Infant baptism vs infant communion

Is there any good reason why, in the Western churches, small children can be baptised but not take communion?

It seems to me:

1. Baptism is the sacrament of initiation into the church, and communion is (among other things) the sacrament of continued membership of the church. It seems a bit odd that small children can become members of the church through baptism but then not participate in the stuff that members do.

2. The arguments against children receiving apply equally to infant baptism, e.g. if a child is too young to understand communion, they are also too young to understand baptism.

3. In any case, if lack of rational understanding is a problem, then half the congregation probably shouldn't be taking communion. There is an argument that communion is the sort of thing that can only be understood irrationally, if that makes sense, but I think children can understand things irrationally as well.

4. The Orthodox let children receive, so it's not incompatible with a very high view of the sacrament.

5. Also (and this may or may not be important) I would guess that if the Orthodox do it, it's more likely to be the Earliest Practice of the Church; the idea that the Orthodox could have changed while Westerners stay exactly the same is contrary to the natural order of the universe.
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Comments

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited October 27
    Baptized children can take communion in churches of my (Presbyterian) tribe, for many of the reasons you put forward, as well as others.

    ETA: I should note it was not always thus. This is a change that has happened in recent decades.

  • ArethosemyfeetArethosemyfeet Shipmate
    edited October 27
    I actually had this conversation with the elders of my local Church of Scotland and the provost the SEC Cathedral which is my nominal "home" church (nominal because it is 4 hours by ferry and requires a 50+ hour round trip to attend a Sunday service) and the consensus was that my 3 year old daughter is welcome to receive, though the latter suggested receiving only in one kind. I mention this because it rather challenges the premise of the question. The SEC's argument was indeed that it conformed with the earliest recorded practice of the pre-schism Church.
  • It should be added though that, in the Eastern churches, chrismation AKA confirmation is administered to infants within the same rite as baptism. Also, priests are authorized to do it.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    I actually had this conversation with the elders of my local Church of Scotland and the provost the SEC Cathedral which is my nominal "home" church (nominal because it is 4 hours by ferry and requires a 50+ hour round trip to attend a Sunday service) and the consensus was that my 3 year old daughter is welcome to receive, though the latter suggested receiving only in one kind. I mention this because it rather challenges the premise of the question.

    Yeah, I guess I opened myself up to that ... Thanks for the correction.
  • It should be added though that, in the Eastern churches, chrismation AKA confirmation is administered to infants within the same rite as baptism. Also, priests are authorized to do it.

    Chrismation is also the practice in the SEC now.
  • It should be added though that, in the Eastern churches, chrismation AKA confirmation is administered to infants within the same rite as baptism. Also, priests are authorized to do it.

    Chrismation is also the practice in the SEC now.
    Does it replace confirmation later on?


  • Within months of my birth I was baptised into the Methodist Church and resented it for decades. I now regard it with contemptuous amusement.

    It was an absurd process as my mother had no religious beliefs and it was only done to appease my maternal grandparents. I'm illegitimate and have no idea or interest in what my natural father thought of it all.

    I suppose the lesson is that if you do inflict your religion on your children they may not be grateful for it.
  • AravisAravis Shipmate
    Baptized children are also allowed to receive communion in Anglican churches in Wales, though can only receive the wine with the express permission of their parents. I think this change was introduced about two years ago.
  • As our church is ecumenical, some children have been baptised and others not. Communion is freely available to all, in both kinds (so there is virtue in using non-alcoholic wine!)
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    We have done it in our congregation for years now for the same reasons you listed.
  • Ricardus wrote: »
    2. The arguments against children receiving apply equally to infant baptism, e.g. if a child is too young to understand communion, they are also too young to understand baptism.

    Not necessarily endorsing one view over the other; but there's no concept of being 'baptised in an unworthy manner' as far as group baptisms go, whereas there is a concept of taking communion 'in an unworthy manner' and thus bringing judgement on oneself.
  • Ricardus wrote: »
    2. The arguments against children receiving apply equally to infant baptism, e.g. if a child is too young to understand communion, they are also too young to understand baptism.
    THis. If baptism and communion are anything other than mildly symbolic, then they are ridiculous to allow a child to participate.
    Ricardus wrote: »
    3. In any case, if lack of rational understanding is a problem, then half the congregation probably shouldn't be taking communion.
    Whilst I agree, there a logistical problems with enforcing this.


  • ArethosemyfeetArethosemyfeet Shipmate
    edited October 27
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    It should be added though that, in the Eastern churches, chrismation AKA confirmation is administered to infants within the same rite as baptism. Also, priests are authorized to do it.

    Chrismation is also the practice in the SEC now.
    Does it replace confirmation later on?


    The 2006 rite of Affirmation of Holy Baptism is described as being pastoral in intent, not as a sacrament. So yes in the sense that it is not required for admission to communion (or for any other reason), no in the sense that the rite still exists for those who want to make a profession of faith as an adult or when joining the SEC having been baptised elsewhere and can involve anointing with the oil of Chrism. Basically the change is recent enough that we're still well in the realms of Anglican fudge.
  • I'm curious about the alcohol ... how many teaspoons of wine is too much for a toddler? Are attitudes and practices around communion wine for kids different in Europe?

    (And I confess to using "The Orthodox ... this, that or whatever ..." regularly in religious discussions with my snake-belly-low evangelical friend. The church wot Jesus and Peter built, innit?)
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    We administer communion to very young children. I was LEM today and administered to a child who must have been 4. I’m Episcopalian, if that helps.
  • ExclamationMarkExclamationMark Shipmate
    edited October 27
    If the person who is being baptised can understand what is happening, then there can be no objection to receiving all the elements.

    If someone isn't baptised then that is no bar - admission to communion is on the basis of relationship, not the completion of works (even baptism). Communion is a sacrament in and of itself.
  • Ricardus wrote: »
    2. The arguments against children receiving apply equally to infant baptism, e.g. if a child is too young to understand communion, they are also too young to understand baptism.

    Not necessarily endorsing one view over the other; but there's no concept of being 'baptised in an unworthy manner' as far as group baptisms go, whereas there is a concept of taking communion 'in an unworthy manner' and thus bringing judgement on oneself.

    This. I've thought about this issue for years, and basically come to the conclusion that while I wouldn't have a problem with infants taking communion, there comes a point (when? Varies by the child) when it is possible to take communion in an unworthy manner, and if that point arrives prior to instruction (which is the best we can offer, humanly speaking, to help prevent that sort of thing), well, that's not good. So many places just say "no communion prior to instruction"--and the age for instruction varies depending on when they think kids can take it in.

    Infants, of course, can't commune unworthily, being incapable of that sort of sin; but I wouldn't like to guess when that blessing gets left behind. Maybe the point where you start bopping your little sister with a truck on purpose, as opposed to doing it because you don't understand the pain of others? And flat out refusing to say sorry and in fact sneaking around Mom's back to do it again? (Wouldn't want to commune a child in that frame of mind)

    Meh. It's a mess. In our congregation we didn't try to challenge Western practice because IMHO we didn't have sufficient grounds or authority in ourselves to overturn so many years of practice endorsed by wiser heads. If we had been Eastern we would have stayed with that tradition for the same reason.

    We did, however, choose to evaluate children individually for their readiness to begin instruction. That worked out well, as some were ready very early, while others weren't even at the traditional middle-school age.

  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    edited October 27
    I actually had this conversation with the elders of my local Church of Scotland and the provost the SEC Cathedral which is my nominal "home" church (nominal because it is 4 hours by ferry and requires a 50+ hour round trip to attend a Sunday service) and the consensus was that my 3 year old daughter is welcome to receive, though the latter suggested receiving only in one kind. I mention this because it rather challenges the premise of the question.

    To complete the challenge to the premises of the question, I have looked up the actual rules on the Church of England; turns out it is possible, if a.) the diocesan bishop makes it known that they will consider applications from parishes for children to receive; b.) the parish makes such an application; c.) the bishop accepts the application and agrees.

    Which seems an entirely unnecessary level of bureaucracy to my mind. Either allow it or don't, surely?
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, Hell Host
    @Colin Smith, one is baptized into the Body of Christ and the Christian faith, not into a specific denomination.

    Baptized children are welcome at the altar rail in my Episcopal parish.

  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    It should be added though that, in the Eastern churches, chrismation AKA confirmation is administered to infants within the same rite as baptism. Also, priests are authorized to do it.

    But I don't think confirmation in the West is usually the gateway to communion - traditionally it has been so in the Church of England, but 'first communion' in the Catholic church seems to happen some years before confirmation, and some years after baptism.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, Hell Host
    Confirmation used to be a prerequisite for communion, but that hasn't been the case in most churches for many years.
  • I've thought about this issue for years, and basically come to the conclusion that while I wouldn't have a problem with infants taking communion, there comes a point (when? Varies by the child) when it is possible to take communion in an unworthy manner, and if that point arrives prior to instruction (which is the best we can offer, humanly speaking, to help prevent that sort of thing), well, that's not good. So many places just say "no communion prior to instruction"--and the age for instruction varies depending on when they think kids can take it in.
    Can anyone be held responsible for communing unworthily before they’ve learned what that means and know to conduct themselves accordingly?

    I’d say instruction begins at the get-go and is ongoing, just as for anything else we want to teach children (like “don’t hit your sister/brother”). In my tribe, the starting point has generally been taken as being instructing the child in the meaning of Jesus’s invitation to the Table. As the child grows, further instruction can deepen understanding.

    I think I’ve shared before the story of my son when he was somewhere around 3. He and I got up from our pew to go forward and take communion. I was holding him rather letting him walk, and one of the reasons for that was so I could quietly remind him what we were doing and why. I didn’t get too far into it when, as kids will do, he reached out and pulled my lips shut with his hand. “I know,” he said. “This is Jesus’s bread, and he said I could have some.”

    I received communion thinking that maybe my 3-year-old understood it better—in his bones if not intellectually—than I did.

  • Within months of my birth I was baptised into the Methodist Church and resented it for decades. I now regard it with contemptuous amusement.

    It was an absurd process as my mother had no religious beliefs and it was only done to appease my maternal grandparents. I'm illegitimate and have no idea or interest in what my natural father thought of it all.

    I suppose the lesson is that if you do inflict your religion on your children they may not be grateful for it.
    Sure. And if you decide to inflict your antipathy to religion to your children to religion, they might not be grateful for that. Children not being grateful for the choices of their parents is hardly new, and hardly limited to questions of religion.

    But you said your mother had no religious beliefs, so how did she “inflict [her] religion” on you? If all she did was take you to be baptized, why was that one act worth decades of resentment? Or were you resenting the family dynamic that led to the decision to have you baptized?

    Meanwhile, what @Rossweisse said about being baptized into the Body of Christ, not into a specific denomination or church.

  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited October 27
    Can we unpack "receiving unworthily" a bit.

    Starting point - I am aware of the Epistle passage on which the concept is based.

    What does it mean to receive unworthily?

    What does it mean to have judgement brought on oneself?

    In the NT passage in question, the plain reading is that God makes people ill for this sin and some of them die.

    Do we believe God does that? If so, doesn't that mean God is the vindictive monster I fear he is (past threads refer)?

    If not, what do we believe is the consequence? Why?

  • I suppose the lesson is that if you do inflict your religion on your children they may not be grateful for it.

    Certainly. The obvious corollary to that of course is that the child may prove to be very grateful for it. I thank God that my mother shared her religion with me (which included infant baptism). I daresay if she had tried to 'inflict' it on me, it might've been a different outcome! But I can't fairly call a twenty minute ceremony which, at six weeks, I have no memory of an 'infliction' of any kind. Not one that couldn't be easily shrugged off at any rate.

    Ref: baptism with communion thing. I'm with the Scottish Episcopal Church so I'd love to see a movement to ever younger children receiving. We have 'first' communion for young (though not very young) children at the moment; trying to reserve the Affirmation of Holy Baptism (formerly Confirmation) for adults, older kids, or folks newly received into the SEC, if they request that.

    My view is that if by baptism we are welcoming someone (of whatever age) into the household of faith, or family of Christ, how long should we expect them not to join in with family meal-times? We don't expect our growing children to learn the deep significance of the food we give them for their nourishment, or give them lessons in how to appreciate their fish and chips appropriately. We guide them in their feeding, alongside them at the table, so they get age-appropriate help to get the most out of their food. And hopefully they grow into a real and healthy relationship with what's happening. That's how I see it.

    Also, Jesus said 'let the little children come to me'. You could argue that he didn't specifically mean at the altar-rail in a church, to receive the bread and/or wine. But why not, if we really believe he is physically present in that form?

    I get the 'eating and drinking unworthily' thing. But I assume that applies firstly, to Paul's context for those who were turning up to glut themselves without actually fellowshipping and worshipping as they should, and even at the expense of others. And secondly, that it was about eating and drinking the Body and Blood, without 'discerning' the Body of Christ, ie, appreciating the actual members of the Body of Christ, our fellow brothers and sisters. Piously receiving 'our' sacrament, while being hateful to our fellow church members. Receiving Christ and rejecting him at one and the same time.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    One thing I've been wondering is: in the Middle Ages, people would mostly 'hear' mass rather than receive it, and I understand that even after the Reformation, people were reluctant to receive (hence the Exhortations to Communion in the BCP). So I wonder if the practice of withholding communion from children was, historically, less 'Not suitable for children under the age of Confirmation', and more 'It's hard enough getting the parents to receive, let's not even try with the kids'.
  • I rather doubt it. Kids are less able to wriggle out of such things IME.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    KarlLB wrote: »
    Can we unpack "receiving unworthily" a bit.

    Starting point - I am aware of the Epistle passage on which the concept is based.

    What does it mean to receive unworthily?

    What does it mean to have judgement brought on oneself?

    In the NT passage in question, the plain reading is that God makes people ill for this sin and some of them die.

    Do we believe God does that? If so, doesn't that mean God is the vindictive monster I fear he is (past threads refer)?

    If not, what do we believe is the consequence? Why?

    I am glad you brought this up. When Paul discusses the Lord's Supper in 1 Cor. 11, he was sharply critical of some of the richer Corinthians preventing the poorer Corinthians from partaking of the meal. It was a full meal at the time, by the way, much like potlucks. He even castigates indivduals for getting drunk during these meals.

    Paul then breaks it down to what the meal is all about, the taking of the two elements as the body and blood of the Lord.

    As I see it, what Paul says is an unworthy manner is first preventing other Christians--in the case at hand, children--from participating in the Lord's Meal. Second it is in overindulging (getting drunk) in the meal.

    As most churches do not have a full agape meal anymore and limit the use of the wine to just a swallow, there is little chance of over-indulging in the meal. However, I do think those who prevent the children from partaking are being unworthy in how they commune only adults or those that are confirmed.
  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    Ricardus wrote: »
    One thing I've been wondering is: in the Middle Ages, people would mostly 'hear' mass rather than receive it, and I understand that even after the Reformation, people were reluctant to receive (hence the Exhortations to Communion in the BCP).

    I have the impression many people did not receive because they were afraid that if they sinned later on, it was much worse than if they had not received and later sinned.

  • Moo wrote: »
    Ricardus wrote: »
    One thing I've been wondering is: in the Middle Ages, people would mostly 'hear' mass rather than receive it, and I understand that even after the Reformation, people were reluctant to receive (hence the Exhortations to Communion in the BCP).

    I have the impression many people did not receive because they were afraid that if they sinned later on, it was much worse than if they had not received and later sinned.

    I thought that was the argument for delaying baptism until near the point of death (a la Constantine).
  • Ricardus wrote: »
    2. The arguments against children receiving apply equally to infant baptism, e.g. if a child is too young to understand communion, they are also too young to understand baptism.

    Not necessarily endorsing one view over the other; but there's no concept of being 'baptised in an unworthy manner' as far as group baptisms go, whereas there is a concept of taking communion 'in an unworthy manner' and thus bringing judgement on oneself.

    This. I've thought about this issue for years, and basically come to the conclusion that while I wouldn't have a problem with infants taking communion, there comes a point (when? Varies by the child) when it is possible to take communion in an unworthy manner, and if that point arrives prior to instruction (which is the best we can offer, humanly speaking, to help prevent that sort of thing), well, that's not good. So many places just say "no communion prior to instruction"--and the age for instruction varies depending on when they think kids can take it in.

    Infants, of course, can't commune unworthily, being incapable of that sort of sin; but I wouldn't like to guess when that blessing gets left behind. Maybe the point where you start bopping your little sister with a truck on purpose, as opposed to doing it because you don't understand the pain of others? And flat out refusing to say sorry and in fact sneaking around Mom's back to do it again? (Wouldn't want to commune a child in that frame of mind)

    Meh. It's a mess. In our congregation we didn't try to challenge Western practice because IMHO we didn't have sufficient grounds or authority in ourselves to overturn so many years of practice endorsed by wiser heads. If we had been Eastern we would have stayed with that tradition for the same reason.

    We did, however, choose to evaluate children individually for their readiness to begin instruction. That worked out well, as some were ready very early, while others weren't even at the traditional middle-school age.

    If sin (e.g. bopping sister on the head) makes us unworthy to take communion then none of us are worthy. I suppose if one believes in sacramental confession and reconciliation, then you could insist on that right before receiving communion, and hope you don't sin between the confession box and the communion rail (good luck with that). But churches that have believers' baptism don't generally have sacramental confession and reconciliation. One could be forgiven for thinking that one would then ALWAYS be receiving unworthily.
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    edited October 27
    It's not sin that disturbs me, it's unrepentance--and that in the form of an apparently wholehearted attempt to do the same bloody thing again, right now, and that just before going up to the altar. The adult equivalent might be texting somebody harmful lies about a third party, then beginning another text of exactly the same type and stopping halfway through to walk up to the altar--with every intention of finishing the second message afterward. Whatever else may be involved in communing unworthily, being in the midst of active, intentional and unrepented harm toward others is surely up there. Otherwise why the text about reconciling with others before making an offering?

    I suspect that for some here, children's sins get a pass as not so serious. Think again. I was wholly capable of murder at age 7 in a blind rage.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    If sin (e.g. bopping sister on the head) makes us unworthy to take communion then none of us are worthy. I suppose if one believes in sacramental confession and reconciliation, then you could insist on that right before receiving communion, and hope you don't sin between the confession box and the communion rail (good luck with that). But churches that have believers' baptism don't generally have sacramental confession and reconciliation. One could be forgiven for thinking that one would then ALWAYS be receiving unworthily.

    A Kempis, amongst others, deals with this in 2 ways with some tension between them. Firstly, he says that none of us is worthy and that we never can be no matter how sincerely repent and attempt to live blameless lives. He then says that despite recognising our unworthiness we must not postpone taking communion as that is the way in which we obtain grace and ultimately will be reconciled.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Baptized children can take communion in churches of my (Presbyterian) tribe, for many of the reasons you put forward, as well as others.

    ETA: I should note it was not always thus. This is a change that has happened in recent decades.

    Yeah, as a Presby pastor (PCUSA) my issue is the flip side of this. Our Book of Order is all inclusive and kumbaya when it comes to baptism-- affirming both infant and believer baptism, making a good argument for both, leaving it up to the parents. All good vibes and we can be a big tent and Christians agree to disagree and all that.

    ... And then we slam the door shut and say communion is open to baptized children only, which doesn't fit with our fuller understanding of both sacraments and how they fit together. I can't find any justification to support that from a Reformed pov, and I'm not doing an interrogation to figure out which kids have been baptized and which haven't.
  • ECraigR wrote: »
    We administer communion to very young children. I was LEM today and administered to a child who must have been 4. I’m Episcopalian, if that helps.

    You'll find some 3 and 4 year olds receiving at our TEC shack. We do a formal "first communion" at about age 7 like the Catholics do, although I suspect that's more because the parents want the photos with the white dresses. I'd say that about 50% of the "first communion" class are already regular communicants at that point.

    I don't believe I've seen anyone communicate a baby, nor have I known anyone to enquire. I suspect the concerns would be more for preventing our Lord's Most Precious being dribbled down a babygro rather than worrying about what the baby understood.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Baptized children can take communion in churches of my (Presbyterian) tribe, for many of the reasons you put forward, as well as others.

    ETA: I should note it was not always thus. This is a change that has happened in recent decades.

    Yeah, as a Presby pastor (PCUSA) my issue is the flip side of this. Our Book of Order is all inclusive and kumbaya when it comes to baptism-- affirming both infant and believer baptism, making a good argument for both, leaving it up to the parents. All good vibes and we can be a big tent and Christians agree to disagree and all that.

    ... And then we slam the door shut and say communion is open to baptized children only, which doesn't fit with our fuller understanding of both sacraments and how they fit together. I can't find any justification to support that from a Reformed pov, and I'm not doing an interrogation to figure out which kids have been baptized and which haven't.
    Not anymore—not as of the adoption of the revised Directory for Worship a few years ago. Now the Directory says: “ The opportunity to eat and drink with Christ is not a right bestowed upon the worthy, but a privilege given to the undeserving who come in faith, repentance, and love. All who come to the table are offered the bread and cup, regardless of their age or understanding. If some of those who come have not yet been baptized, an invitation to baptismal preparation and Baptism should be graciously extended.” (W–3.0409)

    So while there is a presumption of baptism first, and of an invitation to baptism to those unbaptized who commune (though nothing is said about cases where an affirmative response to that invitation is slow in coming), the Directory is clear that “[a]ll who come to the table are offered the bread and cup.”

    This revised language was motivated in part by the concerns you expressed.

  • Sounds to me as if, previously, there was a lack of joined-up thinking somewhere down the line. Did the "baptism" rubric get revised without anyone thinking of the need to revise the "communion" one?
  • The "baptism rubric" committee and the "communion rubric" committee didn't talk to each other.
  • That's what I was thinking.
  • I saw this title yesterday, but have only now read the posts. I see how convention and practice of baptism and confirmation function, but I think the mildest way to express my views is to say that I hope that, if people would like to have a celebration of the naming of their children, one without religious attachment is more rational. The child then can make a religious choice if s/he wishes later on. Perhaps a special registration office with a certificate could be organised. I don't know, and of course things are not going to change fast anyway and certainly not in my lifetime.
  • Of course a naming ceremony without religious attachment is more rational, but what if one wants, even ever so slightly, a 'religious attachment' After all, at least for people of faith, baptism is so much more than a 'naming ceremony'.
    ('Naming ceremonies' as such are certainly not unknown here, particularly for people without religious attachment.)
  • Rossweisse wrote: »
    @Colin Smith, one is baptized into the Body of Christ and the Christian faith, not into a specific denomination.

    Baptized children are welcome at the altar rail in my Episcopal parish.

    I think you missed my point. I don't object to Methodism. I object to my forced participation in ritualistic nonsense.

    Leave church and belief until a child is able to make an informed choice.
  • Rossweisse wrote: »
    @Colin Smith, one is baptized into the Body of Christ and the Christian faith, not into a specific denomination.

    Baptized children are welcome at the altar rail in my Episcopal parish.

    I think you missed my point. I don't object to Methodism. I object to my forced participation in ritualistic nonsense.

    Leave church and belief until a child is able to make an informed choice.

    If it's actually nonsense and you don't remember it then what possible harm has it done you?
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    And why not do the same for diet, exercise, how to talk to strangers, vaccinations and other medical treatment?

    Your response appears to assume faith is a relatively unimportant lifestyle choice.
  • BroJames wrote: »
    And why not do the same for diet, exercise, how to talk to strangers, vaccinations and other medical treatment?

    Your response appears to assume faith is a relatively unimportant lifestyle choice.

    That's all faith is. In my view.

  • If it's actually nonsense and you don't remember it then what possible harm has it done you?

    It's the principle of it. The imposition of one person's beliefs onto another against their will or without their permission is wrong.
  • If parents don't "impose" their worldview on children, someone/something else will. What matters is how parents behave when their children start asking questions and making their own decisions.
  • Rossweisse wrote: »
    @Colin Smith, one is baptized into the Body of Christ and the Christian faith, not into a specific denomination.

    Baptized children are welcome at the altar rail in my Episcopal parish.

    I think you missed my point. I don't object to Methodism. I object to my forced participation in ritualistic nonsense.

    Leave church and belief until a child is able to make an informed choice.

    So, as a young child you sat there in church with your adult's rational head upon your shoulders scorning the 'ritualistic nonsense'? Unless your church was wildly different from 99% of every other shack, you sang songs, heard stories and hung about with other people. Oh my, however did you survive the horror?!

    Actually, all you did was what a majority of people in your experience do, which is grow up and become sceptical. Which only goes to prove that baptising an infant child is hardly the crippling, human-rights-denying 'infliction' you're making it out to be. And indeed as few parents and godparents keep their promises, most baptised children grow up completely outwith the Church anyway. So unless you believe in some kind of ontological change or spiritually indelible effect of the baptismal moment (which would be very strange indeed) your anxiety over its effect seems illogical and misplaced.

    Perhaps your beef, then, is with the tiny minority who bring their kids to church with them. So long as there is not abuse or assault, it seems perfectly reasonable for a parent with a belief which they live out (whether theist or atheistic) to share that with the children under their guardianship. In fact it's impossible to envisage any healthy child's upbringing being carried out without parental sharing of philosophical and moral teaching, guidance, and the establishing of basic behavioural mores. Even should it simply be a choice between: we don't murder people because we are to respect each other's humanity or we don't murder people because God teaches we are to respect each other's humanity.

    Unless you'd like to posit that only atheists are fit to bring children up, or only atheists should be allowed to share their worldview and lifestyle choices with their growing families? I rather think you would.

    The child will soon reach its own age of reason, and will have a choice to select or reject. If the growing person has decided that baptism is 'nothing' to them, then 'nothing' has happened, and they're hardly the loser, beyond having had to do what every kid has to do until they can pay their own rent, which is put up with Mum and Dad's rules.

  • Close colleagues and I have regularly given communion to infants with parental permission (usually by dipping a pinkie finger into the cup and then letting them suck), and to older children with a wafer, intincted if parents give permission.

    In my current setting I have a young child who, since birth, had been held in his grandmother's arms while she served as Lay Assistant at the altar. He is now 3 and stands with her. He does not understand why he cannot "have a cookie" as he puts it. Just recently he helped himself to the breadbox on the credence table, took out an unconsecrated wafer, then knelt by the rail and consumed his "cookie" with all due reverence.

    The lad's mother does not want him to recieve "until he understands what it is" to which one of my more outspoken colleagues noted that we do not deny children breakfast, lunch or dinner "until they understand the basics of nutrition" -- we feed them and then instruct, and communion might well be handled in the same way.
  • Rossweisse wrote: »
    @Colin Smith, one is baptized into the Body of Christ and the Christian faith, not into a specific denomination.

    Baptized children are welcome at the altar rail in my Episcopal parish.

    I think you missed my point. I don't object to Methodism. I object to my forced participation in ritualistic nonsense.

    Leave church and belief until a child is able to make an informed choice.

    If it's actually nonsense and you don't remember it then what possible harm has it done you?
    That is an unknown! What good do you think it might have, or has done?

    Another point re leaving the decision until an informed choice can be made: that is where I think it is so important that all children learn about beliefs and their history, so that the informed choice can be as unbiased as it can be.

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