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Roger, Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 31770
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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My son was at church camp and was baptized without parental

Customer Question

My son was at church camp and was baptized without parental knowledge or consent. This is especially troubling for me as I have baptized each of my other children. He was in another state and with the youth pastor from the same church where I baptized my other sons. Because the policy of the church and the camp is to baptize with the consent of parents, I had no expectation that this would happen. I learned of it by watching a video on Facebook. I am angry and sleepless over this loss of legacy. Do I have legal recourse?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.

Hi - my name is ***** ***** I'll be glad to assist.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
what is your opinion?
Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.

The general school of though is that since baptism is a personal choice -- not a legal issue -- the church is not required to notify the parents before performing a baptism, and as a result, is not required to have parental permission.

Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.

However, there is another school of thought that claims that a forced baptism is the tort of battery and would be actionable. This is so because children are legally incapable of making decisions as they lack the legal capacity to vote or enter contracts.

Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.

Since this is a religious issue, how things shake out can largely depend on the area you live in and what the religious climate of that area is.

Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.

That said, it would be a difficult claim to prevail on since the child apparently made a voluntary choice to be baptized.....unless the child is very, very young (6 or younger).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Seems like a non-answer. Sorry to have bothered you.
Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.

One other interesting issue is that IF your church has a written policy that says it will not baptize a child without parental consent, and it did just that, you may have a claim for the church breaching its policies that you have a right to rely on.

Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.

It's not a non-answer --- there's just no definite cookie-cutter answer to the's one of those things that could go either way depending on who's deciding the matter.

Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.

Your best option would be to raise the breach of policy argument as it is much stronger and easier to establish than the alternative argument of whether what occurred is nothing or the tort of battery.