Recently, a friend of mine invited me to the baptism of her daughter, which I politely declined to attend. I should mention that when I was invited I did tell my friend that I do not 'celebrate' baptisms. And she (being a good friend) had no problem with that, and was not mad in the least that I would not be there because she understood, and respected me (as I was respecting her in my own way by NOT attending).
I do not believe in baptising babies as they have no consent in the 'brain washing' and should be free to choose it (or not) of their own accord. (This was not mentioned to my friend, although she knows me well enough to know it.)
Anyway, I mentioned this to my mother who proceeded to call me judgemental and disrespectful. What I am confused about is how would ATTENDING something for which I have no respect nor a belief in be MORE respectful?? Wouldn't it be more of an insult to my friend's particular beliefs (which I do not share) to have a non-believer be in attendance?
Can someone please tell me what the hell I should do about my mother. What can I tell her to make her chill out and understand my perspective.
Go for the party but not the baptism itself
Don't go because even going to the party afterwards could show support for something done to a child without their informed consent. It's a small step from uninformed non-consent (baptism) to uninformed non-consent in things like circumcision (either male or female).
I don't know exactly what you said to your mother either before or after her response. There may have been something in the situation or your words that triggered her reaction. If, after her reaction, you pointed out that you thought it would be more disrespectful to attend, that should have quieted her. If not, then perhaps pointing out that you do not wish to feel like or seem to be a hypocrite would work. Also, mentioning that religion has been bullying people into paying lip service and otherwise pretending to believe for centuries and that it is morally wrong to be a part of that.
Also, I think it is your personal choice to go through the ritual or not. The last time I did so was many years ago now when I was trying harder to be accommodating. I don't know if I would do so again. Since that time, the hostility of the religious toward non-believers has caused me a great deal of personal harm. I have lost much of my desire to be nice to them.
I don't know about how attending a baptism would actually be insulting to your friend. It would be respectful towards her. it just might be uncomfortable for you. But if you are into the anthropology of religion you might find it interesting. Attending religious activities as an atheist isnt an insult to the religious or to secular ideology. I went to my friends funeral a month ago out of love for her and her family, even though I actually believe that their religious views have many detrimental effects upon society. Trust me, it did not make me feel any better when I heard that she died because God needed another angel in heaven...
But you are not being disrespectful by refusing the invitation, you are only adhering to your own particular beliefs. I think all you can do is explain to your mother how important your beliefs are to you and to simultaneously try and understand her perspective as well. quid pro quo. if you want someone to listen to you, you have to listen to them. I hope this issue turns out okay between you and your mother!
I wanted to point out that I do attend weddings and funerals, but these have greater premises than religion. (See James' post following). Anyway, the reason I am apprehensive about going is due to the religious aspect, but also because the child has not given her consent, this is being done to her. Just the same I would not attend a Bris, communion, bar mitzfa, etc... I have a (different) friend who is in her twenties and had decided to get baptized when she was a teenager. I didn't know her then, am am secretly thankful I didn't have to have this conversation with her because she is a bit less open minded. But I do respect her for making the decision on her own and not being influenced by anyone.
I find it interesting that some are comparing not attending a baptism to not attending a wedding or funeral. However, I feel that is an uneven comparison. With a marriage and a funeral, there is still a meaning to these ceremonies if religion is removed. With marriage, you are supporting to union of two people who are in love and wishing them a long and happy future together, whether religion is involved or not. With a funeral you are still consoling the grieving and remembering the departed, whether religion is involved or not. But if you remove the religion from a baptism, all you have is an inefficient bath.
I feel that if you decline politely, that there's no reason for anyone to be upset with you. Like you said, your friend understood. Just as I'd understand if my mother-in-law didn't want to go to a talk about evolution. I'm sure there are many other ways you show that you care about their child and family. Even though I didn't attend my nephew's baptism, my sister-in-law understands why and had no issues with it or me. At the same time there is also no doubt that I care about my nephew and wish the best for him.
I see your point. For me it was the religious aspect of it, and also the fact the the child has not given her consent.
Legally, children can't give their consent for much of anything. I see your point and agree with you...up to a point. If this were an act that caused some permanent harm, like James' point about circumcision (or FGM) or, and I'll introduce this, a tattoo, then I can better sympathize with being a conscientious objector (if not reporting it to the law). But, as I have pointed out in an earlier comment, the Baptism itself does no harm and inflicts no permanent changes on the child. You'd do better to object to your friendship altogether since religious indoctrination is performed by parents, family, and friends over a lifetime. It is not performed during a few moments while getting an inefficient bath.
Supporting friends or family is definitely a good thing. But it shouldn't be something that should be expected with no consideration. There are cases where a loved one should not expect to get unquestioned support. Suppose they do something very wrong. Should we overlook the deed and automatically support their release as if nothing ever happened? Obviously that example isn't great since their deed may not have been amazingly important. I personally didn't skip the baptism due to it being silly, but because I find it fundamentally wrong to start a child out on a path that many have much trouble escaping from. What if you had a friend who felt that performing female circumcision on his daughter was a very important moment that he wished to share with you? Would it be rude to decline even though it's important to them and they asked you to attend? I don't feel it would be rude or selfish at all. Sometimes w have to make a stand for what we think is right. For me, that's my stance on baptism. The act is physically harmless, it leads to being so much more than just that. If one supports the friend/family/child in most other circumstances, I feel as though your true intentions and feeling will be understood. But if you're an ass all the time, you probably deserve what you have coming.
But if someone wants to attend, it's fine with me if they want to. It's simply not what I would choose to do. Ultimately, it probably depends on one's view of baptism, how far you feel the path can lead and how positive/negative you feel that it is. If you feel it's benign, I agree that there is no good reason not to go. But if you feel that it can lead to something genuinely harmful, than I feel that declining can be justified. We may not see eye-to-eye on this issue, but that's fair enough. Every situation and person is unique, So I can't automatically expect my views to work as a template for you, or yours to necessarily fit me. The good thing about these discussions is that we may learn something from one another.
Inefficient baths are on par with genital mutilation? Come on now, you can't have it both ways. Besides, in most cases, circumcisions are not social events. Baptisms are. And they are in many ways on par with weddings, birthdays, and other events in our lives.
The problem with objecting to Baptisms in such a manner is that you aren't preventing what you say you are against. That dip in the water is not what leads that child down a path of religious indoctrination. The parents raising the child inflict that over an entire childhood. So, the choice should clearly be to not associate with this family at all if you feel that strongly about it. Why abstain so meaninglessly from an event that is merely symbolic and does no actual harm to the child? If you are going to be a friend, be a friend. Why half ass it? It's not like they are asking you to go to church every week. If that were the case, then fuck 'em.
If anything, a good reason to not go is to avoid seeing how scary and mob-like a pious church crowd can be. We caught the last half of Mass when we went to my niece's Baptism recently and it is very unnerving when they are all chanting, singing, and performing their rituals and ceremonies. I felt very vulnerable during all of that.