Hi all, I would appreciate any practical help on this one please! I’m a bit stuck. My wife is due with our first child. I am super excited at the prospect and look forward to sharing my love of the natural world and all its wonders with him/her! I am a strong, and getting stronger all the time, rationalist that is as far up the Atheist scale as you can be. My wife, without knowing the deepest workings of anyone’s inner mind is, I believe, not a true believer but is in that awkward place of not really believing but not knowing how to show this without offending may people she loves. I am less worried about this as I spend time reading helps me articulate my point in a rational way that hopefully is logical and not personally offensive to my family and friends.

I have no intention of hurting my wife, who I love dearly, but at the same time I want to start my child off on a “fair” footing if not necessarily the “right” one.

My ideology is this: a parent’s job is to teach their child how to think and not to tell them what to think”.

My mother passed away 2 years ago after the drawn out illness of a stroke. She lost her mobility, speech, continence, was fed directly into the stomach – and it broke my heart. All her life she, very often unknown to us, cared for and tended to sick people in the community (she was a retired nurse), sneaking out in the middle of the night many times to do so. Needless to say I can’t countenance the good she did as a person with the shit ending she had. Good life + Shit ending =/= God. My Dad goes to mass weekly and believes in God (I think). My mother was the 2nd wife he lost, his first wife died during child birth where the child also died. I can fully understand his need to believe that he will see them all again, his heart is broken and he is so lonely – who would want to take that from him at 80 years of age.

Another aspect is that the vast majority (maybe 80-90%) of schools in Ireland are church run or the church has some influence in them; many of these schools have great schooling reputations. I went to two myself and have nothing bad to say academically about them. As I understand it to be enrolled in one of these schools the child has to have been baptised.

So my question is this: How the hell can I avoid conflict with my family and my wife’s family while at the same time protecting our child from being labelled as a member of a horrible and pointless institution that demonises gays, protects child rapists, preaches charity while being one of the wealthiest organisations in the world, treats women as 2nd class citizens and promotes contraception as a cause of increase in AIDS (to name but a few).

Your thoughts are much appreciated 

Tags: Baptism, atheist

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Tell them simply that if and when your child knows enough to consider baptism, then he can decide for him/herself. That is where I stood firm with my children. The argument can be that if religion becomes a strong influence for the child, then he/she can decide and give baptism real meaning when/if it happens.

For Verne: . . . snip . . . You had your son circumcised and baptized just to go along with the religious crowd? snip . . .
You just have to avoid religious activities and find a more rational school that does not require a child to be baptized. If you cannot, you can always move to another country. Being in a country where 80-90% of schools are religious isn't fun. It's like living in the Dark Ages.
This is hard... for me when I have a child I will not get them baptized, I just wont and I don't care who will scream and holler at me. Its just water... If you can get passed the symbolism... ugh... If there are no other schools in the area that will take an unbaptized child go ahead and do it, just wipe it off later. :)
Hi all,
firstly I am humbled by all the responses and the effort that many of you have put into your responses.
I realise, like some have suggested, that the most important thing is the proper education of our child.

That has to be my priority, and I have no right to jeopardise that. I have two possible approaches:
1. Propose that we wait until our child is old enough to decide for themselves if they wish to be baptised. In the mean time I will ensure that our child is exposed to critical thinking and logic and has the right tools to make an educated decision. This might placate more hard-line people (or not – who knows)

2. Bite my tongue and let him/her be baptised. Then as before ensue in their upbringing that they have a proper critical education. Resist at every twist and turn any nonsense put in their way. At least in the ongoing day to day it will be just me, my wife and our child, not all and sundry.

It’s a tough situation but you have to make the most of what you got. Once all the fingers and toes are there everything else is secondary!

Thanks once more for your help and support. God bless!!

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