Welcome Page News. Resources. Practice. Theology. About Us.

Welcome Page
Evaluating CW.
Initial Reponse.
COB responds!
Authors' Response.
A Rationale.
Patristic Evidence.
It's more complex.
Even more complex.
Modern Mission.
Don't baptise Brooklyn!
Baptise or What?
Atheistic / Agnostic?
Occasional Offices.


Unmarried Couples & Baptism
Daily Telegraph 26 April 2000

Marry or I can't baptise your child, says rector
By Sally Pook

A RECTOR has warned unmarried couples that he may refuse to baptise their children because they are "living in sin".

The Rev Donald Allister has issued a leaflet to parishioners explaining that if unmarried parents wished to have their son or daughter baptised, he will suggest that they marry first. Some parents are now boycotting services at St Mary's Parish Church in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, annoyed that they are being singled out while baptisms are being permitted for the children of single parents.

The church leaflet says: "When a single parent is bringing a child up alone we are willing to baptise. When the parents are living together as man and wife but unmarried we cannot baptise the baby (the Bible says such a relationship is sinful and baptism involves turning away from sin). When the parents are together but unmarried we will suggest a wedding then the baptism."

Yesterday, one parishioner, who asked not be named, vowed to boycott church services. He said: "This will make unmarried couples feel like lepers. Marriage is not an easy step to take and some just don't want to do it anymore. How the Church can shun people just because they are not officially man and wife is ridiculous. They should be pleased that children are being introduced to the Church at a young age."

Mr Allister was not available to comment yesterday, but in an interview with a local newspaper pointed out that an alternative "thanksgiving after birth" ceremony was available for unmarried couples. He said his church had, on at least one occasion, "broken the rules" to baptise the baby of a mother who wanted to get married but whose boyfriend refused.

He said: "The promises they have to make in the service are that they are basically living in accordance with Christian beliefs and practices Living together as a married couple without being married doesn't enable them to make those promises.

"If people choose to have children when they are not married they are putting themselves outside the tradition of Christian patterns of behaviour. I am not in the condemning business at all but the Church and Christianity has not changed its view that children should be born and brought up in marriage and not outside it."

On allowing single parents to have their babies baptised, Mr Allister said many were not single parents by choice and they could not be penalised. He said: "You can't penalise a mother because the father has run off. If someone is trying to bring up a baby on their own, we will encourage them. All we are doing is trying to stick to Church of England and Bible teachings."

David Marshall, a spokesman for the Church of England Chester diocese, said every child living within a Church of England parish had the basic right to be baptised but parochial church councils could also decide their own policies.

Parents had a right to present their child for baptism, but what happened after that was a matter for the priest. Dr William Beaver, spokesman for the Church of England, said it was "unusual" for a priest to refuse to baptise a child. He said: "The vicar has the final say, but the Church finds it much better to be welcoming and inclusive rather than exclusive."

To view related subjects, click on the boxes below

Thanksgiving Christening Q & A Theology Cohabitation
Site Map Search