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?
I would suck it up and support my friend.
Then scrub myself clean when I get home.
The main thing of course, which you seem to realize is that it's not about you, it's about your friend.
I would therefor concur with The Nerd that you should talk to her about it so that you know what her expectations are and whether or not your presence there would be beneficial to both parties.
"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 totally understand where you're coming from with that. You're not the only one who tends to have issues with the more vile tenets of space daddy cults.
Call in sick. If you have a friend who's a doctor or nurse, have them write you a note.
OK, I'll admit it was a bad attempt at humor. Seriously, I think the Nerd is absolutely correct. If she doesn't know you're an atheist, suck it up, get through it, then go drink half a bottle of scotch. If she does know you're an atheist, and she is inviting you there so you will finally "open your eyes" to the glory of Jesus and convert, I'd be honest with her, tell her that's not going to happen, and then decide what would be best for 1) you, 2) her, and 3) your mutual friendship.
Thanks everyone for your advice.
I think I'll do what was suggested and ask her why it is she wants me to go. It may be that she just wants to share this part of her life with me. Yes, she knows I'm an atheist and she does make occasional attempts to convert me, but I've made my position clear and hopefully she'll understand that my being there doesn't mean I condone what she's doing, just that I support her. She's said before that if a friend had a gay wedding she wouldn't attend due to her religion, so I kind of see that as my chance at being the bigger person.
If nothing else it'll educate me about what a born again baptism is like.
I see it as sort of an initiation ritual. Like if you were in a gang you might stab a few people and do a rain dance.
But obviously because it's Christianity it must be much more sensible...or something.
"If nothing else it'll educate me about what a born again baptism is like. "
That sounds...like a bit of an anticlimax.
My other friends seem to be getting her baptism presents and I looked for a card today. All the cards I could find had a cross on the front and I do object to presenting my friend with a picture of an implement of torture. Seems a bit creepy, so I think maybe I'm going to forego that part of the experience.
I'm not really sure what to expect. My confirmation was very sedate, just with the bishop giving me communion and blessing me, but my friend comes from quite an over-the-top, Jesus-praising, fundamentalist church so I imagine it'll be quite different.
Yes, my church was the same. It wasn't a big thing when I got confirmed, but this church seems to be different.
I don't think 'congratulations' is quite the right word for what I feel and want to express about her baptism. I think I'll make my own card with a pleasant but non-committal message.