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Christianity, aside from it's appearance in bad light the past couple of years, has a lot of meaningful values. It teaches children to control their emotions through telling stories. The knowledge of the story of Jesus will support the history courses they'll be taught etc.

On the other hand, I feel like I shouldn't force a religion upon a child. I absolutely feel that every person should be able to choose if and or what religion they can sympathize to yet the education system here (Belgium) isn't exactly very engaged in filling or even creating courses to replace Religion with in elementary school for example.

I was not raised as a Catholic but my girlfriend is.

Any advice or anecdotes are welcome !

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    "The knowledge of the story of Jesus will support the history courses they'll be taught" speaking as someone from a neighbouring country (Germany), your child will not need to be baptized to learn these stories. They will hear them whether they want to or not. – YviDe Nov 3 '15 at 8:56
  • What exactly would you consider a class that "replaces religion"? I'm a little unsure about what you're actually expecting a child to learn from a religion that it would not otherwise learn. – Erik Nov 3 '15 at 9:58
  • @Erik I think the OP is referring to the fact that Belgium used to have mandatory religious education classes in school. These are now optional. – YviDe Nov 3 '15 at 10:00
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    Okay, but then I'd still like to learn what the OP thought a child would learn there that it needed and would not get elsewhere. :) – Erik Nov 3 '15 at 10:02
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    I don't think this question can really be a good SE question, unfortunately. There's no good answer to "should I baptize my child" other than "do you want to baptize your child?", making it opinion and discussion oriented. – Joe Nov 3 '15 at 18:50
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Baptism is not an inculcation, but an expression of a commitment. If your child has not had their skills of knowledge between right and wrong developed, how can they commit (Hebrews 5:14)? More so, how can they follow the instruction to love with all their heart and soul (Deuteronomy 6:5)?

If you must force your child to believe through any means, then your child is not yet a believer. Belief cannot be forced, it cannot be rushed, it can only be accepted. As the saying goes, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

When I was around 8yo, I asked to be baptized. I was denied because I could not fully understand the consequences of my choice. When I was 19, I was baptized. I am no longer religious. The path we follow does not always follow the choices we make, but if we are educated to think for ourselves, we will follow the path we feel is best for us.

If forced against one's will, one is more likely to oppose the force -- even if it is reasonable -- so, ask yourselves this: What's the rush?

I know no better answer than to ask a question, but I hope it is helpful.

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    Certain denominations have an expectation of baptizing infants. Specifically, Catholicism (mentioned in the question), teaches of baptism as a sacrament, not an ordinance, and is something to be done to infants. This answer may not be effective if the mother of the child is Catholic and has different expectations regarding baptism. – user11394 Nov 3 '15 at 17:41
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If you are mainly concerned about your child learning about religion, there is no need to baptize them for that purpose.

You can not only teach them all you want them to learn about religion at home, you can also go to church with them without having made the promise of raising them Catholic (which is what a baptism is). Nobody will stop you from telling them stories from the Bible or sending them to Sunday school, if such a thing exists where you are.

Even if you don't do that, living in a society that is dominated by Christianity, your child will pick up on a lot (Christmas Story, Easter story, etc) even without you explicitly telling these things and will likely have questions that you can use as a starting point for talking about religion.

In addition to that, you can also talk to your child about other religions, and why you are not baptized (I couldn't determine from the question whether you identify as non-religious or just not belonging to a specific Christian group).

From experience (raised Protestant, but went to Catholic school, now an Atheist), the Catholic Church takes baptism rather seriously. Since your child can always get baptized later if they wish to, I'd at least have a long talk with a priest before considering baptism. And your wife, of course. Depending on her beliefs, she might be very invested in having a child baptised, to free the child of the original sin.

While it's not something many people who later leave the faith are bothered by, you might also want to know that

In late August 2010, the Holy See confirmed that it was no longer possible to defect formally  from the Catholic Church

Source: Wikipedia

According to the Vatican, baptism binds you for life (there are exceptions, like if you comitt a grave sin you are automatically excommunicated, but that's beyond the scope of this answer, I think)

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    "the Catholic Church takes baptism rather seriously." Indeed it does. I find it curious that no one has addressed what the wife believes about infant baptism and hell. It matters. – anongoodnurse Nov 3 '15 at 18:34
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    @anongoodnurse good point. I usually just assume talking to the partner is a given, but I should have mentioned it. The Catholic Church is serious about this in both directions - infants should be baptized, but when you are baptized there is also no real "out" according to their teachings. Many people who leave Catholicism later don't care about that so much, but it is a factor. – YviDe Nov 3 '15 at 18:37
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    That's also a good point! :) – anongoodnurse Nov 3 '15 at 18:38
  • +1 - My answer was accepted, but yours is excellent. I came back b/c someone is going through and down-voting this entire question & answers, but was glad to see a great response like yours! – Sylas Seabrook Nov 6 '15 at 2:24
  • @Jeremy Miller yes, the downvotes on both answers (and the question?) with no comment was strange. Thanks for the upvote – YviDe Nov 6 '15 at 8:18
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You don't mention the ages of your children, but from my (extremely limited) understanding of Catholicism, I presume you are referring to baptism while they are still very young.

My wife is christian. I am not (I'm not really religious at all, and have both specific and general concerns about most organized religions).

My son was baptized as an infant.

My reasoning for this was twofold:

  1. The ceremony and symbolism was meaningful to my wife. Therefore, it has de facto meaning for me. It doesn't hurt me to have my son participate in a ceremony I don't believe in. It might hurt my wife's feelings if we skipped it.

  2. I don't want to force my lack of religion on my son any more than I would want to force religion on him. As an infant, he was too young for baptism to have any meaning to him now. However, when he gets older, if he does decide to embrace religion, the fact that he was baptized may wind up having quite a lot of significance to him. If he doesn't, I doubt very much that it will offend him that we baptized him; it just won't have any special meaning to him.

protected by anongoodnurse Nov 3 '15 at 4:21

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