Updated: Thursday, 23rd November 2017 @ 12:04pm

Moving heaven and earth! Would Manchester parents baptise kids to get them to pearly gates of top schools?

Moving heaven and earth! Would Manchester parents baptise kids to get them to pearly gates of top schools?

| By Max Atwood

As we all know, parents will move heaven and earth to ensure their children enjoy the best life possible. But to what extent can this be considered morally acceptable?

The issue reared its head recently when a young Manchester couple, Heather Lawrence and her partner Jonathan, tried to arrange a baptism service for their nine-month-old son Roman.

The Reverend Tim Hayes of St John’s Church, Dukinfield declined to fulfill the couple’s request on the grounds that they were not married.

However, it has been suggested that the couple had an ulterior motive: Heather had stated that she was concerned that her child would not be accepted into the high-achieving local Catholic school without a baptism.

Rev. Tim Hayes said of the matter: "Baptism is a big decision – it’s about nailing your colours to the mast and saying, ‘I want to be a follower of Jesus.’

"Parents have to make these decisions, and they are pretty big decisions when you look at the promises made."

The question remains as to whether it is morally acceptable to have your child baptised in order to secure them a place at a religious and sometimes better school.

With this in mind, MM hit the streets to gauge Manchester’s opinion of baptism for a better education.

NO TICKET: Annie Barrington believes the vicar acted justly

Annie Barrington, 49, a housewife from Eccles said: "Well if I'm perfectly honest the vicar was perfectly correct to refuse the baptism. It should by no means be a ticket into a school.

"I myself have a child reaching the age where he will be joining school for the first time, and I will not be considering baptising my child just to get him into a certain school.

This view was not shared universally however, as final year Manchester University student, Nicholas Hackett, 22, of Fallowfield made clear.


KIDS COME FIRST: Nicholas Hackett believes parents would do anything for their child

"Your child always comes first. As a parent if you can do something that benefits your child’s life, then you always will,” he said.

"I wouldn't send my child to a Catholic, or any religious school. It's just a waste of time.

“I wouldn't want them learning about religion over proper academic education anyway. It should never take precedence."


RELIGIOUS EDUCATION: Clara Roy views baptism as a 'serious commitment'

Clara Roy, 19, a student at MMU disagreed. She said: "I was raised in a strict Catholic household and I've always seen baptism as a serious commitment to promise to bring up your children to respect God.

"Even if the parents aren't married I would encourage them to learn more about the Christian faith before baptising their child and making such an important decision before God that they might not understand."

Another student, Jonathan Parrott, 24, living in Withington, agreed that a greater understanding of religion was necessary when making such a decision. He said: "It's ridiculous to baptise your child if you obviously don't care about religion.

"You should baptise your child only if you're actually considering going to church and actively taking part in the religion."


HIGHER EDUCATION: Jonathan Parrott warned against religious passivity after baptism

Matthew Mayes, 26, an IT Consultant from Fallowfield said: "It's quite simple: the vicar should be able to choose to refuse baptism if it's the policy of the church in the same way that these schools are requesting a child to be baptised to be accepted."

Dan Imiolek, 29, a letting agent living in Withington strongly disagreed, criticising the Reverend’s refusal to perform the baptism: "That kind of moral high-ground from the church I can't stand.

"That vicar has got no leg to stand on in refusing to baptise the child. It's a vicar's job to spread the word of God, not actually play God."

Others took a more liberal approach.

Ian Lockerbie a 25-year-old artist from Rusholme said: “You’ve just got to do what’s best for your child. I’d definitely baptise my child for a better education.

“Just because a child’s baptised doesn’t mean they are strictly Christian. It’s simply a means to an end.”

Ella Shultz, 30, a photographer living in Fallowfield said: “Yeah, it’s a bit immoral, but if it’s the difference between a better education and future then why not?”

So there you have it: Manchester remains divided on the issue of baptism for school places.

Even in today’s secular modern Britain, it seems there is still a definite religious and moral compass guiding many of us – even when it’s our children’s future on the line.

Main image courtesy of River City Church, with thanks.