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Muslim Babies?!

February 7, 2014

A little while ago, big headlines in the UK announced that “One in ten babies in England is a Muslim” (The Mail Online 6/2/14) and that “The percentage of Muslims among the under-fives is almost twice as high as in the general population” (The Telegraph 6/2/14). This triggered an intense (?) debate on Twitter about whether babies could be Muslim or Christian, and whether it wasn’t wrong to automatically count babies as adherents of their parents’ religion (nobody will be surprised to learn that Richard Dawkins was one prolific contributor). Some reported that when the hospital asked for the baby’s religion, they quipped “Don’t know, he hasn’t told us” or some similar clever statement.

The interesting thing here is not that the Muslim population is growing; it’s that in a way, I agree with those objecting to this automatic religious labelling. Obviously, the hospital question doesn’t express a philosophical position; all they want to know is whether to call a rabbi or an imam if things go pear-shaped, and that surely is up to the parents. And if you understand “religion” as a cultural issue – as most people probably do – the headlines make sense. And still…

Still, the issue remains: a baby cannot express any conscious allegiance to either Jesus, Muhammad or the Bhagavad-Gita. And in my book (the NT), “Christians” are people who “have decided to follow Jesus” (to quote an old song); by the same reckoning, “Muslims” should be people who have chosen to believe the Qur’an. If we put the emphasis on the personal choice and decision, the atheists are right: no baby is Christian or Muslim or atheist.

Unfortunately it’s not that easy. Nobody is born in a vacuum; every baby imbibes their parents’ values and worldview from day one. A baby raised by atheists will start off from an atheist point of view; a baby born to Christians will learn about God and what Jesus has done for us. Little children have no choice; they will be raised by parents with a specific religion/philosophy. The question is, what happens when they grow up?

You can be born into a religion; you choose to become a follower. You inherit your culture; you choose your faith. “I have decided to follow Jesus”; only those who have consciously affirmed their commitment to Jesus can really be called “Christians”. Our job is simply to make sure we give as many people as possible the chance to make that decision.

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From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

2 Comments
  1. This is a perfect sermon for this blog post:

    [audio src="http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/i-believe-that-i-cannot-believe.mp3" /]

    Give it at least 7 min.

    You may see things a little differently…then again…you may not (afterward).

    Thanks.

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