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Christenings - a farce for non-believers?

(138 Posts)
Twobabes Sat 03-Sep-11 11:24:56

I attended a christening recently and loved the setting and the ritual though I no longer believe anything religious. It really bothered me hearing godparents make vows that I know some of them did not believe in any more than I do.
I wish there was a beautiful naming and welcoming ceremony, with its own ritual but without all the "devil and all his works" type of stuff, for those who don't really believe in baptism but want to mark the arrival of their child. I know people make up their own, but I'd like an established non-religious ceremony, with gravity and no whimsiness, recognised as an alternative to something that increasing numbers no longer believe in - a new tradition.
A church baptism with belief is a meaningful occasion. Without belief, it seems to me, it is a farce.

jangly Sat 03-Sep-11 11:32:47

Nothing wrong with hedging your bets.

And you can have a nice tea afterwards.

No harm done.

susiecb Sat 03-Sep-11 11:38:31

I dread being invited to christenings these days the last two I went to reflected your experience Twobabes. At the tea afterwards I was invited by the babys mother to 'chuck the pressie on the pile'! None of our grandchildren are christened and while that is a bit of a sadness for us we would rather they didnt just do it for the party and the presents.

jangly Sat 03-Sep-11 11:50:01

I think it should be a quiet family thing really.

Jangran Sat 03-Sep-11 11:52:09

The trouble is, the church seems to have a monopoly on gravitas. Even weddings don't seem as legitimate unless there is a church service - and I speak as an atheist. One of the things that most annoyed me about my daughter's civil wedding was that she was not allowed to have music that was considered "religious by association" - even if it had not been composed originally for religious purposes.

I couldn't agree more that we need a proper authentic naming ceremony for each new baby - welcoming them to the community, and expressing good wishes for them as future citizens.

My favourite idea is to include new babies in on the already official citizenship ceremonies that new British citizens have. Not only would it be legitimate, it would also do away with the kind of stigma that may be associated with older new citizens. We could all celebrate their citizenship together.

glammanana Sat 03-Sep-11 11:53:42

At my DDs church (attached to the school) the whole congregation take's part in welcoming the child in to the church and they promise to look out for the welfare of the child and it's family,then we go into the Sunday School and celebrate with tea and biscuit's so there is no need for paying for an expensive "keep up with the Jones's party,any present's are given by the immediate family.

Twobabes Sat 03-Sep-11 12:00:07

That's a lovely way of doing things, gn. I'd like there to be a non-religious equivalent, too.

Jangran Sat 03-Sep-11 12:02:23

Yes, but it is still a religious welcome. Babies, almost invariably, are going to play a much more active part in society than in the church as they grow up, so it would make much more sense to welcome them to the whole community as citizens.

em Sat 03-Sep-11 12:08:36

One issue that doesn't exist in Scotland is the 'need' to attend church for the sake of school admissions - there are no voluntary aided schools here but the RC churches often have schools attached. In my own family there are several points of view. My own 3 and all 4 GCs were baptised because we felt strongly about it. My nephew and his wife chose not to have theirs baptised and we respected their choice. My mother however was horrified and harked back to her RC upbringing, muttering about the dire consequences for unchristened babies. I tried hard to convince her that individual choices should be respected and that they felt baptising the babies would be hypocritical. She never did accept that but at least she didn't do what another acquaintance did. She took her GGCs into the bathroom and had a DIY baptism on her own! Superstitious nonsense!

PoppaRob Sat 03-Sep-11 12:30:15

Here in Oz marriage celebrants are also licenced to perform naming ceremonies and funerals as well as weddings. I've been to some really nice naming ceremonies where the baby is welcomed to the group of friends and family, one or two songs are sung or some music is performed, there's usually a nice poem or piece of prose, and the parents ask a few closest friends to take a role in the guidance of the child through life... so it effectively has the trappings of a christening, complete with "godparent" type people. I'm officially a "Big Bang Father" to one of my mate's grandsons... it's nice.

The Australian singer/songwriter John Schumann wrote a song entitled "For The Children" which is a popular one, either as a performance piece or recorded or parts of it read as a poem...

The lady from the paper asked me would I write a song for you,
I didn't know you then but now I do.
And I'm stuck in this motel room with an empty aching heart,
And the miles roll out between us and they're tearing me apart…
All I've got are tunes and rhymes - this one's for you.

May you always feel the sunshine and take time to taste the rain,
May your friends be true and caring and I hope you are the same;
And in your fleeting passage, leave a little bit behind
For the children who will follow in your footsteps, along the sands of time.

I dreamed there was a world for you, without the rush of rockets
And the thump of khaki gunships in the sky…
But there were rows of eucalyptus and trains for little boys
And tadpoles in a still black creek and playgrounds full of noise;
In my vision, fear and greed and anger were the only things to die…

May the wind blow gently through your life, may your principles be strong;
May you stand up and be counted when they work out right from wrong…
May your nights be short and peaceful, may your days be warm and long;
May your music be a service…may they pause sometime and listen to your song

And here's this little voice, reaching down the phone,
"Dad you've been away so long, when are you coming home?"

May your eyes be filled with kindness, may the seeds of wisdom grow…
May you seek for truth and beauty and when you find it may you know…
May you help feed those who are hungry, and comfort those who hurt
May you always fright for justice for all of us who walk upon the earth.

Jangran Sat 03-Sep-11 12:43:01

That sounds like a Bob Dylan song, but I cannot quite bring it to mind.

Baggy Sat 03-Sep-11 12:50:21

None of my kids is baptised, and we named them when they were born. Ceremony enough for us. Their welcome as 'citizens' takes the rest of their childhood. A child isn't a citizen by my understanding of the word.

Twobabes Sat 03-Sep-11 13:23:44

None of mine baptised either. Did consider it as sort of "belt and braces" as suggested by Jangly but it felt wrong for me and DH thinks it's all mumbo jumbo and didn't care. Mine are good, caring people who we are proud of - and the g-chn are not baptised either! smile

jangly Sat 03-Sep-11 13:29:44

jangran - it sounds a lot like "Forever young". smile

Wonder which came first? wink

jangly Sat 03-Sep-11 13:31:34

Granny23 Sat 03-Sep-11 13:44:30

My DD1 who performs civil marriages and partnerships in her role as an Assistant Registrar, also does 'Naming Ceremonies' , which are just as described by Popparob in Australia. This is in Scotland - arranged through the registrars office. Is there not the same provision throughout the UK?

Baggy Sat 03-Sep-11 13:58:13

Another cheer for good old Scotland. smile

Twobabes Sat 03-Sep-11 14:19:54

Granny23 - if only they did them in Wales and England.
btw 23?? Is that how many g-chn you have? confused

Jacey Sat 03-Sep-11 15:11:55

Question ...if a baby is not baptised/christened ...doesn't that mean they would not be permitted a church wedding? confused

Granny23 Sat 03-Sep-11 15:21:11

Thank Goodness no, Two babes! It is just short for 'Granny to three', I used to be Granny 22.

jangly Sat 03-Sep-11 15:37:06

Yes Jacey, that is right.

But why would they want one?

Twobabes Sat 03-Sep-11 16:06:39

Well G23, that's a relief! I was imagining all those Christmas and birthday presents shock

PoppaRob Sat 03-Sep-11 16:22:17

Hi again

The only links I can find to audio clips are this one, but it's just the first bit sad
and this one which is part of a verse...

harrigran Sat 03-Sep-11 18:42:17

Never mind being baptised to get married in church, the vicar asked if I was confirmed ! I assured him I was, by the Arch Bishop of Canterbury no less. Needless to say I did not get married in that church, he was not welcoming.

pinkprincess Sat 03-Sep-11 19:09:31

My three oldest grandchildren have not been baptised, their mother(my ex DIL) saw no necessity as neither she nor DS are religious so at least they were honest.I repected their wishes although I was upset.When DS remarried and had another child I kept my mouth shut re. baptism.It was DIL's grandmother who persuaded her to have the baby baptised, and they had their next one baptised as well.