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Why do churches baptize infants? Why did ancient churches baptize people of all ages?

Why do churches baptize infants? Why did ancient churches baptize people of all ages?

THE QUESTION:

Why do most Christian churches baptize babies?

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

This classic issue unexpectedly popped up as news on June 23 due to an Irish Times interview with Mary McAleese, an attorney and the former president of Ireland. McAleese assailed her Catholic Church for its practice of baptizing infants shortly after birth with parents making vows on their behalf.

That treats children as “infant conscripts who are held to lifelong obligations of obedience,” she protested, and that’s a violation of their human rights. “You can’t impose, really, obligations on people who are only two weeks old” or inform them “at seven or eight or 14 or 19 here is what you contracted; here is what you signed up to,” because they did not give their own consent to be church members.

To her, the church’s age-old baptismal practice “worked for many centuries because people didn’t understand that they had the right to say no, the right to walk away.” But she says modern people “have the right to freedom of conscience” although “the Catholic Church has yet toi fully embrace that thinking.”

Baptist-type churches that arose in the Protestant Reformation, and many of today’s independent evangelical congregations, agree with McAleese and practice “believer’s baptism” based on the personal decision of each individual. The Church of God in Christ, probably the largest African-American denomination, puts its outlook this way: Baptism “is an outward demonstration that one has already had a conversion experience and has accepted Christ as his personal savior.”

Groups that baptize only youths and adult converts, not babies, almost always insist that the rite involve full bodily immersion in water, not mere pouring of water over the head as in normal Catholic practice.


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A Texas-sized battle over an urban school district's transgender-friendly bathroom policy

A Texas-sized battle over an urban school district's transgender-friendly bathroom policy

The bathroom wars rage on.

A battle over the Fort Worth, Texas, school district's newly enacted transgender-friendly bathroom policy — which received no advance public hearing — is front-page news today in both of the Metroplex's major dailies.

You can read the Fort Worth Star-Telegram story here and the Dallas Morning News story here. Rod "Friend of This Blog" Dreher of the American Conservative offers some insightful analysis here.

The lede from the Dallas newspaper:

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick again called for the resignation of the Fort Worth school superintendent on Tuesday, protesting his implementation of a bathroom policy for transgendered students. But he was greeted with boos and several area figures told him to butt out.
Fort Worth became ground zero in Texas’ political fight over transgender rights after Patrick demanded the resignation of Superintendent Kent Scribner, saying he implemented a district policy to support transgender students without properly consulting parents.
Hundreds showed up to get into the district’s regular Tuesday board meeting as the line wrapped around the building and down the block. Some held signs reading “Trans Rights Matter” while others simply had one word: Repeal.
A majority of the 20 speakers who had a chance to address trustees spoke in favor of the transgender policy. Those who opposed it had dozens of supporters in the room, too.

I read both stories in a hurry and am still digesting the intricacies of the Fort Worth debate as well as the news coverage.

Quick impression: Both stories quote sources on both sides and seem to do an adequate job of explaining the arguments involved.

However — and maybe I'm totally wrong — the Star-Telegram report seems less than impartial. Tell me if I'm off-base here.

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Pope trip: Time to play 'spot the political sound bite'

The pope is abroad. This means, of course, that it is time to look at the papal texts — Vatican site here — and play a mainstream media game that can accurately be called “spot the political sound bite.”

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