Is it right for a person to be born into the Church automatically?
In compliance with the traditions of various religions around the world, for example the tradition of the Catholic Church, parents from the believing families baptise their children during the first few months of their lifetime. Thus, the baptisms are received in such circumstances that the baptised are not conscious that they are joining the Church – baptism is almost automatic. It is a problematic matter whether baptisms should be received at such a young age. There are three main aspects that should be of concern when discussing this matter: the rights included in the sources of the religious knowledge, the economic interests of the Church and the criterion of freedom of choice of one's religious beliefs. These three issues suggest that the automatised baptisms may be a means of retaining the Church's influence.
Firstly, the teachings of the Bible oblige Christians to baptise their infants neither in the Old nor the New Testament. Moreover, it is written in the New Testament that Jesus Christ himself received baptism at the age of about 30. Consequently, the Catholic Church doesn't officially demand children to receive baptism in their infancy. On the other hand, early baptism is implemented as a traditional way of joining the Church. The reasoning behind this practice is that if a person not belonging to the Church dies, they won't have any chance of salvation. Thus, it is very uncommon in Catholic societies to let children reach adulthood and decide for themselves then whether they want to be baptised or not. Yet, this reasoning seems to have no basis nowadays, at least in the developed countries, as the improvement of health care - in the last one hundred years has significantly diminished the death rate among those younger than 18 years of age. Consequently, the tradition of baptising children at the very beginning of their lives is no longer based on any logical premises stemming from the religious sources.
Second comes the issue of the Church's economic well-being. The point is often raised that the longer one remains a member of the Catholic Church, the more income one generates, moreover there are many religious events, especially sacraments of initiation such as baptisms, that are a great source of revenue for the Church. The revenue is multiplied thanks to the fact that the sacraments are conducted in a row, with regular intervals. Were these received by a grown-up, able to comprehend the idea of baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation at one time, they would generate a much smaller income.
Finally, baptising infants and conjoining them with the religious community enables the Church to immerse them as “apprentices” in its system of values. On the one hand, this may help raise more conscious Christians, who are better prepared to lead a responsible and fruitful religious life in their adulthood. On the other hand, it may also make them more used to the rules imposed on them, and more acquisitive with respect to the religious system's requirements as well as the Church's demands. Furthermore, baptising infants may be a way of preventing potential believers from converting to any other religion, which may be interpreted as a way of saving them from losing the possibility of salvation. On the other hand, it may be also interpreted as limiting one's personal freedom.
To sum up, it seems that the automatic baptism is the best possible way of joining the Catholic Church – as well as any other church. Although proving the concern of the Church about its believers, it may to some extent not comply with the right to free choice and may suggest that the Church very much cares about its economic well-being.