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My Goddaughter Is Visiting. Should I Lay Low?


Cousin Ricky
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My goddaughter and her family are in town for two weeks.

 

In 2002 when I was a faithful Christian, I agreed to be my niece’s godfather. Now, in the Catholic religion, godparent is no ceremonial role. You are expected to be a backup for the child’s parents in her religious development.

 

Then in 2005, my faith evaporated.

 

I did come clean with my sister. After all, I did make a promise to her, and I felt morally bound to let her know what was going on with me (not to mention not wanting her to find out through the grapevine). But I do not know if my niece knows, and I don’t know whether my sister would object to me flaunting my atheism around her daughter. Ordinarily, I don’t care what my nieces and nephews know about my beliefs or lack thereof, but in this case, I made a promise.

 

I’ve been told in the past by atheists that the promise is invalid, because it was made under false pretenses, but I don’t agree. Both parties acted in good faith, even if we weren’t aware at the time that the faith had no foundation. (Try to read that last sentence so as to avoid the fallacy of equivocation.) I still consider myself bound to that promise, although I cannot fulfill it as originally conceived.

 

But between the 2012 and 2013 American Atheist conventions, I’ve picked up 4 new T-shirts and a neat tote. Oh, that useful tote! Should I pack those away until she leaves?

 

Two of the T-shirts are not a problem: One is a sciency Dawkins T-shirt that should be completely unobjectionable to educated Catholics (especially one of African descent like my sister), and the other is a The Thinking Atheist T-shirt that would be completely meaningless to an 11-year-old girl not familiar with the New Atheism. That leaves only 2 T-shirts with the big bold American Atheists logo on the front and the quote from Madalyn Murray O’Hair on the back that I need to hide in my bureau.

 

But that tote!

 

I have been fortunate in that I have not experienced intolerance and rejection from my family as I’ve seen in so many extimonies. I don’t want to hide, but I don’t want to blow it either. Of course this can be resolved by asking my sister straight up, but that seems kind of awkward.

 

Thoughts?

 


 

P.S. If my niece ever friends me on Facebook, she will find out. But she is too young for that right now (and if she lies to Facebook about her age to get an account and then tries to friend me, I will call her on it). Her 15-year-old brother does not appear to have an account (yet), so I would seem to have plenty of time.

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If an 11 year old asks who Madalyn O'Hair was, tell her. I wouldn't hide the tote. If their faith is as strong as most church goers claim, they should be able to handle the tote too.

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You made an agreement in good faith. Things changed. The kid needs a new godfather if she doesn't want to go to Catholic Hell. zDuivel7.gif

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You made an agreement in good faith. Things changed. The kid needs a new godfather if she doesn't want to go to Catholic Hell. zDuivel7.gif

 

I'm still waiting for her confirmation so I can give her a Buybull as a confirmation present. Her mom will be so pleased! zDuivel7.gif I'll be waiting for her here at ex-christian.net. zDuivel7.gif zDuivel7.gif

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My goddaughter and her family are in town for two weeks.

 

In 2002 when I was a faithful Christian, I agreed to be my niece’s godfather. Now, in the Catholic religion, godparent is no ceremonial role. You are expected to be a backup for the child’s parents in her religious development.

 

Then in 2005, my faith evaporated.

 

I did come clean with my sister. After all, I did make a promise to her, and I felt morally bound to let her know what was going on with me (not to mention not wanting her to find out through the grapevine). But I do not know if my niece knows, and I don’t know whether my sister would object to me flaunting my atheism around her daughter. Ordinarily, I don’t care what my nieces and nephews know about my beliefs or lack thereof, but in this case, I made a promise.

 

I’ve been told in the past by atheists that the promise is invalid, because it was made under false pretenses, but I don’t agree. Both parties acted in good faith, even if we weren’t aware at the time that the faith had no foundation. (Try to read that last sentence so as to avoid the fallacy of equivocation.) I still consider myself bound to that promise, although I cannot fulfill it as originally conceived.

 

But between the 2012 and 2013 American Atheist conventions, I’ve picked up 4 new T-shirts and a neat tote. Oh, that useful tote! Should I pack those away until she leaves?

 

Two of the T-shirts are not a problem: One is a sciency Dawkins T-shirt that should be completely unobjectionable to educated Catholics (especially one of African decent like my sister), and the other is a The Thinking Atheist T-shirt that would be completely meaningless to an 11-year-old girl not familiar with the New Atheism. That leaves only 2 T-shirts with the big bold American Atheists logo on the front and the quote from Madalyn Murray O’Hair on the back that I need to hide in my bureau.

 

But that tote!

 

I have been fortunate in that I have not experienced intolerance and rejection from my family as I’ve seen in so many extimonies. I don’t want to hide, but I don’t want to blow it either. Of course this can be resolved by asking my sister straight up, but that seems kind of awkward.

 

Thoughts?

 


 

P.S. If my niece ever friends me on Facebook, she will find out. But she is too young for that right now (and if she lies to Facebook about her age to get an account and then tries to friend me, I will call her on it). Her 15-year-old brother does not appear to have an account (yet), so I would seem to have plenty of time.

 

You don't have any shirts to wear but atheism shirts? You need a wardrobe. :-) Regarding the Catholics, are they in charge of you? No, they're not. Fuck the catholic church and its expectations. So your relatives are coming to visit you? Then I guess you really can't be expected to live by their rules at your house. Regarding your promise does it really make any sense to praise Jesus if you are an atheist? No. Not all promises, contracts, covenants can be fullfilled if something drastic happens to one of the involved parties. Nor are you bound anyway. Why do you have to teach your niece religious stuff? I bet she gets plenty of religious instruction at church and by her parents.

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  • 6 months later...

I did not try to hide the tote. I had it with me when I went to my sisters’ condo to watch the basketball finals. I think I was the only one in the room rooting for San Antonio.

A few days later my sisters all showed up at my place unannounced, ready to tour the island with in-laws and children. On a day I happened to be wearing the louder of my American Atheists T-shirts. Did I tell you they brought the kids? I can’t remember whether I had heard of atheists at age 11, but I certainly did before age 14.

No one said anything. biggrin.png

Whatevs, my sister knows about me, and she knows that my apostasy is no secret, so I’ll take her silence as a sign that she’s prepared to handle whatever comes up. Heck, maybe she’s already told the girl. OTOH, it is also clear to her that I respect her prerogative to raise her daughter in the faith.

My goddaughter’s 15-year-old brother now has a Facebook account, and we have friended each other.

After reading so many of the stories here and on the blog, I feel so lucky to have a family that values family over religion.

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Tough spot CRicky but it sounds like it's gonna work it self out,,,,,Go Spurs

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