case he was born alive) the priest told me if I (a female) did it, if the baby survived it would have to be "redone". So even if she did baptize them under immediate threat of death, if they didn't die, it still might not count.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2018, 11:22:41 AM by I'm a red panda »

merula

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2018, 04:06:09 PM »
Assuming you are Catholic (not sure about other Christian religions; but Catholics seem to lean the heaviest to "must baptise now!") stealth-baptisms don't count.

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2X.HTM

Quote
. For an infant to be baptized licitly:
1/ the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent;

So unless your child was under immediate threat of death someone else can't just baptize them.  (If they were under the immediate threat of death, then she could have done it.)

I can't find it in canon, but when I was researching emergency baptism for my son (in case he was born alive) the priest told me if I (a female) did it, if the baby survived it would have to be "redone". So even if she did baptize them under immediate threat of death, if they didn't die, it still might not count.

Lutheran, actually. Since the religion is basically Catholicism but with fewer rules, it's probably acceptable to perform a baptism as a layperson and a woman, but I would expect the deceit piece to be an issue in any faith. I couldn't find any specific statement from the ELCA about it though. (That's the problem with a direct connection to God, there's no one to answer your questions!)

I don't actually care if she gave them a bath that had symbolic meaning to her and not to me, I mostly find it funny that she's willing to violate two Commandments in pursuit of her faith.

frugalmom

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2018, 10:02:24 PM »
In many cultures babies are not introduced until 100 days of life has past.  It a tradition to protect the mother and child up until that date, to allow bonding, and also because of high infant mortality rates.

You could have a 100 days party and invite everyone!  If you just make it a celebration of life, no one may ask any questions.


Sibley

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2018, 07:39:11 AM »
I attended a naming ceremony for a friend's baby. As far as I could tell, it was a giant party to introduce the baby (about 4 months old) to the family/friends. Lots of fun by all, baby was pretty social so didn't mind it. In her culture, the fear of losing a newborn is much more present, and their traditions reflect it.

Re Santa - sorry to say it, but if you live in the US, you never even had a swing in that battle. If you don't do Santa with your kid(s), then you'll have ALL the other parents mad at you for spoiling it for their kids. That doesn't mean you have to do all the BS around Santa, but you're not going to be able to get away with nothing.

2Cent

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2018, 10:58:52 AM »
Quote
Cutting right to it, I am deeply against Christening/baptism or other religious ceremonies meant to officially enter our baby (due this December) into the church. I am not just ambivalent about religion, I believe it's harmful to indoctrinate children into the idea that you should behave in certain ways out of fear of eternal punishment.
Hmm. I think that's a pretty medival view of Christianity. Even the catholic church has come a long way away from fear and rules to the more love based teaching Jesus was preaching. 

Of course you shouldn't lie to appease the inlaws, but I always think it's a bit sad when people make things explicitly non-religious. I much more like a thanksgiving type thing where it gets all the positive things without pushing people into one corner or the other. Live and let live. Of course if your family is overstepping their boundaries this will become harder, but from your other comments I don't think that's such a problem.

koshtra

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #22 on: July 13, 2018, 11:32:16 AM »
In France, some 60% of people self-identify as "irreligious" and some 60% self-identify as "Catholic" ... so there has to be a considerable overlap there. You can take your rites and ceremonies as you find them -- they're often beautiful and moving -- and translate them to something that makes sense in your own mind and heart. I think that often works better than trying to make them up or trying to find someone somewhere who does something that exactly fits.

I know that runs against the grain of American earnestness, but if I were married to a kinda sorta Catholic I think I might go that route. You don't have to import the hell and brimstone into your daily lives. (& If you shop around also you can probably find a church that doesn't go in much for hell and brimstone in the first place.)

yourusernamehere

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #23 on: July 13, 2018, 03:00:53 PM »
I'm sure the debate will continue on, but I just wanted to pop in and say thanks again for the suggestions. I love the 100 days party idea, and some other suggestions were very helpful as well.

jpdx

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #24 on: July 15, 2018, 12:11:45 AM »
A person should have to "opt in" to a religion, not "opt out."

Since it's impossible for an infant to understand and consent to christening/baptism, it's not acceptable to force this upon them. Religious beliefs are a personal decision, which they will make when they are of appropriate age. It's not the parent's choice, and certainly not the extended family's choice.

Good for you for exploring other ways to celebrate your new child. Congrats!
« Last Edit: July 15, 2018, 12:19:23 AM by jpdx »

Dee18

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #25 on: July 15, 2018, 09:03:03 AM »
The Unitarian church holds a child dedication ceremony.  That might provide a model for you.
https://www.uua.org/beliefs/what-we-do/celebrations/births

kdinosaur

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #26 on: August 20, 2018, 05:21:05 PM »
Allright, I have to say, I feel for your husband. I married an agnostic, and I never realized how much the Catholic faith had gotten into my brain until we had a child. We had a courthouse wedding (saved money), and my family was pissed and skipped it, but I wasn't bothered in the least. I've been able to leave a lot of my upbringing behind, but for whatever reason, the religion stuff just won't leave me alone when it comes to my daughter. My husband really didn't want to baptize our daughter for the same reasons you mention. I just kept worrying about limbo.

I visited five churches (Two Roman Catholic, Ecumenical Catholic, Unitarian Universalist, and Episcopalian). The Catholic churches required just what you'd expect, a commitment to raise the child in the Catholic church. I didn't feel right about that, since I don't know that I would do that. The Episcopalian church in my town just clicked; I explained that I was a Catholic and felt a need to baptize my child based on the beliefs of that religion (I was having intense nightmares every week, to give you an idea of how deep seated it goes for me!) and the priest suggested I have a couple conversations, and if it was a good fit, eventually join their church, and baptize our kid. I expressed wanting to do it "right away" and she still made me wait--6 months. She said in the Episcopal faith, this baptizing at birth to avoid Limbo is something I can calm down about (Imagine that. And yes, I know the Limbo stuff has been revised, but that is what I was raised with. Your husband might believe that too, even if he says otherwise).

I also considered doing a non-denominational ceremony, there were plenty of people who would take my money to perform this, so that might also be a good option, but what I was looking for was a deeper commitment to a community. I'm not fervently religious, but religion was the best thing in my upbringing, so I want to give my daughter the same benefits, (you know, in case I suck at all other parts of parenting). Good luck with whatever you decide.

libertarian4321

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #27 on: August 20, 2018, 05:37:12 PM »
Reading through all these post about religious ceremonies, pressure, stress, and indoctrination makes me think you will be doing your child a big favor by NOT bowing to pressure and "bringing him into the church" (any of them).

My head hurts just reading this stuff.  I can't imagine actually having to go through it.

My parents were RINOs (Religious in Name Only) and never foisted any religion upon me, allowing me to make my own rational decision when I was old enough to do so,  for which I am thankful.


Spiffy

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #28 on: August 29, 2018, 12:37:14 PM »
Gosh, this is a hard one. I may be unpopular for saying this, but look at it from the point of view of your husband's side of the family. If they really are Christians, it must be heartbreaking for them that the child will not be baptized. If they are just casual church goers and are only worried about what other people think, then don't worry about it and do what ever you want. But if they are serious about their religion, maybe just go along with it knowing that, for you, it doesn't signify anything, but for them it does.  Also, I am Episcopalian. "Limbo" has never been a thing for us. I know many people think that we are "Catholic Light" but there are many, many differences, and this is one of them.

letired

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #29 on: August 29, 2018, 02:48:00 PM »
One of the internet's greatest gifts to me was suggesting that there could be a distinction made between the 'culture' of a religion, the practice of that religion, and the actual religious belief. I first saw it in relation to Judaism. There are Jewish folks who both do not believe in the higher power, but still partake of some of the cultural traditions and identify as culturally Jewish. Obviously, Catholicism has many significant differences both as a culture and a religion, but it has helped me navigate the stormy waters of my Catholic upbringing and subsequent agnosticism. There are a lot of Catholic traditions and teachings that I find sentimental, emotionally moving, and/or useful. If I frame it for myself as being culturally Catholic, I can pick which things I hang onto, which I can leave behind, and which I transmute into something new.

Best of luck coming up with something that works for you!

moof

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #30 on: August 29, 2018, 03:11:44 PM »
We took our kid home and changed his diapers.  We have never felt in the slightest like we skipped a step or missed out.  Why replace a ceremony when you can skip needless cruft?

ixtap

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #31 on: August 29, 2018, 03:14:25 PM »
One of the internet's greatest gifts to me was suggesting that there could be a distinction made between the 'culture' of a religion, the practice of that religion, and the actual religious belief. I first saw it in relation to Judaism. There are Jewish folks who both do not believe in the higher power, but still partake of some of the cultural traditions and identify as culturally Jewish. Obviously, Catholicism has many significant differences both as a culture and a religion, but it has helped me navigate the stormy waters of my Catholic upbringing and subsequent agnosticism. There are a lot of Catholic traditions and teachings that I find sentimental, emotionally moving, and/or useful. If I frame it for myself as being culturally Catholic, I can pick which things I hang onto, which I can leave behind, and which I transmute into something new.

Best of luck coming up with something that works for you!

My husband is atheist and I am agnostic, but we see both families on Christmas day. I love the lights and the songs (well, for one day, I could do without the other two to three months of songs) and the hope and the warm things midwinter and the kids getting excited and making the other adults smile and...

Cassie

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #32 on: August 29, 2018, 03:47:47 PM »
I was raised Lutheran but as a adult didn’t attend church. My husband was a atheist. My parents started to inquire when we would baptize and I kept putting it off. Then I found out my wonderful grandma was really upset so I had a ceremony even though he was 2 at the time.  The other 2 I had done as babies. It meant a lot to the older generations so I saw it as a small thing to do. My kids are long grown now and between ages 38-45.   

LinneaH

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #33 on: August 30, 2018, 05:50:46 AM »
First of all, I live in Sweden so probably very different with traditions. Also, none of us were raised in religious families or believe in God or any other.
We married in church since my husband is/was very traditional - that's the way to do it. I didn't need to but I did not mind as it was important to him.

Then, he wanted to have a baptism ceremony in a church for our first kid. However, before we decided, close friends had for the daughter, it was very serious and religious, which made him change his mind totally and we have chosen not to have any ceremonies at all. (kids are now 7 & 5 so not going to happen.) This is probably due to me not being comfortable in these situations and not wanting to arrange anything. Also, I am not very close w/my extended family...

But I have been at three lovely name-giving ceremonies. One was outdoors in nature, in a lovely spot with a view, where the father proposed some years earlier. One was indoors in a decorated barn and one in a garden & in the house. For all, they were focused on two things; a presentation of the new human being to the relatives and friends and a welcoming from relatives and friends (gifts but also speeches, songs and poems. and lots of good food :-)). One thing that really stood out was when the parents talked about the names they had chosen; talking about which older relatives the were picked from and short presentation/history of that relative, and also letting people know of the kid's "own name" (=not from any relative) and why they had chosen that.

Pigeon

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #34 on: August 30, 2018, 06:37:43 AM »
I was raised in a huge, very Catholic family and dh's parents were Baptists.  We're both stone cold atheists.

I was just perfectly straight about it.  They knew we weren't church goers.  No baptism was happening.  We're not superstitious and neither of us enjoy ritual in any way.  My parents got their opportunity to force their religion down my throat.  In no way was the religious upbringing of my children any of their business. 

We had family parties for the baby.  We just invited people over for a party to meet the child.  No religion, no ritual.  Good food and drink, plus cake.  I'm sure my parents were disappointed, but they knew enough to shut up about it.  I'm also fairly certain my mother did the stealth baptism on my oldest in the kitchen sink at some point as my older sister (also very Catholic) told her off for doing it.  Whatever.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #35 on: August 30, 2018, 07:53:43 AM »
Gosh, this is a hard one. I may be unpopular for saying this, but look at it from the point of view of your husband's side of the family. If they really are Christians, it must be heartbreaking for them that the child will not be baptized. If they are just casual church goers and are only worried about what other people think, then don't worry about it and do what ever you want. But if they are serious about their religion, maybe just go along with it knowing that, for you, it doesn't signify anything, but for them it does. Also, I am Episcopalian. "Limbo" has never been a thing for us. I know many people think that we are "Catholic Light" but there are many, many differences, and this is one of them.

What church near you lets you just "go along with it"?
I might not be actively religious anymore, but I still have a thing against lying. So to outright say I will raise my child Christian when I have no intention to is a pretty giant lie.
Not to mention the hours of baptismal classes, and the thousands of dollars spent for travel costs.

I was going to baptize my daughter to make my father happy; but the lying thing really got me. I couldn't say the things they make the parents say during the baptism.

I also truly don't believe God would punish my child for MY actions rather than hers.


And to note, most Catholics don't believe in limbo either, certainly it was never part of the dogma. Rather, it is just unknown what happens to infants who have not been baptised. Limbo was one hypothesis. (Limbo and purgatory are not the same thing.)
Here's another: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html

Spiffy

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #36 on: August 30, 2018, 09:08:05 AM »
Gosh, this is a hard one. I may be unpopular for saying this, but look at it from the point of view of your husband's side of the family. If they really are Christians, it must be heartbreaking for them that the child will not be baptized. If they are just casual church goers and are only worried about what other people think, then don't worry about it and do what ever you want. But if they are serious about their religion, maybe just go along with it knowing that, for you, it doesn't signify anything, but for them it does. Also, I am Episcopalian. "Limbo" has never been a thing for us. I know many people think that we are "Catholic Light" but there are many, many differences, and this is one of them.

What church near you lets you just "go along with it"?
I might not be actively religious anymore, but I still have a thing against lying. So to outright say I will raise my child Christian when I have no intention to is a pretty giant lie.
Not to mention the hours of baptismal classes, and the thousands of dollars spent for travel costs.

I was going to baptize my daughter to make my father happy; but the lying thing really got me. I couldn't say the things they make the parents say during the baptism.

I also truly don't believe God would punish my child for MY actions rather than hers.


And to note, most Catholics don't believe in limbo either, certainly it was never part of the dogma. Rather, it is just unknown what happens to infants who have not been baptised. Limbo was one hypothesis. (Limbo and purgatory are not the same thing.)
Here's another: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html
I wasn't suggesting that she lie. I was suggesting that she let her husband and his family have the child baptised. She does not have to stand up and say she will raise the child as a Christian. She doesn't even have to attend if she doesn't want to. To my knowledge there is no class requirement for infant baptisms. And I guess I don't understand the thousands of dollars for travel statement.

Pigeon

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #37 on: August 30, 2018, 09:34:39 AM »
The OP mentioned that her partner was raised Catholic.  If they were to try to have the baby baptized in the Catholic church, they would indeed need to indicate that they intend to raise the kid Catholic and attend classes.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #38 on: August 30, 2018, 09:38:11 AM »
Gosh, this is a hard one. I may be unpopular for saying this, but look at it from the point of view of your husband's side of the family. If they really are Christians, it must be heartbreaking for them that the child will not be baptized. If they are just casual church goers and are only worried about what other people think, then don't worry about it and do what ever you want. But if they are serious about their religion, maybe just go along with it knowing that, for you, it doesn't signify anything, but for them it does. Also, I am Episcopalian. "Limbo" has never been a thing for us. I know many people think that we are "Catholic Light" but there are many, many differences, and this is one of them.

What church near you lets you just "go along with it"?
I might not be actively religious anymore, but I still have a thing against lying. So to outright say I will raise my child Christian when I have no intention to is a pretty giant lie.
Not to mention the hours of baptismal classes, and the thousands of dollars spent for travel costs.

I was going to baptize my daughter to make my father happy; but the lying thing really got me. I couldn't say the things they make the parents say during the baptism.

I also truly don't believe God would punish my child for MY actions rather than hers.


And to note, most Catholics don't believe in limbo either, certainly it was never part of the dogma. Rather, it is just unknown what happens to infants who have not been baptised. Limbo was one hypothesis. (Limbo and purgatory are not the same thing.)
Here's another: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html
I wasn't suggesting that she lie. I was suggesting that she let her husband and his family have the child baptised. She does not have to stand up and say she will raise the child as a Christian. She doesn't even have to attend if she doesn't want to. To my knowledge there is no class requirement for infant baptisms. And I guess I don't understand the thousands of dollars for travel statement.

The thousands of dollars in travel costs was for me specifically. My family is not local. Either I had to travel to them or them to me. A baptism would have cost a lot of money- just to have the grandparents and two godparents (and finding at least one who is still Catholic is getting harder in my family.), not even extended family/ 

The OP said the family was Catholic. There is a class required.
Also that her husband was agnostic, not practicing. So one of the parents is going to have to lie if they stand up to have the infant baptized.

Among others, you must answer "I do" to:"
"Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God's commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?"

yourusernamehere

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Re: Atheist/Agnostic Christening Alternatives?
« Reply #39 on: August 30, 2018, 10:33:53 AM »
I haven't been back in this thread because I was really just asking for some casual suggestions, but I see you guys aregoing strong

Yes, for me, I'm not ok with lying about my intentions in a church ritual, pretending I'm ok with it to protect someone else's feelings, or waiting to set these kinds of boundaries. I don't think arranging a ceremony and asking everyone to travel 1200 miles to attend it just in the name of appeasement is going to work for us. That said, we all have to find balance with our families! Others have chosen more middle ground, and I get that. I'm some cases you can't put a price on sanity and keeping harmony. My in-laws know I'm an atheist and they are very accepting, despite the odd comment that I know is meant with the best intentions. My husband has not brought it up again and I really don't think it's actually important to HIM. If it turns out it is, we will discuss options, and thanks to your suggestions I now feel more equipped to have a productive conversation about it.