Updated yet again 2 June
The story is reported in two national newspapers:
And in one local newspaper:
Manchester Evening News Vicar refuses to baptise child because his parents are not married
The Church of England website page Christening FAQs says
…Can anyone have a Christening service?
Yes, so long as they have not been Baptized already. The Church of England welcomes all babies, children and families for Christenings – whatever shape that family takes. You do not have to be married to ask for a Christening for your child. You do not have to have been a regular churchgoer – as parents, you do not even have to have been Christened yourselves. Everyone is welcome at their local church. Just ask your local vicar if this is something you are considering for your baby.
However, according to the Mail report, the diocese defended the vicar, thus:
A spokesman for the Church of England Diocese of Chester said: ‘Revd Tim Hayes would very much like to encourage the couple to take the Christian initiation of baptism very seriously.
‘At no point has he refused to baptise the child. The Church of England believes that the best place for a child grow is within marriage.
‘The vicar would be happy to help the couple be married and then to baptise their child at no financial cost to them – so that the best outcome can be achieved.
‘We hope the family will receive this offer warmly, but if they would rather not be married, then St John’s church, Dukinfield, will still be happy to offer them a service of thanksgiving.’
The text of Canon B 22 is as follows (thanks Mark B)
B 22 Of the baptism of infants
1. Due notice, normally of at least a week, shall be given before a child is brought to the church to be baptized.
2. If the minister shall refuse or unduly delay to baptize any such infant, the parents or guardians may apply to the bishop of the diocese, who shall, after consultation with the minister, give such directions as he thinks fit.
3. The minister shall instruct the parents or guardians of an infant to be admitted to Holy Baptism that the same responsibilities rest on them as are in the service of Holy Baptism required of the godparents.
4. No minister shall refuse or, save for the purpose of preparing or instructing the parents or guardians or godparents, delay to baptize any infant within his cure that is brought to the church to be baptized, provided that due notice has been given and the provisions relating to godparents in these Canons are observed.
Christian Today has an article by Mark Woods who is a Baptist, entitled Infant baptism: Is it ever ok for the Church to turn parents away?
Mark incorrectly identifies the relevant diocese, which is, as noted above, Chester.
Update 2 June
Philip Jones has written a detailed legal analysis: Baptism and Godly Living.