Can I do my own baptism?
Baptism Without a Church: When Parents Are Non-Denominational
There are many reasons for this: Even parents who do not belong to any denomination sometimes want to have their children baptized anyway. We have found out for you under what circumstances this is possible and what alternatives are available.
Around 300,000 children are baptized every year, in 2020 there were significantly fewer, probably also because large celebrations were not possible due to Corona. But do those baptized also include children whose parents are non-denominational, i.e. have left the church or were not members at all? This is the question asked by parents who want to have their child baptized even though they have long since said goodbye to the two churches.
Baptism without a Church: The Reasons
There are a variety of reasons for having your child baptized even if you are not a member of the Church yourself. Often people have resigned in protest against church politics, but still believe in God and do not want to withhold this from their offspring.
Or the families live in Christian communities in which their children become outsiders if they were not baptized and then cannot go to communion or later to confirmation like their friends. Sometimes parents also want to do relatives a favor.
Then there is often a very practical reason: you want to enroll your child in a denominational school or a denominational daycare center. These childcare centers are now not allowed to reject non-denominational children or children of other religions, but the demand is simply too great and as a Catholic or Protestant you certainly have better chances.
So there are enough reasons to have a child baptized even though you are no longer a church member yourself. What do the churches say about this?
Baptism without a Catholic Church membership
There is no such thing as no, but yes is conditional. The parents must speak to the responsible pastor and explain in this baptismal conversation why they want their child to be baptized.
Reinhild Ahlers, who heads the Canon Law Office in the Diocese of Münster, explained in an interview with "Church and Life": "It must be clear that the Christian faith is conveyed to the child There is a person in the immediate vicinity of the child - not the grandma, who now and then travels from Munich - who takes on the religious upbringing. "
Accordingly, the godparents should then also be selected who are to help the parents in the task of imparting the Christian faith. In the end, it is up to the pastor to decide whether or not to accept the baptism. He can't refuse it, but he can put it off - until the situation changes.
This can mean that one of the parents has rejoined the church or has found godparents who can better support them. Or you wait until the child expresses the wish to be baptized.
Baptism without Protestant church membership
In the Protestant Church, the procedure is similar to that in the Catholic Church. The regulations are different in the respective regional church. Basically, however, it again depends on how the pastor sees the wish for baptism.
If it is clear that there is only one way to the evangelical day care center or you do it because Grandma is otherwise too upset, there should be greater reluctance. Then baptism could also be postponed until circumstances change.
Baptism without a church: it depends on the godparents!
Godparents are always important at a baptism and they are only waived in special cases at a baptism. In the case of non-denominational parents who want to have their child baptized, the godparents play an even greater role. They should guarantee that the Christian faith of the respective denomination is brought closer to the person being baptized.
That means - the sponsors should be church members, in the Catholic Church they have to be at least 16 years old, in the Protestant Church this is already possible from 14 years. And they also have to be of the right denomination.
For Protestant baptisms in which the parents are church members, Catholics can also assume the sponsorship office, but this is not allowed if the parents are not denominational. Then they have to belong to the respective denomination. The sponsors may also be those suggesting intercessions or baptismal verses.
Do you have to pay for a baptism when you are not in church?
You could get the idea, because if you are not in church, you don't pay church tax. But baptisms are usually free. However, you could pay for the flower arrangements if you want something special for the baptism. A donation for the parish is always welcome, but it is not mandatory.
What documents do you need for baptism?
In principle, the same rules apply to all baptisms. You need:
- Child's birth certificate or family register
- Parents ID cards
- possibly marriage certificate
- Certificate of church affiliation of the godparents
Baptism without a church: persuasion is the order of the day
As you can see, baptisms are possible even if you no longer belong to a denomination. But you must have compelling reasons why you want your child to be baptized even though you have sworn off or never joined the Church. As a rule, however, the churches are happy when they win new members, because the decline in membership continues.
The alternative: free baptism
You don't want to join your child in any religious community, but you like the ceremony of baptism? Then you can do what is called a free baptism. The name is a bit misleading as it is more of a welcoming ritual than a baptism in the strict sense of the word.
Religious elements can also play a role in free baptism, but they do not have to be. You are mainly committed to your parental responsibilities and have friends and relatives officially welcome your new family member. This can be a very emotional moment for parents as well as the guests and should strengthen the bond between parents and their child.
You can have the ceremony carried out by a professional speaker or free theologian or you can carry it out yourself, celebrate at your home or rent a location. As the name suggests, the form of the celebration is also absolutely free.
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