Atheist Godfather, Holy Home Runs, Black Jesus

August 8, 2018


Why do baseball players point to the sky when they hit a home run, but not when they whiff?

Peter H.

Because God would strike players dead if they publicly blamed him for what is obviously their own mistake. Sure, HE’LL take credit for the home runs and triples when the batters’ skills and years of dedication, work, and practice pay off, but don’t put a strikeout on HIM.

Players know all this and elect not to press their luck with Admiral Vindictive up in the sky there…

By the way, if your team is winning, God likes them (and you). If they stink…well, do the math.

It seems like our society is slowly moving away from organized religion. Different societies throughout history have abandoned one religion, though usually for a newer one.  How long does it usually take for a society to abandon one religion?


It might seem ironic that the U.S., which was founded as a secular nation, is generally more religious than other countries which have state religions. A friend of mine from the UK once told me that the best way to kill a church is to force everyone to go to it. We Americans have always had fierce competition between sects, so the fittest tended to survive. (That’s right, evolution explains social phenomena too.) Europe and Japan have been pretty secular for a while now, so maybe religion will stay gone – though never completely — in some parts.

In places like South Africa or the Caribbean, where one religion (Christianity) has made major inroads into local belief systems, the incoming religion often makes accommodations to existing creeds. But the black Jesus on the church wall in Jamaica won’t see the light of day in Salt Lake City.

Marketing. Some got it. Some ain’t.

I am an atheist and have been asked to be a Godparent to a relative’s newborn. The parents are Catholic and will baptize their new daughter. This person is like a brother to me even though we don’t share religious beliefs. I’m not sure what to do.

O. Bleuze

I was in a very similar situation years ago and said yes to being Godfather for 3 reasons:

  1. I wanted to do a nice gesture for my cousin, whom I am close to.
  2. I was curious to see if an atheist like me would slip through the Catholic Church’s godparent ritual.
  3. I am an admirer of Marlon Brando’s work and hoped this experience would make me a better actor.

In the Catholic Church’s baptism ceremony, there are 6 things you have to respond to as a prospective godparent. I didn’t know what those things were before the ceremony, so I just winged it. Fortunately, there were several other babies getting dunked that day, and I avoided having to lie or compromise my (lack of) beliefs too egregiously.

Here is an approximation of what they say (a lot of it is a bit redundant), how I responded, and what I was thinking to justify my response.

Celebrant: Do you reject Satan and all his works?

Me: I do. That was easy. Satan is fictional. I reject him, Santa Clause, and leprechauns.

Celebrant: Do you reject sin, so as to live in the freedom of God’s children?

Me: I do. For me sin is dropping a good slice of deep dish pizza onto a dirty floor. Or sitting on a $9 cigar. I’m against lots of those kinds of sins.

Celebrant: Do you reject the glamor of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin?

Me: I do. I mean… I’ll try. I won’t let any bad habits master me, though I reserve the right to dip my foot into Lake Sin every now and then.

Celebrant: Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness?

Me: I do. Yes, goddammit! Wasn’t I just asked this?

Then the priest asked…

Celebrant: Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?

Me: (silence) Actually, no I don’t. I’ve been an atheist since 1970.

Celebrant: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?

Me: (silence) No, not that stuff either, and by the way, father, are you aware that virgin birth and resurrection myths predate Christianity by many centuries and were likely co-opted by early Christian believers?

Celebrant: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

Me: (silence) Does anyone even understand what the hell the Holy Spirit is? I don’t. All that other stuff doesn’t really hold up to scientific scrutiny, so that’s another no in my head. Has anyone noticed my abstentions?

To my surprise, I had made it through the ceremony without confrontation or compromise.

My cousin’s mother asked me at the post baptism lunch, “Why did YOU agree to be a godfather?”

I said, “Someday — and that day may never come — I’ll call upon him to do a service for me…”