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ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Atheists, do you go to baptisms?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (26784points) November 18th, 2011

I have to go to my niece’s baptism on Sunday, and I’m kind of dreading it. I go to church for things like weddings or funerals, but those types of events have a larger significance than just a religious ritual. Going to church for a baptism sounds kind of like having a tooth pulled, I would prefer to avoid it at all costs. The whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I’m going. I just wonder how other people feel about going to church for religious ceremonies.

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27 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Eh, it depends on whose it is. But yes I’d go.

gailcalled's avatar

Yes. Be happy for the parents and the cute little baby. It’s their ideology and not yours. Admire the stained glass windows, the organ music and the poetic sources of the prayers. Wear your best hat, shut your eyes and think of England.

FutureMemory's avatar

I would go. If the parents are believers, it’s a pretty significant event for them.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Sure, if it’s someone whom I want to see in their ceremonies. It’s not any more painful for me than going to graduations.

Are you at least going to a beautiful church, or is it one of those that has the huge screen so everyone can see the pastor and no (good) artwork?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@gailcalled I said I’m going. I just don’t care for it… and I don’t think we wear hats in church here. At least, not that I’ve ever seen. :)
@Aethelflaed no, the church is big, but new. It’s not especially pretty.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf That’s sad. I actually enjoy going to some of the cathedrals in my town, and then I can occupy myself by looking at all the stuff. And sitting in the back, and slipping earbuds headphones in, hair covering my ears, and then listen to an audio book.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Aethelflaed we have a lot of beautiful churches here, the one my family attends is particularly ornate, and I like to just enjoy the scenery.
I don’t have issues with being inside of a church. I do, however, feel odd about celebrating a ceremony that is strictly for religious purposes. I don’t ever remember feeling so opposed to it before, but I recently overheard my in-laws plotting to “steal” away my stepkids one day to get them baptised without telling their mother. I think that got under my skin, and now I’m just cranky about the whole thing.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf Yeah, you tell them you’ll ‘bash’ their head in. Oh I’m sorry, was that violent and outloud?

wonderingwhy's avatar

I’ve never gone; I don’t see the point.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir no, but I think my face gave me away. I think that’s what my deal is with this baptism. I don’t even know of my sister-in-law to be especially religious, though not opposed, but I’m sure she is feeling the pressure. In fact, I’m almost positive that this baptism is what brought up the subject of my skids not being baptized.

@wonderingwhy that’s how I feel. A wedding or a funeral has a purpose outside of the church, it’s a significant thing in life. The fact that some guy trickled water down your baby’s head or dunked them in a pool really isn’t something that I feel I should have to buy a card for and get dressed up about. Does it make you happy? Great. Do you feel you’ve done something positive for your child? Awesome. It’s just not how I want to spend my Sunday afternoon.

Blackberry's avatar

I would go and just stare off into space or think about something else. It also depends on who is asking me. But is is fun to look at those people perform a ritual that has no significance at all.

poisonedantidote's avatar

No, I can’t go to church. I will end up saying something. I can only be exposed to a certain amount of bullshit before I snap and speak up, and watching the magical pedophile wet a babies head and claim it has something to do with the meaning of life is too much for me to handle.

YARNLADY's avatar

I would if I was invited, but most of my close friends share my views about religion.

GladysMensch's avatar

It’s your niece, and it’s apparently important to her parents. A few words will be spoken, and some water will be poured on her head. That’s it, as far as an atheist is concerned. They’re not harming her in any way, and she will have no memory of the ceremony.

So go, be polite, and make it known through your presence that you want to be a part of her life regardless of her religion.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I’m going. I already said that. My question was do you go?

GladysMensch's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I knew that you were going, I tried to give you a reason to go and still see it as a positive experience.

So to answer your initial question… yes, I went to both of my daughter’s baptisms. My wife and her pastor know that I’m an athiest, and as a former catholic I find the idea of original sin to be abhorrent. They told me that their church viewed baptism as more of an introduction to a life of religious fulfillment. It was important to my wife, so I agreed to go along, but not participate in the ceremony. I figure, there is nothing wrong with learning about religion, and everyone will come to their own conclusions.

lynfromnm's avatar

I haven’t been to a baptism since becoming an adult. I have sent a gift for someone’s first communion and someone else’s baptism. If the person being baptised is an adult I don’t have a problem with attending, but I have serious issues with attending a baptism for a child.

Rarebear's avatar

Absolutely. I’m an atheist Jew and I’ve been to baptisms.

martianspringtime's avatar

I’ve never had experience with this, but I would probably go if it were someone important to me – say, important enough that I would feel very badly about missing their birthday.

It would probably make me uncomfortable, but I’d keep in mind that I’m there for them, and that I’m not obligated to do anything more than be respectful and support whoever it’s about.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I go because it’s about the family, not about me. I also go to confirmations when I’m invited by friends, I also go to weddings that include a high mass. It’s not about me, it’s about them. I went as an atheist, I go as a theist. it doesn’t affect how I feel, I’m just glad to celebrate an event with people I care about, whatever their beliefs.

tinyfaery's avatar

If you don’t want to go, don’t. I would never want people at any event I had to dread being there. You don’t have to say why.

I’d go, but I wouldn’t pray or participate in the ceremony in any way. I’d just go to fill the seat and make the person happy.

Berserker's avatar

I’d go. If I was invited and all, why not. Someone who invites me to a baptism probably knows I’m an Atheist, so it’s not like it’s a strictly Christian related thing, even if it’s a Christian custom. Hell, I was baptized. XD I don’t remember it, but apparently.
But yeah, I don’t see the big deal, personally. But as @tinyfaery says, don’t feel forced. Don’t go if you don’t wanna.

Aethelwine's avatar

I would go for someone I cared about. If it’s important to them, it’s important to me.

AdamF's avatar

I was given the opportunity to go to my sister in laws daughter’s baptism, and I declined for three reasons.

1) the idea of original sin is warped. Here’s Luther on the topic “Moreover, this inborn sickness and hereditary sin is truly sin and condemns to the eternal wrath of God all those who are not born again through Baptism and the Holy Spirit.”

2) the practice of baptism embraces the idea that a child will follow in the religion of the parents rather than religion being a choice to be made by a young adult.

3) I think it’s hypocritical for me to participate in ceremonies which I have a fundamental disagreement with their underlying premise.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I am not an atheist (although, I am not overly religious either and rarely go to church) but, even if I were, I like to think I would still go. After all, it’s not about my beliefs, it is about theirs and if I liked them and their child enough then I would go out of respect for them. You don’t have to care for it and, whether you are religious or not, these things can be a bit on the boring side (weddings bore me to tears!) but they don’t tend to last for long either.

Brian1946's avatar

I wouldn’t do something that was “like having a tooth pulled” out of “respect” for those who were imposing a religious ritual on their child, and I wouldn’t do it even if their child was voluntarily undergoing the ceremony.

Also, if I were her parents, I wouldn’t see your not attending as a sign of disrespect. If anything’s disrespectful, it’s making someone feel that they have to attend something that leaves a bad taste in their mouth, when their absence will have no impact on the efficacy of said ritual. But perhaps that’s just me.

If you get stuck going, then perhaps when you’re there you can use the time to prepare your stand against being obligated to attend more than one Thanksgiving meal on the 24th. ;-)

downtide's avatar

I’m like @lynfromnm – never been to a baptism since I was a child. I have only one neice and as she and her family live a long way from here, I wasn’t able to go. If it was local I would have gone (and been bored to death, and hated every minute of it).

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