Proposed: baptism without the religion, Godparents, holy water
By BESS TWISTON DAVIES RELIGION-FREE baptisms without holy water or Godparents could soon be taking place in hotel lounges and pub function rooms, if plans for a secular naming ceremony become law.
The Home Office Ministerial Group on the Family is looking at proposals to allow registrars to conduct secular baptisms for parents who do not want a Christian baptism for their child.
This naming ritual would contain poetry and light music. Sponsors or saysupporters will act as the equivalent to God parents. A draft of the new ceremony suggests that parents promise
their child patience, protection and unconditional love.
Ann Widdecombe MP described the new baptisms as "absolutely superfluous". "There is no need for a legal alternative to baptism as there is no legal status involved," she said.
Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue, the Auxiliary Bishop for west London, said he was "perplexed" by the idea."I'm flabbergasted," he said. "I would be extremely nervous about this were it to be regarded as an alternative to baptism."
Nicholas Coote, Assistant Secretary to the Bishop's Conference, said it would be wrong "to spurn this alternative. We have to face the fact that we live in an increasingly secular society. But the last thing we want is to cajole people into going through baptism as a kind of good-luck charm," Mgr Kieran Conry from the Catholic Media Office said: "I can't see why Catholics would object to this kind of service.
"In baptism the child is being welcomed into the Christian community. What kind of community is the child welcomed into in these alternative services?
"I've heard parents asking for a Catholic baptism because they want to get their child into Catholic schools."
Lord Young of Darting ton, the Labour Peer who founded the Baby Naming Society four years ago said "Registrars would give advice on parental responsibilty, stressing that fathers remain with their children."