This last Sunday my granddaughter was christened. She is a 13 month-old joyful noisy little soul and we had a vision of her running round the church shouting “Bugger!” – or something that sounded like it. In a fact she smiled at everyone, chatted and was most gracious. When offered wholemeal communion bread, she scoffed it was was ready for more.
The christening was held at a small, modern Methodist church. The female minister was friendly, informal and a credit to her trade, and the whole event, which included the full service with communion, was relaxed and adapted to families. The congregation were a small group of nice elderly folk leavened by a handful of younger immigrants, but generally the demographic suggests that the church is dying off and not being replaced. This doesn’t concern me because I am an atheist.
There lies the problem. We are a family of atheists, including the parents of my daughter-in-law. None of my children have been christened and the sole reason for christening my grandchild is because it is a requirement if she is to be enrolled at some future date at a state-funded faith school for reason purely of education. This is necessary because the state has lately been promoting faith schools at the same time as the general attendance at Christian churches has been collapsing save for those attended by nutters and such schools are imposing religious entry tests. I find this fundamentally objectionable regardless of whether one finds religion to be a divisive institution (I do) Not least it promotes hypocrisy in people like myself in order to obtain something to which we should be entitled simply as tax payers or citizens.
I have no problem with teaching religion in schools; indeed I think it desirable because our culture and much of its art is incomprehensible without some knowledge of religion. But it should be provided solely as information on an ecumenical basis and without requirement for belief or practice.
‘Nuff said. I shall go and mutter to the dead leaves in the garden