Godparent, without the God part

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The author with his niece in 2014, a few days after she was born.

The author with his niece in 2014, a few days after she was born.

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When my sister was pregnant with her third child, I received an ultrasound image in the mail. Attached to it was a handwritten note: "Would you be my godfather… er… sponsor… ah… special person? You know what I mean."

  • Frank

    Questionable parenting to say the least.

  • Garson Abuita

    My understanding was that the prospective godparent had to be a Christian or to pledge that he would make sure to properly supervise the child’s religious upbringing. I;m sure it’s different for different denominations, much less within American Lutheranism — although my additional understanding was that the closer you get to Lake Wobegon the more conservative it is.
    As to Muslims possibly serving as godparents to Jewish children — not to say impossible but there’s no direct equivalent of “godparent” in Judaism serving to ensure religious upbringing. Notably, however, the Yiddish word kvater/kvaterin, for the person who brings the boy into the room where the circumcision is to take place, is cognate with the German gewatter — godfather. Today many of these “helper” roles at the bris or naming ceremony for girls are given to people who might otherwise serve as godparents.

  • Bob Caron

    Congratulations man! I’m a three-time Godfather and atheist. My God-Kids are now 22, 28, and 34. Back then, no one ever thought to question if I was a Catholic as my parents raised me. All three are the first born in their families and I must say how proud and honored I am that they chose me. The only parent that may have known I was atheist is my sister but she was baptizing her daughter mainly for our parents benefit. Last year, another friend asked me to be his son’s confirmation sponsor. I jumped at the chance but when I got the registration form, they asked what church I go to and the name and telephone number of my pastor. I may be atheist but I wasn’t going to lie on that form and I had to back out. My friend was disappointed too. I hope your sister’s church doesn’t make you prove you are one of them. Good luck!

  • Ian

    In the secular community, I’ve heard those special persons referred to as “good-parents”.

  • Simon Peter Says

    When discussing “conservative” or “liberal” denominations, it usually doesn’t have to do with politics as much as it has to do with being faithful to God’s word. The ELCA (the more ‘liberal’ Lutheran sect) decided to elevate their thoughts above God’s thoughts and fell into the trap of universalism.

    While i encourage all to seek, science has been increasingly making the case for God’s existence. I enjoy studying other religions and finding common ground, but as someone who was raised agnostic/leaning athiest, I really wish I had the religious education growing up. While your sister may be well-intentioned, if she is an ELCA Lutheran she may have lost sight of the fact that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” It is possible to study and be open-minded towards other religions while still holding truthful to one’s own. Being loving and accepting of other people doesn’t mean one needs to fall into the trap of universalism.

  • Velma Hampson

    Depends a lot on the denomination of the Lutheran church I suspect. ELCA is pretty liberal.