Church refuses to baptize our child, mother becomes Atheist

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Discussion by: spire123

I am a
South African citizen and an Atheist. I was baptized and accepted in a
Christian Church as a child and young adult but “awoke” from the
religious slumber in my late teens after my father and mother divorced and the
church blamed me, my brother and sister because we couldn’t attend Sunday school.

My
“conversion” was a gradual process and didn’t happen overnight. I
later married to the love of my life, a sweet woman and we have a child. My
wife was also baptized and accepted into the church as a child and was a Christian.
Because I love my wife, I agreed to her need of introducing my child into the Christian
church on the condition that I will also have a say in his upbringing. We both
agreed and that was the end of it.

After about 1 year we went to our pastor and asked him to baptize our child, but
were rejected. As we were both accepted into the church, the rejection came as
quite a shock. We obviously had questions. The pastor gave us the following
explanation:

Pastor
told us that he could not accept us into the church as me being an atheist and
my wife being a Christian would confuse our child. This was despite me offering
to join the congregation as a gesture of kindness to my wife and child. Pastor
told us that my wife sinned because she did not attend church in 6 years (her
mother and father had passed away during that time and she had to provide for
her family)

My wife is
no longer a Christian after crying her eyes out and cursing at God, asking him
why his servants had rejected our child from coming to Christ and his Church.

Despite
our union in Atheism, some things still bother me:

·        
Our community is very intolerant
of Atheists;

·        
kids sometimes bully “different”
kids;

·        
religion is engrained in
the business culture and

·        
schools have compulsory
religious classes

 

What do we
do?

 

Pieter

24 COMMENTS

  1. Spire,
    I really do not know what to tell you.  You are in an untenable situation and I feel badly for your child as well as you and your wife.  Maybe it is time to move.  Once these Christian leaders get their jaws set about something, there is no changing their minds.  This could be a huge impediment to your family’s happiness.

    It always boggles my mind that a person with faith (supposed to ba a huge blessing and bring happiness) looks down on someone without faith.  Shouldn’t they pity those who have lost their faith or not had it to begin with??  Shouldn’t they welcome you and show you the hospitality and compassion that the founder (Jesus) would show you??  Where does that all go?  It is replaced with hate and vitriol and this should be the red flag to everyone involved (on both sides) that something has gone heinously wrong with belief and faith in the world.

  2. Yeah  … it sucks when the religious control the community. Why not invite friends and family (religious and non) to a non-religious ceremony to welcome your child into the community? Doesn’t matter how many there are. You’ll have a good time without that pastor and you will probably discover who your real friends are. If you are really so isolated that you can’t think who would come, then that’s really tough. I can’t imagine living in that kind of community. I’d start planning a way out. Easier said than done I know.  You could invite the online community here to a ceremony… we could attend via the internet. :-) (No idea how that would be done but it would be a first.)

  3. I don’t know if this will be helpful or not, but can’t help but remark on how this is a classic example of the curious and blinkered perception many people have of “the church”. You say your community is very religious, but does that mean it only tolerates one denomination? Why does your wife have to belong either to the church of this uncooperative pastor or to no church at all? What rules are there that prevent your wife from having her own “church” (no special building or congregation necessary) and doing the baptism herself? I’m serious. It’s amazing how indoctrinated people are into thinking they must belong to one of a select number of established churches. Who makes up the rules? Your wife is just as qualified in setting up a church and determining its beliefs as any other human being on the planet. Does she have to belong to any church at all to be perceived as a Christian in your community? She hasn’t been to one in years anyway, from what you say. Were you and your wife shunned by society before you tried to get you child baptised? Has anything really changed?

    As an atheist and anti-religionist I’m not naturally inclined to persuade your wife to going back to being a Christian, and I don’t know the exact nature of your community, but hopefully having a broader and more relaxed perception of your situation will help you and your family find a happy solution.

  4. If you decide to cave in to peer pressure and make concessions, for the sake of the child and your wife, then keep in mind that the hypocrite isn’t you, but them (remember Galileo’s alleged famous words?). 

    On the other hand, standing up to the bullies is role model material. Then again, being excluded from the community, how much would it undermine the child’s future, or safety.

  5. You have no choice, as atheists both; you should not compromise with your hypocritical pastor or his flock. You owe it to your child to avoid indoctrination & allow him/her to decide what path to follow. 
    Vote with your feet- move to a less judgmental community… or country. 

  6. Spire,
    I’d tell your wife not to take it badly. The people that wouldn’t baptise your son  believe in something that is made up. Dont feel guilty , men are not gods or god. How could your wife think that these people are anointed.

    What to do about it? dont beat yourself up anyway. Yours is a problem of society. You could just pretend your christians if it meant perserving yourself and your family. Or you could look to move. Whatever it takes.

  7. One can apply the sacrament of baptism oneself!(when a priest is unavailable so the child doesn’t finish up in Limbo)
    My mother accepted that I was an atheist and told me she had baptised my son as a baby in the bath!
    As an atheist Pieter just accept that all religion is bollocks.(het u verstaan?)

  8. Pieter, I’d say you got a result there. It may not seem like that at the moment, or even in the short term, but for someone who was prepared to compromise his principles to keep the peace, but will not have to, definitely a result.

    How many more are there out there in your community? Individuals like you that are prepared to just go with the flow to keep the ‘status quo’ might be a bigger question. Perhaps you are not alone. I don’t know how you might brooch the situation, but maybe a support group or the like might be an idea. Who knows, there might be a lot more like minded Pieter’s out there in your community toiling away quietly so as to not upset the apple cart.

  9. (when a priest is unavailable so the child doesn’t finish up in Limbo)

    There is no Limbo any more…

    “The official answer of the Roman Catholic Church to this all-important question was revised today when the International Theological Commission released a ground-breaking report, and Pope Benedict XVI approved it’s findings.
    After extensive theological research, the commission has reported that there is a possibility that these unbaptized babies can go to heaven. They agree with past findings that there is no definite answer to this question in religious documents. However, they have found that there is enough evidence to revise the official Roman Catholic Church opinion.”

    While I agree that the RCC are just making all this shite up as they are going along, nevertheless, this is one area where I approve of the Popes influence and position… especially as it elevates the suffering of those deluded mothers that believe all the church crap in the first place.

  10. Ja Pieter. Nou het die kak net begin!! Been through the same process myself over the last number of years. My wife attended baptism classes for my son while I was away at sea, then on my attending the last one, we were told that he would only baptise if we committed to coming to church regularly! Door looked good so we left. Fortunately my social environment is not that religious and we have survived as atheists in a very religious country. Stay true to your non religious  principles and when the talk around the braai gets to religion (as it always seems to) smile and  lie- tell them you are a lapsed whatever and then they feel sorry for you and leave you alone. If they push harder, then grab a Brandewyn met eish and blame the dop!! Good luck. There are a lot more atheists out there than we realise and if you do decide to make a stand, support often comes from the strangest places. Often in private and away from the crowd and then you will be in a position to support others going through the same painful divorce. Hou die blink kant bo!!  

  11. Hi Pieter,

    If you wife is now a fully paid up atheist, then you have a good basis for mutual support. However, I’m slightly worried about this and I would suggest you make polite enquiries of your wife to make sure her atheism is on strong foundations. She shouldn’t be an atheist because someone or several people were horrible to her or to you both. And certainly not because his servants “rejected” your child. She should be an atheist because she understands that there is no evidence of any god or gods. Otherwise you may find her returning to religion the next time one of his servants is nice to her.

    What is your son’s name – maybe we can all wet the baby’s head next time we have a bottle of South African sauvignan blanc.

  12. However, they have found that there is enough evidence to revise the official Roman Catholic Church opinion

    Evidence?    They found Evidence?   Wow.  I’m so impressed now, I can hardly contain my laughter.

  13. You can do what a lot of other South Africans have done and move to Australia. I live in Perth, Western Australia and my suburb should be renamed  Little Jo’burg on account of how many expat South African’s live here – it’ll be like you never left.

  14. The Unitarian-Universalist Church accepts any belief held by its members–including no belief in a deity.  It provides a supportive community that is tolerant of differences. Best of all, it gives the kids an answer to “What religion are you?” questions on the playground.  Many of its members are couples such as you and your wife, with somewhat different ideas about religion.   I was raised without religion and it was sometimes uncomfortable.  My own children had the benefit of the UU environment, and we agreed with their principle of raising children with good information and freedom of choice.  In the end they went very different ways, and I went back to the church of sleeping in on Sunday morning. 

  15. Yep…it’s always handy to be able to find “evidence” when the need arises…what that “evidence” actually is, is another yarn entirely, they never ever say….reinterpretation of a madman’s ramblings…or  perhaps it was in the form of divine revelation. I’ll not knock it if it gives solace,  even if it is to the gullible and deluded minions.

  16. Raised CoE in South Africa, dropped the Xtianity for various mystical thingies before becoming atheist. Never felt a jot of pressure. There is a cultural bias towards religion with loads of godbotting in the letters section of the local papers, but it can be ignored. Are you Afrikaans? That might explain our different experience.

    I’m going to be critical here. Why are you prepared to let the church indoctrinate your child with what you believe to be falsehoods? The only fair compromise is to let your child make up his/her own mind when old enough. Indoctrinating your child to satisfy your wife is not fair to the child. I know it’s difficult if the child is going to be ostracised, but it may be worth it in the long run.      

  17. I am truly sorry sorry for all pain that you and your family has felt. I obviously do not know the whole situation, but maybe i can help with some commentary. When parents baptize their childrenthey are verbally and physically swearing to raise their child in the Church. If you are an atheist, it would be a difficult promise for you to make, in addition to that your wife had not attended the Church for six years until she had yourchild. I don’t know the whole circumstance with that but it does lean towards being unable to swear that she will raise the child in the Church. I pray that the priest attempted to lovingly explain this, if not,i am sorry. If you would like to speak in more detail, please email me. Lighthorse80@gmail.com

  18. Maybe you could find another church if its so important? I find it pathetic when minister pull this nonsense. They there god on earth. I also am sorry that your wife became an atheist for the wrong reasons. Maybe you can start helping her become one for the right ones. Maybe give her some evoultion books, or science books. I am only talking from my own perspective since I live in america. We also have problems such as this. Where you can get fired for being an atheist. I havent come out of the closet to be honest. You guys amoung others are the only ones to know.

  19. A similar thing happened to me although it was over 30 years ago. My wife and her mother really wanted to have our daughter baptized into the local CofE. Although I suppose at the time I was slowly becoming an atheist, having been indoctrinated in the usual Christian way through school etc. The local Vicar made an appointment to visit us at home to talk us through the ritual of the baptismal service. That seemed OK, but I was shocked when he produced a rather lengthy “Contract” and I was expected to sign this legally enforceable document there and then before said Vicar would agree to Baptize my daughter. The contents of this contract included the usual payments etc. but also included a clause stating that I would ensure that my daughter would not only be baptized, but attend Church Services for the rest of her life and be confirmed into the Church before her 18th birthday. I simply told the Vicar that I would like my daughter to make up her own mind about which Church if any she would want to be involved in, and I refused to sign the contract! I was then told that it was my duty to ensure that she joined his Church and if I was not prepared to accept this then he would not baptize her and we would not be welcome in the Church any more. I have never been back to that church, and have enjoyed a free and happy life as an atheist. My daughter never was baptized into any religion, she grew up and became a scientist… 

  20. Spire,

    I also live in SA and an active atheist.My wife is still a christian at this stage. Altough we don’t have any kids yet, the topic of raising children religiously did come up a couple of times, and our dicision was that if we had children we would leave the choice of being baptized up to the child when he/she was old enough to make  the decision on there own after hearing out “both sides of the fence”. I feel that religion or not, is each persons own choice and children should be forced into it!  

  21. Do you intend to tell your child lies in order to make him a Christian and get along with the other kids? I think you have to make a stand at some point and stop trying to placate the religious nuts who surround you. Hey! If the Christians could put up with getting fed to lions, can’t we take a little abuse too:-)

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