Wednesday, January 19, 2005

lowest common denomination

I had some conversations with a local preacher some months ago in which he mentioned that a child is considered to be innocent until it reaches the age where it understands right from wrong in a meaningful sense. The preacher reckoned this usually occurred when a child was about three.
So why do people feel the need to baptise an infant? As I understand it, baptism is a ritual that is supposed to provide "forgiveness for sinning". Well, correct me if I'm wrong but an 11-month-old infant has not sinned.
It is important to me that my child is not baptised. I'd like him to have the chance to remain free of religious labelling until he is old enough to decide for himself whether or not he wants to subscribe to a particular religion. I don't believe it's one parent's right to impose their world-view on a child. I don't intend to tell Harley he is an atheist just because I am one.
Isn't it the child's right to choose what he believes in? Isn't Christianity based around the premise that God gave man free will so that he could choose to believe in God? So why not let a kid decide to believe (or not) when they are old enough to understand the concepts involved? Why tell them they are "a Christian" as if it's something like being "an Australian"?
I know some people will think I am being petty about this, but it's really important to me that Harley has the right to be involved in figuring out his world views and belief systems for himself. I want to expose him to many ideas and philosophies as he grows, and let him enjoy the process of figuring it all out. Hey, it may take a lifetime! I still haven't figured it out entirely myself. I just stick with a basic lowest-common-denominator rule: all religions and humanistic philosophies reckon we should be nice to each other and the planet we depend on. Easy. No need for self-flagellation over various "sins" like masturbation or homosexuality or illegitimacy, and the rest. No need to waste all your life in prayer or at houses of worship.
I'm curious. What if I were Jewish? Would the child's father still have the right to force me to permit a baptism? So why should the situation be any different when one parent is an atheist?
A judge gets to decide it tomorrow, anyway. But frankly, I'll be shocked if a court of law can order a religious ceremony take place and a child be forced to adopt a religion just to please one parent.
We'll see...............

update: The judge said the issues involved require more time to be fully considered and listed it for hearing again on 20 March. And so it drags on...