Deciding Not To Baptize

Breaking with tradition with no religion, thank you

By Guadalupe Aguilar
Published on LatinoLA: May 25, 2002

Deciding Not To Baptize

I was once a "good" Catholic girl. I went through all of the rituals: First Holy Communion, Confirmation, retreats...you name it, I participated. I was very "proper." I thought I would make a good nun someday.

But all those thoughts and my fierce loyalty and unquestionable faith would soon vanish. And it wasn't because of my first Chicano Studies class. It was because of a response a priest gave me when I asked him to explain the "Trinity" to me. His answer to me was that if I had questions abut the "Trinity" then I did not have enough faith to believe in the miracle of the "Trinity".

I was fifteen years old then and although I continued to go to church, my profound faith and fierce loyalty had been shattered. And once I started college, I stopped going altogether. The church did not allow room for questions. If there were any, then this meant not having "faith". And I had many questions. I still believed in God, just not the church's version of God's word.

Decisions are never easy to come by, especially when they are bound to cause controversy. When my husband and I decided to have children, we decided we would not baptize them. My husband had also been baptized as a child. This was very difficult to announce to my mother (his family was not practicing the religion either). My mother, a die-hard-retreat-going-goes-to-church-the-first-Friday-of-every-month-and-never-
misses-mass-on-Sundays person, was not going to understand, let alone accept our decision. I remember her telling me "Just baptize them, you don't have to do any of the other things." How could I do this to them?

I was breaking with "tradition," not so much the "faith" but rather with "tradition." And that was it, which was precisely why we decided not to baptize our sons. We knew that if we did, we would not take them to church on Sundays or have them do any of the other rituals the religion required. This would only lend to the hypocrisy of the hundreds of people who baptize their children yet never set foot in the door of the church.

So, why am I talking about this? Does anyone ever talk about this? No, most of my relatives and many of my friends rush to the waters of baptism, choosing godparents and having a big party afterwards. Meanwhile the child has been christened into a religion he/she knows nothing about.

When we mention we did not baptize our sons, we get the how-could-you-do-this-are-you-heathens-look. Why doesn't anyone ask "why did you baptize your child?" Maybe this is the question that should be asked.

In not baptizing our sons, we have given them the freedom to choose a faith if they so choose, liberating them from the confines of a specific religion. How could we baptize our sons into a faith without giving them the opportunity to understand what religion is? And for us, God and religion are two different ideals. God did not create religions, mankind did.

And so my husband and I chose to break with tradition, to not buckle under pressure, especially from my mother. Why does everyone rush to baptize his or her children? Is it more out of tradition than faith? God forbid that you even think about it. It is assumed, it is imposed upon us, no questions asked.

We broke with tradition, we stood our ground and there are no regrets. Our conscience is clear. We chose not to impose a religion onto our sons. Let it be their choice. After all, we are simply their guides into this world.

And as such, we will guide them with a faith in God, no religion thank you.

About Guadalupe Aguilar:
Guadalupe has been writing about her life experiences since she was young girl, and now as a mother of two, writing is her outlet, her therapy.

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