*Can my child have a non-Christian name and be baptized in the Orthodox church?

All About Orthodox Baptisms

Can my child have a non-Christian name and be baptized in the Orthodox church? What is the practical implication of choosing the baptized name when it is different than the child's legal name?

A person must be baptized with a Christian Orthodox name, however this name does not need to be the person's given birth name. A person can have two names - the baptized name and the non-baptized (birth certificate) name. The baptized name needs to be an Orthodox name, meaning there is a Saint of that name. For example, a person named Scott Christopher can not be baptized as Scott. But, can be baptized as Christopher. Thus, this person's middle name can serve as the baptismal name.

On the secular records (the public name, birth certificate name), the name can be anything, but when presented to the Orthodox church for baptism, a baptismal name must be choosen (should the secular name not be Orthodox or should you want a separate baptismal name). You will select the baptismal name when filling out the application for the baptism. The priest will review your choice and let you know if there is any issue with the name. The baptismal name is the name you will use each time Communion is giving and you present yourself to the church stating your baptismal name.

To offer further clarification, the baptismal name is quite different than the legal name of the child. The baptismal name is one named after a Saint - or a Christian name recognized by the church. This name will be used for representation before the Orthodox church - and the child would speak his Orthodox name when getting communion. Many times the baptismal name is the same as the legal name. Other times, the baptismal name is different and is not widely known by others outside the priest and immediate family. A priest generally will refer to a person by their baptismal name as this is the name they have come to know the person.


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