The other day I was chatting with two of my coworkers. One is a self-described "cafeteria Catholic" who picks and chooses from the Catholic dogma - she attends mass every week and had her kids baptized, but also supports gay marriage and birth control. The other is a lapsed Catholic who I'm pretty sure is either agnostic or atheist, but I'm not entirely sure.
Anyway, I'm not sure how this story came up, but my cafeteria Catholic friend told us a story that floored us. Her brother, she said, has fallen away from the church. He no longer attends at all, and didn't have his kids baptized. She said that she was talking to her mom about this at one point when her mother said confidently, "Oh, those kids have been baptized." Um, what?
Turns out, her mom (the kids' grandma) did an unofficial at-home baptism of the kids one time when she was babysitting them.
My coworker said that she is never planning on telling her brother or his wife about this because they would be furious. And I wouldn't blame them! My other coworker and I were just floored. I would be livid if one of my relatives did something like that! It's completely disrespectful of me as a person, and of my parenting choices. I was getting really angry just thinking about it!
What was really funny about it, though, to me was when I shared that story at a Freethinking Females meetup I went to that night. The other women there - atheists every one, and many of them moms - laughed and laughed! Who cares?, they said. It's not as if it actually DOES anything. It's not like she was taking the kids to church or something - a little sprinkling of water doesn't actually do anything other than maybe make their foreheads a little cleaner.
Huh. That wasn't a position I'd considered... maybe it's not actually worth getting all fired up over. On further reflection, though, I'm not sure. To me, it's still a very disrespectful gesture - it completely disregards the choices I've made for my life and for my children. It also seems like it could be inching towards a slippery slope... today a DIY baptism, tomorrow Sunday School, and who knows where it goes from there.
In the end, I feel that religion is pervasive enough in our society. I definitely don't need to let it make any more inroads into my life... or my children's lives.
And for the record, if anyone does try to baptize my kids? There will be hell to pay!