I was recently asked by a friend if I would attend her baptism when she is 'born again' and I'm not sure whether or not I should go.

 

On the one hand I don't want to be the evil atheist who won't support her friend. I'm worried it might be rude to decline the invitation. On the other hand, I am completely against everything her church stands for, not only the claims it makes about God and the nature of reality, but also its stances in social issues such as its damaging anti-gay beliefs. 

 

I would have no reservations about attending a church wedding or funeral, but somehow this feels different. This is an explicitly religious ceremony which, whilst I support my friend's right to go through with it, I cannot support in itself. A wedding in a church could be, to me, a celebration of two people's relationships and a funeral could be a celebration of the person's life and an expression of how they will be missed. This baptism ceremony would be a celebration of the brainwashing my friend experienced from childhood and her acceptance of a flawed belief system that leads to prejudice and intolerance. I feel my presence would signify that I condone this and give my friends yet another chance to convert me. 

 

However, as an atheist I know that a baptism doesn't really do anything at all. It's just someone being dunked in a pool. She's already a believer in ridiculous things, intolerant of the lgbtq community and an opponent of science. I also want to show my friends that I can be a good person, a friend, and be a part of their lives even if I don't share their beliefs. 

 

Does anyone have any advice? Have you ever been faced with this problem? 

Tags: Christianity, baptism

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You may want to stand near the back so you can make a quick exit, in case she's using this as an opportunity to gang up on you and tag team you with her church group.  I don't know your relationship with your friend.  I hope she wouldn't do something so mean, but she and her church group might not consider it mean and actually consider it saving you as if you were drowning.  I've been placed in a religion trap a time or two myself, so maybe I am just suspicious.  Go if you like, but I'd leave early, before they gang up on you for a mass "witnessing".  Then again, I have a head cold and don't feel like putting up with crap.  I could be interrupting the situation totally wrong. 
Bring soap and make baptism actually useful!

It's not something I would want to attend. I'd feel hypocritical and totally creeped out by it. Plus, I don't think I could contain my laughter or keep my mouth shut. It wouldn't necessarily be stain on your integrity if you did decide to attend and even if you did, you don't have to take part. I'd speak to your friend and find out why you have been invited as an atheist and what is expected of you, if anything. Likewise, not attending wouldn't mean you don't value the friendship - don't guilt yourself into going if you really don't want to. On the other hand it might be a good learning opportunity, if only out of curiosity. 

I agree with sunshine here. Can you show "support" in another way? 

I would not want to go to the church and have to try to think of things to say to all the xtians there.  I personally would find it awkward for me.

I agree I would ask her why she wants you there and does she understand you believe this is a farce?  If she is trying to change your mind and make you a believer, I would politely decline.

An update: 

 

I accepted my friend's invitation to her baptism, but am now having second thoughts. I went, out of curiosity, to one of her church services the other day, and it was quite scary. There were people lying prostrate on the floor, waving their hands in the air and crying. Apparently, they were being filled with the holy spirit. The new people to the church were told they were evil sinners and 'dead inside' and were pressured into standing up and pledging their lives to Jesus. It was frightening and not something I ever want to be involved in again. 

 

So I've decided that I don't want to go to her baptism. But thank you everyone for helping me to see things more clearly and come to a decision. Much appreciated :) 

No, I haven't seen that movie, I'll check it out some time. I just went because I was curious and I thought it would be a good think to investigate for the blog I write for. I took another atheist friend with me for support and we exchanged many frightened looks during the service!

 

She's an Evangelical, which I don't have much experience with. I come from a Church of England and Catholic background and their services are pretty sedate.

 

I haven't told her yet - I decided to sleep on it and see how I felt about it in the morning. Now I'm just trying to decide whether to make up an excuse or explain why I don't want to go.

Just  tell her politely as you can upon consideration, you have changed your mind.  I grew up in the Methodist tradition which is pretty sedate and almost always has services that last 45 minutes or on a long winded day an hour.  I felt uncomfortable around baptists shouting amen and "witnessing".  I've been to a lot of churches, but never one that wild.  Did they even have coffee and sweets after? 

 

I do wonder how long you can remain friends with someone who has joined a church so out there that even other christians would have trouble remaining friends as these types often put a lot of pressure on their friends to attend their church.  In my experience, they also tend to believe even other christians are totally wrong.  Good luck with your situation.  I hope everything works out.

Same here, the Church of England was never really about being filled with the holy spirit or praising the Lord, it was more about singing a few hymns and having a cup of tea and a biscuit at the end. Totally different world! This service had doughnuts, which was the one thing that could have made me happy, but they weren't free and I had no money (plus I wouldn't put it past them to drug the doughnuts and then baptise me whist unconscious!)

 

I sometimes wonder how I can stay friends with her and a lot of other people from the same church. They just seem so normal when they're away from the church! I try to be a little corner of uncraziness to show them that, if they ever change their mind, there's a good and happy life to be led without Christianity. 

 

Urgh...I'm still putting off telling her. It seems so rude to accept an invitation then decline it! What I really want to do is take her aside, explain that she's in what is essentially a cult and tell her that she doesn't need something like that to make her a worthwhile person. The horrible things they tell her about feeling terrible shame about everything she does and never being worthy just aren't true. But I know that wouldn't go down well and so I'm having to do the best I can to be a good friend in other ways. It's a hard life, isn't it...

Wow, they charged for the donuts.  I've never heard of that.  When I was little, I used to think to myself, "the eleventh commandment:  Whenever two or more of you are gathered, there shalt be a collection for the lord thy god."   However, in spite of much collection plate passing, the coffee and sweets were always free. 

 

It sounds like they are a cult and also cheap skates. 

OMGoodness!  That does sound horrible.  I'll bet it lasted way more than 45 minutes or an hour, too.  I don't see how anyone (even from a normal church) could put up with that.  It sounds like a total nuthouse.  If she had been something ordinary like a Luthern or a Catholic, it might have been doable, but I have a feeling even a lot of religious people would run from that place.

It was waaaaaaayyyyy long! We got there at five and didn't leave until half eight. 

 

Yeah, it was completely different from any of my past experiences with religious services, though if it had been Catholic I wouldn't have even considered going as I reserve my upmost disdain and disgust of the Catholic Church for obvious reasons. 

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