Friday, May 29, 2015

Infant baptism: Is it ever ok for the Church to turn parents away?

It's a story that regularly makes the papers, particularly on a slow news day: someone is outraged after the local vicar refuses to baptise their child because the parents are unmarried/divorced/gay/don't go to church.

This week's victim is Rev Tim Hayes of Dukinfield, Manchester. He is said to have refused to baptise the child of unmarried parents. He says he just wanted them to understand what baptism was all about: it's not just a naming ceremony. Furthermore, marriage is important too, and if the couple can't afford the cost of a wedding he'll do it for free.

What he almost certainly didn't say was that he wouldn't baptise the child, and he has been backed up in that by the Diocese of Manchester. Church of England law (Canon B 22.4, if you are interested) says: "No minister shall refuse or, save for the purpose of preparing or instructing the parents or guardians or godparents, delay to baptise any infant within his cure that is brought to the church to be baptised, provided that due notice has been given and the provisions relating to godparents in these Canons are observed." Keep reading

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