I am an atheist from a Catholic background with a 'mostly' lapsed Catholic husband and two small kids.
I will follow my Catholic roots first and make a confession... on the birth of my firstborn child I allowed myself to be swayed by my husband and mother into having my son baptised.
Those close to me are very much aware of my atheist standpoint and by and large we have been able to 'agree to disagree' without too much conflict but on this point my mother and my husband actually agree for the first time in their lives and stood united in their determination to have our darling babe safe in the arms of their beloved Father.
I was swayed by the temptation of throwing a party for what was obviously the most gorgeous and intelligent baby boy ever to grace the earth, and had some vaque ideas about possible future enrollments in the really good Catholic schools in the area (one of which I went to). I made a deal that my boy could be Christened as long as I didnt actually have to do anything with regards to the organising, and felt fairly safe that this would prove impossible for them to organise due to the fact that we were not married in a church, I had not been confirmed in the catholic church, and we never actually attended mass.
They were not to be put off however, and accomplished the feat by bribing a notoriously liberal priest in a small parish nearby with a 'donation' of $300!
The ceremony was performed quietly after the Saturday morning mass. I, slightly red-faced, mumbled the appropriate phrases under the watchful and approving eye of my Mother, went home and had a big party, and have regretted the whole thing ever since.
I now found myself under increasing pressure to baptise our second baby, and using various kinds of delaying tactics have managed to stall the final confrontation thus far... no east feat as she has just turned 2!
It is beginning to cause serious tension in my family and wondered on other's standpoints in this area. Am I being unreasonable in not pandering to my Mother's sincere belief that her granddaughter is going to burn in hell if she dies before being baptised?
Thanks for your reply!
My husband is pushing for a baptism, but not, I suspect, out of any real religious convictions, more that he feels pressure to do the 'right'thing in terms of our society, our family, and our community. He always feels a strong need to 'please' the people around him and I think this counteracts his personal skepticism.
I think that I may end up getting my way with this one. Two years old is already a bit old for a Christening in the Catholic church and going now might raise more eyebrows (why did it take them so long?) than a 'lets not and say we did'approach.
Of course for me this is morally worse that actually allowing the baptism, but then that was always my original beef with the church as a teenager, how things looked was always more important than whether or not they were actually right.
Well this was part on my thinking the first time round, it's a meaningless ceremony for me, and for the baby of course since he or she doesnt have a clue what is going on. Also on the plus side you get 'Godparents' of your choice, (suitably non-religious ones in my case) who are then duty-bound to remember your kids on their birthdays etc, take them for ice cream, and all those other Godly duties.
What is more disturbing for me is that as the Mother, I have to take certain vows as part of the ceremony, basically agreeing to raise my child in the catholic church, with catholic morals and standards, and to continue the catholic indoctination of my child through first communion and then confirmation.
In my head a vow is a vow, even if it is made to my husband's imaginary friend.
I was baptised and recieved first communion like all the rest of my family, by the age of confirmation I already had enough doubt to drop out of confirmation classes. My concern is not that allowing the baptism will increase the odd of my children being believers as even at this early stage I enourage scientific enquiry and critical thinking.
What concerns me is that by being a part of a religious ceremony, and making vows as to the religious upbringing of my children that I have no intention of keeping in order to flatter the illusions of my family, I am being as hypocritical as the church that I left, and this does not make a good starting point for my job to raise my children with morals but withour religion.
You got together with the family for a party. That is pretty far from stomach cramps or the dry heaves. I think you will manage to be happy after the terror of the moment is past.
The question is not whether or not I can but whether I should. Certainly I am physically capable of lying through my teeth to a priest if I have to, after all it wouldn't be the first time!
And yes, I suppose this is more about me than about the children, it is about me finding my standing ground within my family on important points. And I consider the level of religious upbringing of my children fairly important.
When I had doubts on religion and god as a child I thought I was all alone. It wasn't until I was around 14 or so and had a huge fight with my mother after telling her I didn't believe in god that my Dad came quietly to my room and told me he didn't believe in god and never had. Up until this point I had no idea and thought that he just didn't like going to church much because it was boring. My father is a mild mannered and kind person and had agreed to keep his disbelief to himself for my mothers sake.
My point is that for many years I felt rather let down by my Father's unwillingness to speak up. I had been struggling for some time to come to terms with a view of the universe that didnt seem to fit with that of the people around me. I was more than a little disappointed in what I saw as my Dad's weakness in not being open about a belief that is so fundamental to how we live our lives.
I want my children to be raised outside of religion, to learn, in as much as it is possible , about religions from the outside not he inside, and this, to me, is just the first small step in the wrong direction.