Throwback Thursday: Godparents or ceremonial sham?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on March 2, 2016 and has been revised.


Today, I was listening to the 11/17/15 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” radio show via the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, in Buffalo, NY with Catholic priest, Rick Poblocki, answering questions about Roman Catholicism. A listener sent in an email to the show saying a friend had asked her to be a godparent of her soon-to-be-baptized infant child.* Catholic godparents are required to be practicing Catholics who act as witnesses at the baptism and promise to help the growing child fulfill her or his future obligations and responsibilities as a member of the church. The listener complained that the mother of the child is not a “faithfully practicing Catholic” and doubts whether she “sincerely intends to raise the child in the faith.” She asked “father” Rick whether she should be a party to such a pretense.

“Father” Rick advised her to agree to be a godparent because she could be the strong Catholic influence that the child would otherwise never have. He then went on to bemoan the fact that “there’s a lot of people getting their kids baptized or confirmed, (but) they can’t find anybody (to be sponsors) that’s practicing the faith anymore.” Catholic sources report that only 24% of Catholics attend mandatory weekly mass and only 24% of Catholics participate in mandatory yearly confession. Generally speaking, Catholics go to church for weddings, funerals, Christmas, and Easter, but beyond that it’s a crapshoot. But who can blame them? Their pope says even atheists will go to Heaven if they are “good” so why bother with all the obligatory liturgical rigmarole?

I was baptized into the Catholic church as an infant, but my godparents never once encouraged me in my religious training. That’s probably the case for 99% of so-called godparents. It’s all just empty ceremonialism and ritual. As a young parochial school student, my baptized classmates and I went through all the formalities – first confession, first communion, and confirmation – but it was all empty, impersonal ceremony, like checking off a religious to-do list. No one had accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone because the genuine Gospel was never presented to us. Rather, we were all jumping over the prescribed, ritualistic religious hurdles as we attempted to earn our way to Heaven. The institutionalized church we were members of presented its religious system as “the way” rather than Jesus Christ as the Way.

The Lord worked on my heart for many years and, through God’s Word, the Holy Spirit led me out of religious ritualism to Jesus Christ. I accepted Him as my Savior by faith alone and was genuinely born-again at the age of 27. It’s not ritual. It’s not ceremony. It’s not liturgy. It’s not sacraments. It’s understanding that we are all sinners deserving eternal punishment and that there is no hope, no plea other than Jesus Christ and then accepting Him as Savior and then following Him as Lord. Unlike the pope, the Bible says no one is “good,” no not one.

“He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” – Mark 7:6-8

*Roman Catholicism teaches baptismal regeneration and that infants are “born-again” when they are baptized.

31 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Godparents or ceremonial sham?

  1. I WAS a “god” parent to 3 of my nieces. When I left the practice of Roman Catholicism I had to inform their parents I could no longer “fulfill” that “roll” and why. In our big family it pretty much just meant that you had an extra Christmas/birthday gift to buy every year. They are still special to me -as are all of my nieces and nephews. They know I’m the” religious aunt” (we can chuckle over that!) but they always want to visit with me ❤️ One is getting married this September and is not getting married in the Roman Catholic Church-her uncle that has a justice of the peace license is marrying her and her husband at a near by pavilion…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Beth. I always felt a “connection” to my godmother (a much older cousin) just because she was my godmother, even though she never once mentioned religion to me or did anything special like send a birthday card. I think I met my godfather once or twice later in life.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I certainly do not agree with the Catholic approach to the Scriptures. Was raised within their worldview, committed my life to Jesus thru their church. Left Catholic church many years ago, am Godfather for my niece and nephew. An oath I do take seriously despite the theological differences. Tom, your reminder of what those differences are I’ve found to be useful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Vincent. I realize there are Roman Catholics who genuinely trust in Jesus Christ by faith alone in spite of the formal doctrines of the RCC. The Holy Spirit will draw them out.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, so this issue was a MASSIVE problem for the Sweigart (pre-Quinn) household. This pomp and shamary (is that a word) caused such division in my family for 5 years. I will spare you the details and say that it took a pandemic to get my brother, SIL, niece and nephew together in May 2020. Praise God I have gotten to see them many times since then.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m sorry this was an issue of contention for your family. This infant baptism ritual and the teaching of baptismal regeneration in general are so blatantly anti-Biblical and anti-Gospel. Glad you could at least reconcile to a degree.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I was baptized in the Catholic church as a child, too. And much like you, my godparents never once taught me anything religion-wise, and when I was orphaned at sixteen they never even called. So… they didn’t take the responsibility even slightly serious.

    And because the Catholic church both confused me and scared me at a young age, I didn’t even become a Christian until reading the Bible… in 2018! The Catholic baptism didn’t mean much to me (I was so young) so now I want to get really baptized once the pandemic settles down 🙂

    Thanks for sharing so honestly!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Will read this post later! Responding to your comment I am doing another day of long range pastoral driving and visitation today so today and yesterday is a lot of cad time and less steps 🥲. Will read this when I’m not driving

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My godfather was one of my uncles and I loved him so much . We had a special connection but it had absolutely nothing to do with the RCC title of godfather . He didn’t even attend church . Maybe only for my baptism and my wedding as he was my best man.😉
    Thanks for this good post Tom.
    Have a blessed weekend and may your new job be everything you wanted and needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Crissy, glad you had a great relationship with your godfather Uncle. I imagine most Catholic children have no relationship with their godparents.
      Thank you and have a blessed weekend too! (I’m on lunch right now).

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Reading your post with the stats of how many Cathoilics aren’t even practicing Catholics, I think Roman Catholics are a large missions field which ECTers downplay the difference with RC with biblical Christianity means many Protestant aren’t sharing the Good News with RC, which is sad….

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Godparents are also big in the Armenian Church. All I can say is this, when I became a Christian I tried to share my faith with my godparents, then in their 60’s. They never taught me church teaching and moreover, rejected the Gospel that I so wanted them to accept.
    Another sad facade of faith.
    Press on brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lisa Beth. Yes, after we trust in Christ it’s “unnerving” to us that family and friends who so easily assent to institutional religion and its rituals want nothing to do with Jesus Christ and the genuine Gospel.


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