Mary Macalisse, former President of the Irish Republic (who has recently been made a canon of Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, Dublin) is reportedly of the opinion that infant baptism is an assault on the human rights of the child. Children, she says, should not be ‘forcibly recruited’, but left to make their own decisions about religious affiliation in due course.
A familiar story came immediately to mind..
The 16th century Scottish historian Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, in his Historie and Chronicles of Scotland, compiled almost 100 years later tells of Jame IV of Scotland. He explains:
The king also caused [to] take one deaf woman, and put her in Inchkeith, and give her two bairns with her, and furnish her in all necessary things pertaining to their nourishment, desiring hereby to know what languages they had when they came to the age of perfect speech. Some say they could speak Hebrew, but for my part I know not but from [other people’s] reports.
Did the children really learn to speak fluent Hebrew? You can make your own mind up on that one—but as Sir Walter Scott later commented, “It is more likely they would scream like their dumb nurse, or bleat like the goats and sheep on the island.”
Like a child denied nurture in language, a child deprived of the spiritual and moral tutelage of religion would have no criteria on which to make the free decision which is so important to Ms Macalesse. He or she, adrift in a world of amorphous relativities, would be incapable of rational choice.
It is a parental right and duty to share with children all that is right and good. Tragically for parents, it is the right of offspring to renounce that proffered heritage.