Secular Version of Baptism/Godparent
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20-11-2014, 11:23 AM
Secular Version of Baptism/Godparent
I'm an atheist who was raised Methodist and gave it all up at about age 12. My wife is an agnostic who was raised culturally Jewish in terms of keeping her Dad's ethnic identity present in her upbringing, with heaping helpings of Catholicism thrown in from her Irish mother's side of the family.

Anyhow we have an almost-4-year-old son Benjamin with another baby on the way, due May 2015. We celebrate all kinds of "holidays" throughout the year from Hanukkah to Christmas to the solstices to Thanksgiving and the 4th of July, which is to say any occasion people have seen fit to have a big meal with family for - we do that. But due to my own lack of "faith" and the spiritual hodge podge that exists on my wife's side of the family we never had our son baptized or circumcised at all, never mind through a Bris, and don't plan to have the next kid baptized or (if it's a boy) ritually mutilated either.

BUT... We do feel like our kids are sort of getting the short end of the stick by not having a ritual or celebration of their birth. NOT a ritual celebrating your pledge to indoctrinate your child into a faith system; we're opposed to that all the way. But I've always liked the aspect of Baptism that's more about recognizing the arrival of a new human being and welcoming him or her into the world and a family. I also like the idea of a kid having a "godparent," but without the god... someone to help watch over their moral upbringing, be their advocate in life, etc.

So I guess I'm asking other atheist/agnostic parents, have you done anything that's LIKE a baptism for your kids but without all the God, sin, and salvation stuff? Did you recognize someone, a close friend or relative, as your child's "protector" or secular equivalent of a godparent? How'd you go about it? We'd very much like to have some kind of big party when the next kid is born, and welcome him or her and also recognize our son's "promotion" to big brother; because we feel like our kids deserve recognition and to be celebrated even if we're not religious.

Any ideas?
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20-11-2014, 11:50 AM
RE: Secular Version of Baptism/Godparent
There must be some volcano god or other you could sacrifice them to.
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20-11-2014, 12:03 PM
RE: Secular Version of Baptism/Godparent
(20-11-2014 11:23 AM)Mr. Boston Wrote:  I'm an atheist who was raised Methodist and gave it all up at about age 12. My wife is an agnostic who was raised culturally Jewish in terms of keeping her Dad's ethnic identity present in her upbringing, with heaping helpings of Catholicism thrown in from her Irish mother's side of the family.

Anyhow we have an almost-4-year-old son Benjamin with another baby on the way, due May 2015. We celebrate all kinds of "holidays" throughout the year from Hanukkah to Christmas to the solstices to Thanksgiving and the 4th of July, which is to say any occasion people have seen fit to have a big meal with family for - we do that. But due to my own lack of "faith" and the spiritual hodge podge that exists on my wife's side of the family we never had our son baptized or circumcised at all, never mind through a Bris, and don't plan to have the next kid baptized or (if it's a boy) ritually mutilated either.

BUT... We do feel like our kids are sort of getting the short end of the stick by not having a ritual or celebration of their birth. NOT a ritual celebrating your pledge to indoctrinate your child into a faith system; we're opposed to that all the way. But I've always liked the aspect of Baptism that's more about recognizing the arrival of a new human being and welcoming him or her into the world and a family. I also like the idea of a kid having a "godparent," but without the god... someone to help watch over their moral upbringing, be their advocate in life, etc.

So I guess I'm asking other atheist/agnostic parents, have you done anything that's LIKE a baptism for your kids but without all the God, sin, and salvation stuff? Did you recognize someone, a close friend or relative, as your child's "protector" or secular equivalent of a godparent? How'd you go about it? We'd very much like to have some kind of big party when the next kid is born, and welcome him or her and also recognize our son's "promotion" to big brother; because we feel like our kids deserve recognition and to be celebrated even if we're not religious.

Any ideas?

We kinda adopted people to be "god parents" to our kids. They know they're special in our lives. We routinely refer to them as "uncle or Aunt"

But we never had a formal gathering.

It should be said one of our kids does have a real god-mother, we gave into pressure from our families at the time. We haven't heard from her since our son was around 2-3 years old.

The "aunties" and "uncles" are all still around in our lives.

I would say, pick the people who you think best will be around for your kids. Have them over for dinner, tell them how important they are...if they care they'll take it seriously. Always include them in important life events for your child -- Birthdays, first day of school (even if you just send them a picture), graduations, weddings...all that stuff.


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20-11-2014, 12:27 PM
RE: Secular Version of Baptism/Godparent
I just think it's a shame that because we espouse inquiry, evidence, curiosity, and reason in our family instead of fantasy, fairy tales, and superstition that our kids don't get the recognition other kids get for entering the world and the human race. I just wondered if there was some kind of "event" (ritual seems like the wrong word) that atheist parents are doing with their kids for this kind of celebration or recognition.
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20-11-2014, 04:12 PM
RE: Secular Version of Baptism/Godparent
Hi
I live in Switzerland and non-religious god parents are very common. In French "god" isn't part of the word... This is the case in France and other European (secular) countries.
They are called "parrain" (male) and "marraine" (female).
My daughter at 21 has a great relationship with her "parrrain" (the "marraine" did'nt work out).
As an outspoken atheist, I have three god children (filleul and filleule). One is protestant, one is jewish and one doesn't care (go figure). I have great relationships with them all and see them regularly. None of the parents are family, even if this is sometimes the case.
The idea of having a special relationship with an adult that is not a parent is pretty cool. We can talk without the responsibility of parenting...
Go for it. Say it's Swiss!
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20-11-2014, 04:35 PM
RE: Secular Version of Baptism/Godparent
(20-11-2014 12:27 PM)Mr. Boston Wrote:  I just think it's a shame that because we espouse inquiry, evidence, curiosity, and reason in our family instead of fantasy, fairy tales, and superstition that our kids don't get the recognition other kids get for entering the world and the human race. I just wondered if there was some kind of "event" (ritual seems like the wrong word) that atheist parents are doing with their kids for this kind of celebration or recognition.

You could have a formal gathering centered on your child getting his first library card. Drinking Beverage

Ask a couple to be bound to periodically participate in the remainder of the child's life, to provide a reference point.

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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20-11-2014, 04:47 PM
RE: Secular Version of Baptism/Godparent
(20-11-2014 04:35 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(20-11-2014 12:27 PM)Mr. Boston Wrote:  I just think it's a shame that because we espouse inquiry, evidence, curiosity, and reason in our family instead of fantasy, fairy tales, and superstition that our kids don't get the recognition other kids get for entering the world and the human race. I just wondered if there was some kind of "event" (ritual seems like the wrong word) that atheist parents are doing with their kids for this kind of celebration or recognition.

You could have a formal gathering centered on your child getting his first library card. Drinking Beverage

Ask a couple to be bound to periodically participate in the remainder of the child's life, to provide a reference point.

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20-11-2014, 04:48 PM
RE: Secular Version of Baptism/Godparent
(20-11-2014 04:35 PM)Chas Wrote:  You could have a formal gathering centered on your child getting his first library card. Drinking Beverage

Ask a couple to be bound to periodically participate in the remainder of the child's life, to provide a reference point.

Be sure to keep a journal to catalog that chapter of your child's story.

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