Baby, it's you - Life and Style - The Independent

Baby, it's you

Head to head We have civil weddings, so why not civil baptisms? Lord Young puts his case for a new `baby-naming' ceremony against Catholic convert Ann Widdecombe

Pro-baby-naming

"I'm an anthropologist and sociologist; my greatest concern is that we're losing our rituals as the influence of the church fades. In every other society except ours, births are a cause for celebration. More than half our babies now enter the world without any rite of passage simply because people no longer go to church. These ceremonies would be best off in church; in the meantime we need to replace the lost rituals. The ceremonies are already happening, in people's gardens, hotels - but we want to make them more mainstream, we are suggesting that registrars lead them.

The ceremonies last 10 to 20 minutes, and, like baptism, focus on the promises made to the child. They're frequently moving experiences; parents and godparents have to make very public promises. One grandmother, initially against the ceremony, said how overwhelmed she felt by the love expressed. They're empowering: one mum commented that if she had had her baby baptised the most important decision she would have made would have been what to wear. They bind families together; in the case of unmarried parents the two families may never have met.

What we're trying to do is underline and assert the responsibilities to the child. You can't preach family values from the pulpit, via politicians or Parliament. It's a bit like a civil wedding. Most unmarried fathers think if they've signed the birth certificate they have equal rights to married fathers, which is incorrect, so we're looking at the legal implications as well. This wouldn't be a burden on the State; people would have to pay for it, like weddings. It could even increase revenue."

Lord Michael Young of Dartington is a Labour peer and founder of the Baby Naming Society, 66 High Street, Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 1DU (01905 371 070)

Anti-baby-naming

"The ceremony is a load of rubbish for the very simple reason that there is no need for it. There is a need to have a civil equivalent for a marriage ceremony because marriage is a specific state recognised by law, but baptism is not about naming the child, it's about the child's entry into the Church and therefore there is no point to a secular equivalent. I'm sick of this business, people want it all ways, they reject the Church but they want the equivalent ceremony. Well, forget it - it's totally namby-pamby.

There is an obvious analogy with baptism in that a lot of people have a child `christened' because it's the thing to do, but that child won't grow up a practising member of the Church unless the parents go to church regularly; similarly, the parents won't have the attitude towards their child that they just announce at any old baby-naming ceremony unless the attitudes were there in the first place. It's just a nonsense - a glorified birthday party.

If you want to give unmarried fathers `rights' then you do that through the law itself, not through some cack-handed ceremony. A father already has responsibilities in law and can be pursued by the Child Support Agency, and if he's so keen on claiming his rights why hasn't he married the mother, and given the child a stable upbringing of a father and a mother? I don't think the ceremony undermines the role of the Church at all, and I see no reason why the Church should start compromising. If people don't choose to go to Church there's nothing on earth to stop them welcoming their child in their own home. Frankly, if you bring it into the realms of the registry office, it's a waste of time and effort."

The Right Honourable Ann Widdecombe MP is shadow health secretary and former Home Office minister

Suggested Topics
News
Residents of James Turner Street such as White Dee will have a chance to share their experiences of benefits on a Channel 4 spin-off show
peopleBenefits Street star says mixed-race children were subjected to trolling
Sport
David Moyes and Rio Ferdinand
FootballRio Ferdinand on why the former manager failed at United
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
film
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
News
newsIn short, yes
Extras
indybest
News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
Life and Style
Jourdan Dunn gave TopShop’s Unique show some added glamour at London Fashion Week
fashion week
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    £50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    £50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

    Nursery Nurse

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Job opportunity for a nursery nurse...

    McAfee Security Engineer

    £42000 - £48000 per annum + Site allowance: Ashdown Group: McAfee EPO Speciali...

    Day In a Page

    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
    The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

    The fall of Rome?

    Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
    Glasgow girl made good

    Glasgow girl made good

    Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
    Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

    Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

    Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
    The landscape of my imagination

    The landscape of my imagination

    Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories