Letter: Baptism in Christianity and Buddhism

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your correspondents on the question of a secular alternative to the service of baptism seem universally to have missed the point (Letters, 25 July). Baptism is not, and never has been, a service for the naming of a child. Consult the rubrics of both the Book of Common Prayer and the Alternative Service Book services for baptism of infants and you will find that the name of the child is used throughout. The name is given by the parents, not by the church.

Baptism is the service of initiation into the church: the way in which professing Christians become members of that body, whether as adults or as infants - and it is therefore entirely appropriate that parents, bringing their children for baptism, should be asked to make a profession of the faith into which their child is being baptised.

Yes, there is the service of thanksgiving for the birth of a child, but this should not be confused with any secular ceremony for naming, or for parents committing themselves to bringing up the child. It, too, requires a certain level of faith, for it is thanksgiving to God for the safe delivery - and how can one thank a God whom one doesn't believe exists?

Yours faithfully,


Reading, Berkshire

25 July