Little info: my entire family is Catholic.

Anyway, I have two uncles that have two baby girls close to the same age. One of them is having my baby cousin baptized in about two weeks. I'm not sure how I feel about going to a church again. Should I go, you guys?

I have another problem. My other uncle asked me if I wanted to be my baby cousin's godmother. I don't know what to do. I don't want to because I'm an Atheist! I also don't want to sound mean.

I don't know what to do about both of these situations. I'm 20 years old by the way.


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I can see this being a problem for Kari, 10 years of brainwashing will be difficult to overcome.

But not always. There is probably more hope for people who tolerate and accept each other, rather than enforce a favorite dogma.

@Das Pope & Kari;

An existing neural pathway will always be easier to reinforce then to build another neural pathway around the existing one.

In any case raising another person's child after a difficult event in a that child's life is always a daunting task.

As for attending the service, go ahead. Bow your head during prayers and mumble during the amens. They have their beliefs but being part of a family is an important thing and unless the family is overly oppressive, the #1 virtue of families is getting along. 

As for the godmother thing, I know you probably wouldn't feel great about seeing that the child is raised in the religion of the child's parents, but that isn't the real question, which is are you prepared to see that the child is clothed and fed and sheltered and educated. You can always drop them off at church and pick them up afterward. They will eventually wonder why you don't go to church with them and you can just tell them you don't accept that belief system but their parents did. Teach them critical thinking and lead by example.

Chances are these duties won't fall into your hands anyway. I wouldn't lose a lot of sleep over it. 

You can be the girl's god mother, and should anything happen to her parents, you can raise her to understand what religion is.

She should be faithful to the parents' wishes or let someone else take the job.

Not so sure about that, old sport. If the parents decide later on they wish their child to be super into clubbing baby seals... there's a hierarchy of ideology, you know? And I reckon that comes with a responsibility.
I had no idea what my sister could have been thinking when she asked me to be the godfather of my nephew, but I'm thinking they ask us based on (their perception of) the quality of our character more than anything. I do feel a real duty to my nephew's development--I'm constantly reminding my sister to keep an open mind and be fair when talking about certain views with him. As to religion specifically, I basically told her she should teach him about all gods or no gods. But she clings to tradition for tradition's sake. I'm not sure if this will give you an idea of what it's going to be like (depends on how close you are to them), but it takes a village right?

Religion for the most part is an "in group" social construct.  Sure it's batty and sure it's responsible for justifying horrible stuff, but mostly it's benign nonsense.    It might be boring, but go if you think it would mean something to the family. 

As a former clergy person, I can assure you that the Catholic church expects a godparent to raise their godchild in the faith of the church. However, since your uncle is aware that you are an atheist, he clearly does not expect that from you. In the middle ages, a godparent literally stepped in to raise an orphaned godchild. As we are a secular society (THANK GOD!!;) there is no legal obligation attached to this honor, and parents tend to choose people who are important to them regardless of their religious affiliation (or lack thereof) Your uncle clearly is asking you to do this as a way affirming his love for you or your parents or however the dynamics work in your family. If this discussion was in the context of small children and Santa Claus you probably wouldn't give it a second thought. My father was an atheist (no pussyfoot - he referred to Christians as "Goddamn christers) but I was still baptized as an infant and had godparents. His best friend was killed in WWII and this was his way of honoring his friend's mother.

It depends on the situation.  I agreed to be a godfather to my niece even though everyone involved knew I was an atheist--even the priest.  The only thing I remember that I did not like was having to make the sign of the cross over her during the ceremony.  I suspect that if the priest hadn't known I was an atheist, I might have been required to do more.

I think you go to a baptism for the same reason you go to a wedding.  To support your family or friends, and to help them celebrate their joy.  As a Catholic, I have been happy to participate in every variety of religious and non-religious wedding, baptisms and bar mitzvahs and coming of age ceremonies, etc. 

As for being a godparent, I think you defer politely to the expectations for the religion in question.  Since you tagged this as "Catholic", I can tell you that the expectation would be that you are agreeing to help the parents raise the child as a Catholic Christian, by word and example.  If you feel you can do that honestly, then it's OK; if you can't, then I think you tell them gently that you are an atheist and aren't comfortable in that role, but you'd be glad to participate in some other way.


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