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In Gibraltar an atheist dad prevents son’s baptism

In Gibraltar an atheist dad prevents son’s baptism

In ruling against a Roman Catholic mother mother who wanted her son baptised, a Gibraltar judge described the father’s views on religion as ‘clear’.

Supreme Court Judge Christopher Butler, according to this report, said of the father:

He is vehemently anti-religious and believes that religion has been responsible for a great deal of harm.

The background to the case involves a child, referred to simply as C, who was born to unmarried parents in 2012 in Gibraltar. However, the relationship broke down and the child’s parents separated in 2015.

The matter first came to the court’s notice in April this year because the mother had, “without notice to the father or consultation with him,” arranged for C to be baptised.

She had sought seek legal advice because she was “worried about whether her actions were proper and legal.”

The father’s anti-religious views led him to oppose her plan and to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order, which the judge granted on an interim basis.

The father’s central position was that his child:

Should not have his choice made for him before he is of an age at which he can decide for himself which, if any, religion he wishes to adopt and follow.

Although the father recognised that C would be influenced by his maternal family’s beliefs and traditions, he insisted that:

Baptism and thereby formal entry into a particular faith should not be undertaken without C’s informed consent and wish at an age at which he can properly understand what is happening.

Significantly, although the father objected to the baptism, he made no request to restrict any other type of religious influence on C’s life.

The mother’s argument was that C should be baptised:

Because that accords with the strongly held beliefs of her family, including herself.

Furthermore, it was highlighted that C attended a state Christian school and would be attending another state Christian school soon. By blocking her child’s baptism, the mother felt that C would:

Feel excluded from the traditions and different from his half siblings, other members of her family, school friends and school traditions if he is not baptised.

But the judge said he did not believe that C was:

Likely to suffer any serious harm whether he is baptised at this stage or not.

The judge concluded that it was nevertheless an important matter which would have repercussions for the child’s worldview:

It may be thought that baptism would in these circumstances make little difference. I do not agree. It would amount to entire acceptance of the mother’s beliefs to the exclusion of the father’s, or at least it would so seem to him. I think that he would therefore resent the baptism. He has the legitimate view that, whilst he would not stand in the way of C’s involvement and participation in the Christianity practised by the mother and her family, C should not feel, when he comes to make his decisions, that they have already been made for him.

He will be less open to alternatives, including his father’s opinions. He might feel that having been baptised he would be rejecting the faith chosen for him rather than simply choosing not to follow his maternal family’s lead.

Mr Justice Butler emphasised that this conclusion “should not be regarded as applicable in all cases or even as a starting point,” adding that “there will be kaleidoscopic considerations in every case.”

The judge’s analysis concluded:

The right of the child to be free as he develops to make his own choices is subject to the right and duty of those with parental responsibility to make choices for him until he can choose for himself. Where there is a conflict between the views of separated parents or others with parental responsibility, the Court must act as impartial judicial reasonable parent. My view in this case is that the child will be happier knowing that the views of neither parent have prevailed over him and that the parents are tolerant of each other until he can make his own decision.

Mr Justice Butler ordered that the mother be prohibited from causing or allowing C to be baptised without the written consent of the father or further order of the Court.

17 responses to “In Gibraltar an atheist dad prevents son’s baptism”

  1. Broga says:

    He seems to be an articulate, intelligent father.

    I was baptised. My wife was baptised. Our children were not. Our grandchildren were not.

  2. L.Long says:

    Well all pissy over a few drops of water on both peoples parts….give marriage 5yrs max!!!!

  3. Paul says:

    This archaic silly ‘tradition’ is utterly meaningless unless you believe in ghosts fairies and that someone in the clouds is watching your every move. It really ought to be consigned to history.
    We are far too clever to have to put up with these Stone Age rituals that frankly achieve absolutely nothing for humanity. They might as well wash the child’s head in Coca Cola and sing Bohemian Rhapsody / it will have just as much effect. Nothing.

  4. 1859 says:

    I was baptised rather late (7 years old) and I was so angry that this dude in black was about to pour water over my head I knocked the cup from his hand and left the church. Trouble was, at 7 I had begun to think. This father (and judge) has done the correct thing – leaving the decision up to the child when he/she is able to fully understand what they are doing.

    Later in life I married a Jewish woman who, I assumed, held like me, strong secular beliefs. When our first child was born (a boy) she hesitated about having him circumcised. It was only my vehement opposition to any suggestion of such tribal scarring that saved his mutilation. Later my wife agreed that leaving him uncircumcised had been the right thing to do, but , for me and my wife,it served as a lesson as to how deep these irrational, cultural traditions can be. We went on to have 3 boys who, now grown men, are all happily uncircumcised and immensely grateful they still have their tackle in one piece.

  5. Laura Roberts says:

    I wasn’t baptised until shortly before my first communion (IIRC). My parents wanted to wait until I could decide for myself. My mother, to her credit, took me to several other churches in the area so I could make an “informed” decision. I still chose to be baptised in the family’s church, as even at that age I had no clue what I was doing — it was simply that all other churches seemed a bit weird to me.

    In contrast to 1859 above, I don’t think I was old enough to properly think about religion until I graduated college!

  6. Trevor Blake says:

    I can think of one rule in Christianity that is not a strongly held belief in this woman who had sex outside of marriage.

    Fortunately, her religion offers a way out. The father of the child can buy her as a sex slave so as to please her God (Exodus 22:16,17).

  7. Tony says:

    Hocus pocus … just like all religious ceremony … I recently saw a photo of that pope chappie in all his fancy regalia leaning one handed against a brick wall in a Nazi Death Camp looking all earnest and frowning as if he could actually make some kind of difference. It was pathetic. Pure horse shit. Actually the pope looked as if he was trying to deliver himself of a rather large effusion of intestinal gas. Yes, the pope does fart, and being a old man, probably produces some very unfragrant zephyrs even when he is waving from his balcony and when he is poking a nasty little cracker into some idiots maw. Now you know why the pope wafts that smoking incense burner around. The pope can cover up the odour of one of his postern blasts but no amount of air freshener can disguise the stench of criminality and corruption wafting from the sewage plant that is the vatican.

  8. Newspaniard says:

    @L.Long. *ahem* The parents were not married and their relationship had broken down. I think that your prophesy is probably right.

  9. AgentCormac says:

    My own baptism was, apparently, brought to an abrupt halt by my god-fearing grandmother who waved a copy of the bible above her head and demanded that my parents’ choice of godparents be rejected as said people (my parents’ best friends) were agnostics – and therefore in my gran’s eyes unfit for the role. I can only imagine the embarrassment as the vicar agreed and instructed my parents to choose ‘more suitable’ candidates right there and then from the assembled congregation. The fact that I had rejected religion by the time I’d reached my teens seems to me like a fitting riposte.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Fret not, gentle readers; it may be that unbaptized infants are NOT condemned to the horrors of eternal hellfire after all!

    The International Theological Commission has studied the question of the fate of un-baptised infants, bearing in mind the principle of the “hierarchy of truths” and the other theological principles of the universal salvific will of God, the unicity and insuperability of the mediation of Christ, the sacramentality of the Church in the order of salvation, and the reality of Original Sin. In the contemporary context of cultural relativism and religious pluralism the number of non-baptized infants has grown considerably, and therefore the reflection on the possibility of salvation for these infants has become urgent. The Church is conscious that this salvation is attainable only in Christ through the Spirit. But the Church, as mother and teacher, cannot fail to reflect upon the fate of all men, created in the image of God, and in a more particular way on the fate of the weakest members of the human family and those who are not yet able to use their reason and freedom…

    The conclusion of this study is that there are theological and liturgical reasons to hope that infants who die without baptism may be saved and brought into eternal happiness, even if there is not an explicit teaching on this question found in Revelation. However, none of the considerations proposed in this text to motivate a new approach to the question may be used to negate the necessity of baptism, nor to delay the conferral of the sacrament. Rather, there are reasons to hope that God will save these infants precisely because it was not possible to do for them that what would have been most desirable— to baptize them in the faith of the Church and incorporate them visibly into the Body of Christ.

    How kind and merciful God is; and how good are those who devote their time and energies to looking into these matters so that we mere mortals need not fear the tortures of hell!

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html

  11. David Anderson says:

    “Significantly, although the father objected to the baptism, he made no request to restrict any other type of religious influence on C’s life.”

    So “C” will still be brainwashed with RC bullshit. Not much of a victory then.

  12. 1859 says:

    ‘…bearing in mind the principle of the “hierarchy of truths” and the other theological principles of the universal salvific will of God, the unicity and insuperability of the mediation of Christ, the sacramentality of the Church in the order of salvation, and the reality of Original Sin….’

    Wonderful obfuscation at its best. Is this even English?

  13. barriejohn says:

    @1859: They make up a language of their own. Even evangelicals have a peculiar terminology which outsiders would find almost impossible to understand. I did like the bit about those who are not yet able to use their reason and freedom. These are the two things that are absolute anathema to the religious! They don’t do irony, do they?

  14. Cali Ron says:

    Paul: “They might as well wash the child’s head in Coca Cola and sing Bohemian Rhapsody…” I like that (…oh mama mia let me go!). Perhaps the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster could incorporate that into their church rituals, although, they might prefer used pasta water to Coca Cola.

    barriejohn: “…incorporate them visibly into the Body of Christ.” I’d like to see that! How exactly can you “visibly” incorporate something into something invisible (as they believe), let alone into something we know doesn’t exist. Biblical babbling.

  15. jay says:

    It’s not like the baptism actually DOES anything. The very fact that we’re not afraid of offending our sky god should mean we’re not threatened by some meaningless gesture.

    Making such a big deal really goes against our atheist cause.

  16. “Making such a big deal [of baptism] really goes against our atheist cause.”

    Whose side are you on? The father needs support for it is his choice not yours to oppose the baptism. Baptism is a big deal when it commits a child to a faith that has violent scriptures and threatens unbaptised with some punishment. Is that the kind of message you want a child to hear.Plus the fact that for religion it is a big deal and that is important. Infant baptism is the number one reason why Christianity has so much power in society and schools.