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Don't Baptise Baby Brooklyn!
Apart from being picked up by the CEN and a number of other local papers, Radio interviews were requested by BBC (The Jimmy Young Show) and Radio Leeds

From Radio Leeds

2nd April 2002, at around 11.15am

(The presenter is in bold and John Hartley in light type.
We have edited out the "umms, ahhs, you know's, like I say's" etc.,
and made the article slightly more legible - but no words have been changed.)

David Beckham is back in the headlines this morning, when he revealed that he wasn't sure which faith to dedicate his son into. He revealed that he was unsure whether to have Brooklyn christened and rather than follow convention he preferred to have a look at other faiths before making his decision. His comments prompted a Yorkshire priest to write to him urging him not to have his son Brooklyn baptized just yet. In a moment we'll be speaking to the Rev'd John Hartley about this, but first our reporter John Millward has been out onto the streets of West Yorkshire to find out whether people think it's right to baptize babies even if their parents are not practising Christians.

Well it depends on what you mean by "practise". I don't think you need to go to church to be a Christian, so I suppose that's what you mean by practising - so my answer is yes, I think he should have the baby christened. It doesn't need to be going to church every Sunday to be a Christian.

Not at all. (Why not?) Because it's pointless if you don't believe in it yourself.

Not bothered. If you don't preach it, then what's the point?

Anyone can believe in a god in some ways, and if he finds that this religion is better then why not? Yeah!

I don't know. It's down to the parents themselves. I don't know, it's a difficult question for someone to answer. I don't have children, so I don't know. Ultimately it's their decision, they're going to get criticism probably one way or the other, so it's just up to them.

I think it's up to the parents to make a decision on that, and then the child can make the decision when he grows up.

Well let's now speak to Rev'd John Hartley. Good morning to you.

Good morning.

What prompted you to write to David Beckham about this?

I saw a quote in a newspaper article which said "I definitely want Brooklyn to be christened, but I don't know into what religion yet," and I thought "that's a good quote for a parish magazine article, isn't it?" So I wrote the article, and the article came out in the form of a letter, and I thought - seeing as I'm writing it like this I'd better send him a copy, so that's what I did.

Do you know if he's definitely received it?

I don't, I'm afraid.

Do you expect a reply?

It would be nice to get a reply. Obviously the man is very busy, and he's got other things on his mind just at the moment, but if he likes to reply, that's fine. I did promise him confidentiality if he wanted to reply.

OK. Could it be, though, that there's some confusion? Do you think maybe David Beckham perhaps meant he didn't know which Christian denomination to baptize Brooklyn into?

Yes, that is possible. I did say, in the article, that "you have to be certain enough which church is the one you're going to take Brooklyn to week by week", because, as one of the people in your clip said, what's the point if you're not going to practice it by yourself? Obviously David has to decide what he's going to do for the future of Brooklyn, and if he does want to bring Brooklyn up as a Christian, then he's going to have to bring Brooklyn up as a Christian in one of the churches, and that means he's got to choose one.

What about parents who decide to go ahead and baptize - christen - their child because they feel it will then help them later in life, perhaps, because when it comes to teenagers perhaps confirming: one of the things that sometimes holds teenagers back from confirming when perhaps they'd liketo is maybe that they've still got to go through the baptism process as well, haven't they? You might say that if it's meant to be then they'll be prepared to go through it, but I think perhaps it can be quite traumatic for teenagers, can't it?

Actually, we find it's the other way. A lot of people, seeing adult baptisms, say "Oh, I wish I'd had that now, instead of having it as a baby too young." One of the biggest problems we have in the Church of England is people who come up to us and say "Can't I be baptized?", and the vicar has to turn round and say "I'm awfully sorry, but you already have been, and we believe that baptism is once for all, so you can't be again." We lose people like that to the Pentecostal and other churches who never believed in infant baptism anyway. So it's in the child's best interests to delay a baptism service until such time as a child can make a decision for himself. But that's not really what I was talking about as far as Brooklyn goes - what I was saying in the article was: do come along to church, because there is a lovely christening service which is called the Thanksgiving and Blessing. It's based on what Jesus did when children were brought to him: he took the children in his arms and he laid his hands on them and he blessed them. It's a really nice service, and I recommend you have that one.

OK. It seems fascinating. If you get a reply, we will never know, and rightly so. I admire you for saying that to David, but it would be interesting to know if you do or not, because we're nosey like that. In the mean time thank you for joining us, it's nice speaking to you this morning.

Right. Nice to speak to you.

Bye bye. Rev'd John Hartley there - a very interesting line of thought. 


To see the original Parish Newsletter Article click here:   

To see transcript of Jimmy Young interview click here


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Thanksgivings Christening Q & A


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