Refusal to Baptize



I’m a few weeks into the RCIA program, but have found myself in a state of limbo.

I was baptized once, when I was 14, as part of a large ceremony in a Baptist church. I didn’t know what it meant, nor did I really care. The church made a big deal about it, wanting to baptize as many people as possible, so I was one of probably 50 or so people in line that day. It meant nothing to me, and since being baptized, I’ve lived a life anything but Christ-like, or worthy of being seen as a child of God.

I’ve expressed my desire to be baptized by the Catholic Church, however, the RCIA director will not permit it. He says you can only be baptized once, and that’s it. He asked me to provide the documentation (certificate, etc) showing that I was baptized, but unfortunately, the Baptist church as no record of it ever having happened. With this in mind, he still will not allow me to be baptized, rather, wanting me to fill out a form, signed by people who witnessed the baptism.

This, to me, is unacceptable. I do not feel I have been properly baptized, nor have I ever really cared, until this very moment. I do not believe it would be invalid for me to be baptized, in light of having previously gone through a ceremony. I find it very hurtful that the Church would want to segregate me from others who have not been baptized. I feel as though if Jesus were here, He would not deny me my baptism.

I’m so frustrated. :mad:


what is acceptable to Catholics is canon law on the sacraments, and part of your process in RCIA is coming into first understanding–and for that you should ask the RCIA director for a fuller explanation of her very correct procedure–and then agreement, followed by humble obedient submission to the authority of Christ extended through the Church He founded. This is by far the hardest part of RCIA, it is easy to learn it is hard to be taught.

St. Paul says there is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. That is in the bible. If your baptism was properly administered, and most Baptist pastor do the rite right, with water and the Trinitarian formula, you are baptized, you are a member of the Body of Christ and a child of God, original sin and any actual sin you had committed before that time have been remitted and you were returned to the state of sanctifying grace, that is full and proper right relationship with God. Your soul now carries the indelible mark of Baptism and you have the initial inpouring of the Holy Spirit. This cannot be repeated.

What can happen, if the facts of your baptism cannot be ascertained and attested by reliable witnesses, is that you will receive a private, conditional baptism, the same as the usual rite with the addition of the words “IF you are not already baptized, I baptize you . . . etc.”

Then you will in due course when you are prepared and worthily disposed make your profession of faith, be confirmed in the name of the bishop and the universal Church and receive the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and receive first Holy Communion.

Recall that most Catholics and many Protestants were baptized as infants and hence also have no recollection of their baptism, or had not a personal assent to the faith, they were baptized in the faith of their parents and godparents. So that by itself is no barrier to having received the grace and fullness of the effects of Baptism.
Welcome Home!


The priest at the church where my husband and I are attending RCIA told him that if he cannot produce a baptismal certificate than the baptism can’t be deemed valid and he will have to do it again in he Catholic church. He knows he was baptised in either a Presbyterian or Methodist church, but his mom can’t remember the name of it. I’m surprised the RCIA leader is not applying this same rule in your case since you have no certificate to prove the validity of the baptism.


Please take a minute and realize these rules attempt to cover as wide a number of cases as possible, but like every rule, there is often the unusual or unique case to deal with and those must be dealt with by the people at that location. People do their best, but aren’t perfect. The goal is to recognize every valid Baptism and at the same time discern which, if any, are not valid so it can be done properly, i.e.- the first time.

Some denominations always practice Baptism using the formula acceptable to the Catholic Church, so if you were Baptized in those faiths, it’s done. Others only do it in an acceptable way sometimes, and in those cases more investigation, such as witness testimony, must be taken. Each diocese has their own guidance and procedures for how this is to be done.


Many Protestant communities don’t have the same kind of record keeping regarding baptism that the Catholic Church has. People coming into RCIA often don’t have certificates, but they can produce some other evidence of their baptism including statements from witnesses.

In your husband’s case a conditional baptism might be in order. As Puzzleannie mentioned above, it’s done privately and includes the phrase “IF you are not already baptized…” I would encourage you to talk with the RCIA director about this and if necessary, talk with the pastor. We don’t rebaptize people who are already validly baptized.


You need to understand the Catholic faith that you are joining better, as far as baptism. According to the Church, you are already baptized! You are a baptized person, therefore you only need confirmation into the Church in order to receive communion.

The Catholic Church believes in “One Baptism”. If you are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, you have been baptized.

You need to trust the Church!


Hi Middleman,

I understand and respect the Church thinking on this, however, I personally would prefer to have something more formal. As of now, I cannot recall the exact year/month/day I was baptized, and have no documentation or anything to prove it ever happened. It’s simply personal knowledge. I feel I would benefit from being baptized again, so I can recall exactly when it happened, and as part of going through the RCIA process, have it be just one of many building blocks to a better and stronger faith in Christ Jesus.


this is not precisely what will happen, it will be a conditional baptism, not a re-baptism, which is forbidden by canon law. Please ask your pastor for a fuller explanation that relates to your husbands personal situation.


your feelings are understandable, but not relevant to the effects of the sacrament, which depend on the action of Jesus Christ, not on the feelings of the recipient. Please go with the process as the Church has designed it, and as you learn more about the sacraments, grace and how Christ works in them, I am sure you will come to accept your own baptismal status.


You will have something formal at your confirmation ceremony. You’ll be anointed and will confirm your baptismal vows.

You sound, from your post, as if you are still a Baptist in your mindset. It’s the Baptists who insist of re-baptizing converts. You might want to think about that.


I never was a Baptist. I’ve never been anything. I have, however, attended 5-6 Protestant churches over the years. I’ve never attended them for very long.


You said in your opening post that you were Baptized in a Baptist Church.

Anyways, the whole point of the ceremony is not to create an emotional moment for you, but to accept and confirm you into the Catholic Church and launch you into a deeper relationship with Christ and his Church.


I was Baptized in a Baptist Church, but that does not make me a Baptist. I’ve always been “non-denominational”, though in recent months, I’ve realized that “non-denominational” is a denomination in itself! :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, come to find out, a document of baptism was located. I’m inquiring with the RCIA director if I can go through with a renewal, but I guess this is a moot point now.

As much as I would have preferred to be re-baptized in the Catholic Church, as opposed to some random Baptist one, I guess that’s not what’s important. Baptism is baptism, regardless of where or when, so long as the how includes in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Thank you all for your responses.




The ONLY reason you would be allowed to be baptized again would be if you were NOT CERTAIN whether or not you had been baptized. You know you were baptized. The lack of a formal certificate is not important. You were there. You remember it. Therefore, you are a CANDIDATE, not a CATECHUMEN, and you should not be baptized.

Your RCIA director is 100% correct, and you are experiencing a very common problem for people who are in RCIA. Without fail, in every RCIA class, there is drama over silly things. This is caused by the Enemy, who would like to see you drop of out RCIA. Stop allowing him to have a foothold and humble yourself in this matter.

The problem is that you don’t yet grasp the meaning of the Catholic sacrament of baptism versus the Baptist or Non-Denom version of baptism. Generally, this isn’t about your feelings. This is about whether or not you have received the sign of regeneration, and whether fruit has been borne in your soul as its result.

I suggest you get a copy of the catechesim and/or a book on Catholic sacraments and study the differences between an “outward profession of faith”, which is what a Baptist will call baptism, and the sacrament of baptism as taught by the Catholic Church.


ask for a conditional baptism and maybe talk to one of the priests. can you say for sure that you were “baptized in the name if the Fqather, the Son and the Holy Spirit”? that is the trinitarian formula and sometimes some protesant churches baptize only “in the name of Jesus”. that would mean that since there os no documentation and it was years ago, they might have to do what is c alled a “conditional baptism”, which is like a baptism that is just in case you weren’t baptized. it is true that you can only be baptized once, but since you can’t say for sure if you were really baptized with the trinitarian formula, a caonditional baptism may be the righht thing to do. also, where the heck did they find room for 50 people? the matter of baptism is pure/ living water. salt water doesn’t count. if you were baptized at a beach, for instance, you weren’t truly baptized.


Your post sounds like a put down from my perspective. Accusing the OP of letting Satan in and not being humble just because he asked this question? That sounds sanctimonious and uncharitable from where I sit.

Also, if you read the latest posts you’ll see that he appreciated the input and has worked out his feeling about this and resolved the situation.


You’ve completely skewed what I was trying to say. I did not say he “let Satan in”. I said it is common to run up against trivial problems that get blown out of proportion in RCIA, and I blame the Enemy for those blow ups.

I did advise him to be humble and to learn about the Catholic teachings on baptism. I don’t know why you think that’s a put down. It is not. It is advice, and it would be advice I would take if I were in the same situation and feeling personally deprived in some way because of a Catholic teaching.

I missed his last post where he resolved the issue. Op, I am glad you resolved the issue.


Would you link me to some documentation? I’ve never heard this before and find it interesting.


That’s how your post struck me and I felt like defending the OP. This wasn’t a trivial problem to the OP, he really wanted a baptism in the Catholic Church and just needed more education.


I was interested in that myself. It seems salt water is full of life and gives life, how could it not be considered living?

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