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Godparents and religious background

(11 Posts)
strawberry Wed 16-Mar-05 15:36:50

We have decided on Godparents for our new baby due soon. We are going to ask my brother-in-law, amongst others, who is in a long-term on-off relationship. We decided not to ask his girlfriend as it didn't seem like a permanent relationship. Now they have got engaged and my question is regarding religion as his fiance is sikh. His girlfriend is a lovely person and very fond of children and would make a great godmother but can you ask someone who is not a Christian to be a godparent at a Christening service? My gut feeling is no, not for the church service, but that we could still invite her to be a 'godparent'. Any thoughts?

Kelly1978 Wed 16-Mar-05 15:40:55

I thought godparents have to be christian for the ceremony, but I might be wrong.

zubb Wed 16-Mar-05 15:41:02

For the catholic church as long as one godparent is catholic they are OK - not sure about CofE though.
I would still be wary of asking your brothers girlfriend if they are not married. We were going to ask my sisters partner, they had bought a house together, been together a long time etc but we decided against it, and a year later they split up, so very glad we did!

crunchie Wed 16-Mar-05 15:59:18

Personally I have a christian godparents and I am jewish. This is becuase I don't have friends who are jewish that I could ask or would wnat to . DD1 has dh's best friend from childhood and a friend of mine who now lives in South Africa. DD2 has other very old friends of DH. None of the Godparents have their partners as a godparent as well, even though they are also good friends. By doing this it means that they seem to have loads of godparents BTW DH is godparent to his frinds child and I am not, so I know this is normal.

TinyGang Wed 16-Mar-05 16:05:10

It is tricky, but I think they do have to be Christian and zubb makes a good point about them possibly splitting up.

I would so love to have asked my two oldest and best friends to be Godmothers to my children, but both have made it clear they're not into all that and neither chose to get married or have their own children christened, so I didn't feel right about it. Having said that, a family fall out means we don't even see dh's brother and wife who are the Godparents to one of our children; so that doesn't seem to have worked out either!

acnebride Wed 16-Mar-05 16:43:13

I think it would depend on the vicar/priest, strawberry. My guess would be that many would be reluctant to have a godparent from another religion because the promises the godparents have to make during the service would be difficult for anyone from another faith to make. But that's my opinion and I'm not a vicar (or much of a Christian TBH) so I'd have a talk with yours.

ionesmum Wed 16-Mar-05 20:47:13

Have you actually asked her? The vows that are made on behalf of your child are specifically that they will be brought up in the ways of the Christian church, which she may or may not be happy with. If she is, then you need to have a chat with the vicar or priest concerned. You may be able to ask for the priest to give the relationship between your baby and your bil's girlfriend a special blessing. If you can't formalise the relationship in church then I can see no reason why you couldn't call her 'godmother' if that is what you all want.

If you are good friends with bils's girlfriend then it shouldn't matter if they split up. Dh's friend is godparent to our dd1 and his girlfriend to dd2. If they split up we still expect they will be fully involved in the lives of both girls.

Tanzie Thu 17-Mar-05 21:36:39

My DDs were baptized C of E. One of their Godmothers is Jewish. I asked the Vicar if that was OK, and he said he'd pretend he hadn't heard it. Godfather and other Godmother are Catholic.

miranda2 Thu 17-Mar-05 21:43:40

The technical position is that godparents have to be baptised (they should really be confirmed but we are allowed to waive that - and almost always do as so few people are confirmed these days!). AFter all, there is no point promising to bring a child up to follow Christ if you aren't at least theoretically prepared to do so yourself.
However, you can have additional 'sponsors' at a baptism who are not Christians and do not make the religious promises, so this would probably be the best bet.
For what its worth though, I think its pretty pointless having family members as godparents anyway - they are likely to support and help the child in any case, and the idea of godparents is to have additional spiritual guidance and help, and to provide a wider extended family network for the child - so choosing people you aren't necessarily that close to but would like to bring closer into your family network makes a lot of sense. Just a thought!

strawberry Sat 19-Mar-05 12:07:55

Thanks everyone.

Miranda - you make some good points. It was easy choosing Godparents for DS but this time we have ended up asking family members and this is probably to keep people happy rather than the right reasons. On reflection, DH and I will reconsider our choices.

I hadn't heard of sponsors before and this is also useful to know.

morningpaper Sat 19-Mar-05 12:51:32

We got around this by having godparents but also 'sponsors' who stood with the godparents but didn't make the vows. We explained to them that we wanted them to have a special relationship with our daughter and be an example to them, but not in a traditional godparent role. This worked well for us and we refer to them as 'godparents' regardless.

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