by Natalie Millhouse
I’m not religious. But I used to be Catholic. Now I happily consider myself to be an atheist. An ex-believer if you will. I have nothing against those who do believe or those of any other faith for that matter.
What I do have a problem with is this…Those who profess to believe in Catholicism just enough to baptise their children.
Or more accurately, to baptise their children with the sole intent of avoiding the reputation of public schools and costs of private schools to get a quality education in the Catholic system.
It happens – and a number of people have suggested my husband and I should baptise our children for this purpose.
Surely the public school system isn’t so bad that parents would indoctrinate their children into a religion they don’t even believe in? Or are private school educations so out of reach of ordinary Australians that people would forego their principles and become a Catholic?
I really hope not.
To clarify, both my husband and I have a Catholic education. We can both profess from experience that the education gained was certainly up to standard. We are both successful in our chosen careers and by all accounts are well-balanced people. But using this education, independently of each other, we both came to the conclusion that Catholicism, and religion in general, just doesn’t seem like the honest truth to us.
I was completely comfortable with my atheist status, until now.
Adding children to the mix has introduced the dreaded parental guilt. I have heard that public schools can be quite hit and miss. Obviously they can’t all be bad, but when schools are in the media if it’s negative, it does tend to be a public school named in the headline. Private schools sound very appealing and seem to have the best reputations, but the costs are generally high…and sadly out of our reach.
Are we dooming our children to a supposed poor public school education because of our principles?
If I’m honest, I’m torn. But as a parent I believe in upholding principles. With an obvious bias, I also believe that teaching children to show conviction and have strength when it comes to upholding their principles is a great life lesson.
A key part to my education experience was both of my parents were practicing Catholics. We all went to church on a Sunday as a family and when we learned about religion at school I knew my parents also knew and believed this. So my parents were working to teach their principles to me. There is honour in that. I can respect that.
Fast forward to my own children, if my husband and I were to go ahead with such a ruse, our children would end up knowing we don’t believe in the religion we baptised them into. We’d be setting ourselves up to fail in the passing down of the importance of principles.
But they’d have a great education right?
Essentially however, wouldn’t we be undermining the one thing my husband and I went to such great lengths to secure – their education.
The fact that my husband and I have friends, colleagues and acquaintances who have baptised their children purely for educational purposes leaves me with that pang of uneasiness residing in the back of my mind.
It upsets and infuriates me.
Those of you who are reading this and are the wonderful result of a public school education I hope in no way that you are offended by any assertions made here.
You are my beacon of reason.